The Mission of the Literacy Program Department includes and supports District 15's mission to produce world-class learners by building a connected learning community.

    The Goals of the Literacy Program Department support the Board of Education goals and emphasize integrating technology across the district, ensuring that District 15 students meet or exceed state and world-class standards, excelling as an organization and raising the benchmarks, building a connected learning community, and becoming a world-class educational system.

    The Literacy Program also supports the district's student performance targets:

    • Every student entering kindergarten in District 15 reads at or above grade level when completing second grade.
    • At least 90 percent of students who have been in the district for one year meet or exceed all Illinois learning standards.


    The Literacy Program Curriculum is aligned to the Illinois State Standards and Benchmarks as well as the District 15 Learner Statements. The Illinois State Goals and Standards for Language Arts include State Goals 1-5:

    State Goal 1: Read with understanding and fluency

    State Goal 2: Read and understand literature representative of various societies, eras, and ideas

    State Goal 3: Write to communicate for a variety of purposes

    State Goal 4: Listen and speak effectively in a variety of situations

    State Goal 5: Use language arts to acquire, assess, and communicate information


    Balanced Literacy

    District 15 uses a balanced literacy framework across all schools and grade levels (K-8). Students in grades 1-6 receive 120 minutes of instruction each day. Junior high students have two periods each day of reading/language arts instruction. All instruction provides a flexible combination of the following:


    Word study incorporates spelling, phonics (at lower grade levels), and vocabulary development. Word study may be a whole-class or cooperative group activity. Primary grades study high frequency words and patterns words; in intermediate and junior high classes, word study frequently supports curriculum content. See Words Their Way Word Study Program for more information.


    Comprehension includes both shared and guided reading. Shared reading is generally a whole class activity with a high level of teacher support. Shared reading involves problem-solving and supported reading. Guided reading is usually done in small groups with less teacher support and more student control of text. Guided reading gives teachers an opportunity to see if students are applying the strategies taught in shared reading. 


    Fluency instruction may be whole group, small group, or individual instruction. Fluent readers are able to focus more attention on comprehension. Independent reading helps students to become fluent readers by providing time during the school day for them to practice reading. Students choose and read books within their reading levels. Independent reading time provides teachers an opportunity to meet individually and with small groups of students to discuss their progress in reading.


    Learning to write begins in primary grades with shared, guided, and independent writing. Topics for writing assignments are balanced between teacher-assigned subjects and those that students select themselves. Writing often takes place in a writer's workshop format with the use of mini-lessons, writing, individual and small group conferences, and sharing time as an effective model.


    The following resources are board-approved materials. They are research-based and provide best practice for instruction so that all students in District 15 have an opportunity to meet State Goals and Standards as well as the District 15 performance targets.

    • Harcourt Trophies reading program (K-6 mainstream classrooms)
    • McGraw-Hill Lectura (K-3 bilingual classrooms)
    • Scholastic Transitions program (Grade 3 bilingual classrooms)
    • Houghton Mifflin Transitions programs (Grade 4 bilingual classrooms)
    • Scholastic Guided Reading (LD/BD self-contained classrooms)
    • Prentice Hall Literature program (7-8 classrooms)

    Reading Consultant Specialists (RCS)

    Classroom teachers are the critical component for effective literacy instruction. Each school in the district also has a reading specialist on staff to provide additional support and expertise. The reading specialist supports the Literacy Program to classrooms and serves as a resource to all teachers in a building.

    Grades K-2

    Grades 3-6

    • Assist in identifying students who qualify for intervention services
    • Train and coach program assistants to work with intervention students
    • Monitor progress of students in the intervention programs to ensure effective instruction and achievement
    • Assist in identifying students who qualify for intervention services
    • Directly service intervention students using the Soar To Success program
    • Monitor progress of students to ensure effective instruction and achievement


    • Provide support to teachers for the Harcourt Trophies program
    • Co-teach balanced literacy and differentiated instruction lessons in the mainstream classrooms
    • Meet with grade-level teams for planning and consultation
    • Provide professional materials and readings to building staff and administrators

    A district-level literacy director and coordinator provide resources, training and support for teachers while continually assessing student needs, determining best practices, and evaluating current research to be sure that District 15 students are receiving the best possible instruction.

    Junior High

    Language Arts (reading, writing, listening, and speaking)

    • Students in both grades will participate in a double period of language arts each day (a reading class and a writing class). The curriculum balances the teaching and learning of reading strategies, writing processes, listening, and speaking skills.


    Most District 15 students successfully learn to read in a regular classroom environment. For some students, learning to read is more difficult. Students who need additional reading support are identified in several ways, including test scores, classroom performance, teacher referrals, and reading inventory testing. The district proactively addresses the needs of these students at all grade levels with a variety of programs designed to help them learn and apply appropriate reading strategies. They include:

    • Kindergarten Intervention Program (KIP) in English or Spanish
      At-risk students work one-on-one with a trained tutor for 15 minutes daily in addition to regular classroom reading instruction.
    • First-grade Literacy Intervention Program (FLIP) in English or Spanish
      Students in FLIP receive 30 minutes of daily one-on-one instruction from a trained tutor in addition to regular classroom reading instruction.

    • Leveled Literacy Interventions (LLI)
      Small groups of students meet four times per week for 40 minutes of supplementary instruction in reading and writing. Carefully leveled books provide the appropriate amount of support and challenge to help readers make gains. 
    • Second-grade Acceleration in Literacy (SAIL)
      Small groups of 2-4 students receive 40 minutes of instruction twice each week. Each student also receives one-on-one instruction two or three times a week in addition to regular classroom reading instruction.
    • Soar to Success
      Students in grades three through six who are one year or more below grade level in reading comprehension benefit from Soar to Success, which uses quality literature, proven strategies, and powerful graphic organizers to accelerate reading growth.
    • InStep
      InStep, for third to sixth graders, focuses on key competencies of reading, language, and developmental phonics.
    • Read 180
      This program combines computer-based individual instruction, whole group and small group instruction, and individual reading using high-interest, age-appropriate print materials.
    • System 44
      System 44 is a reading intervention program for students in Grades 4-8. This program provides support for older readers who have some difficulty decoding English words. System 44 is a combination of highly motivating computer-based individualized work and small-group instruction. At the computer, students receive intensive instruction in English phonics. In their small group instruction, the focus shifts to comprehension and vocabulary development. System 44 may be used alone or in combination with Read 180.
    • Reading Instructional Goals for Older Reading (RIGOR) 
      RIGOR is a literacy intervention program for all students in Grades 4-8 who are still preliterate or reading at or below the third-grade level. It is designed to accelerate the literacy and language development of the student. RIGOR’s research-based strategies can make a difference for students with interrupted formal education, long-term ELLs, and special needs students.

    Strategies for Parents—Helping Your Child Become a Better Reader (English PDF / Spanish PDF).


    Colleen Mullins 
    District Literacy Coordinator
    Phone: 847-963-3122