In the Massachusetts school system today, some of our children receive the instruction and support they need to develop a strong foundation for literacy — and some don't. Only about half of Massachusetts third-graders today are meeting literacy expectations. This statistic reflects not student effort or ability, but opportunity and support to learn. To achieve equity, every student in our schools must receive the high-quality curriculum and evidence-based instruction they need and deserve.
Starting in 2018, staff in the Department's Office of Literacy and Humanities engaged educators and other stakeholders statewide to develop the Department's Literacy Strategic Plan, which is entitled An Excellent Education in ELA and Literacy for All. This strategic plan responds to the concerns of educators along with ELA/Literacy achievement data. As a result, it identifies two areas of focus for the Department's instructional support for English Language Arts and Literacy: high-quality core instruction and evidence-based early literacy.
To address the need for enhanced early literacy instruction, over the next several years the Department will issue guidance for early literacy programming paired with implementation supports, including resources, professional development, and grants. The guidance on this website serves three purposes:
The development of the Mass Literacy guide spanned 9 months and was informed by a wide range of stakeholders, passionate about early literacy instruction and student learning. A 45-member team of "Literacy Champions" advised DESE on the components, structure, and content of the guide. These Champions included classroom teachers, literacy coaches, reading specialists, speech and language pathologists, curriculum directors, school and district administrators, and educator preparation faculty from across Massachusetts. Eleven researchers with a variety of specializations related to early literacy provided advisement. Numerous additional higher education faculty, public school educators, and colleagues from 10 partner organizations advised further on the guide's organization, content, scope, and accuracy. This comprehensive guide is responsive to student data, informed by the voices of Massachusetts educators, and aligned to the scientific evidence base for early literacy instruction.
For more about this process, please see the June 30, 2020 Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Board memo (agenda item 2).
Thank you for visiting Mass Literacy! Please submit questions or comments.
Sincere thanks to the individuals who contributed their valuable time, ideas, enthusiasm, and expertise to the creation of this guide.
Last Updated: December 18, 2020
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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