Introducing the Scholastic Literacy Framework: A Q&A with Dr. Amanda Alexander, Chief Academic Officer

Anonymous  //  Mar 15, 2024

Introducing the Scholastic Literacy Framework: A Q&A with Dr. Amanda Alexander, Chief Academic Officer

Research informs all that we do at Scholastic. We rely on rigorous research studies to help guide our program and product development and professional learning services. 

Countless assessments point to the same result - reading test scores are dropping across the nation. The Scholastic Literacy Framework was created to ensure Scholastic’s offerings  have a positive impact on teaching and learning.

Today, we talked with Scholastic Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Amanda Alexander, to share more about why the Scholastic Literacy Framework is critical to the work the team is doing to improve student learning outcomes. 

What is the Scholastic Literacy Framework?

The Scholastic Literacy Framework is a representation of the core principles that are fundamental to both effective literacy instruction and our collective work at Scholastic Education Solutions. It is a compelling, research-based narrative that grounds our team in helping to close achievement gaps, and ensure learning is equitable, and instruction is effective. 

Why is the Literacy Framework important now more than ever?

We cannot ignore the data. While cognitive research suggests that 95% of the U.S. school population can learn to read when exposed to effective curriculum and instruction, data from the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) indicate that only 33% of fourth-graders and 31% of eighth-graders performed at or above the NAEP Proficient level. 

Many school leaders are searching for ways to deliver effective literacy instruction and quickly close these gaps. The road to pandemic recovery and equity will be long and challenging. Data tell us that students in grades 3-8 only recovered 10% to 25% of their pandemic reading loss in the 2021-22 school year. Researchers argue that returning to pre-pandemic achievement levels could take at least four years. 

Schools do not have the luxury of time as they consider paths to accelerate student learning. Teachers and students need  carefully curated collections of evidence-based resources that effectively and efficiently target student needs. Our aim is to ensure that children have the ability to read, write, comprehend and realize their full potential through literacy.

Will you tell us more about the core principles found in the Scholastic Literacy Framework that drive Scholastic Education Solutions? 

There are five evidence-based principles outlined in the Scholastic Literacy Framework that unite all of Scholastic Education Solutions’ products and services. These are:

  1. Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction
  2. Responsiveness
  3. Equity & Belonging
  4. Wellbeing
  5. Joy

Literacy is at the core of the framework and our north star at Scholastic Education Solutions. It is inclusive of reading, writing, listening and speaking and should be treated broadly as one that supports children’s ability to build knowledge, make connections to themselves and others and problem solve. Our evidence-based approach to effective literacy instruction, rooted in the late Dr. Carol Connor’s research, is comprised of four components:

  1. Teacher managed code focused instruction
  2. Teacher managed meaning focused instruction
  3. Child-managed code focused instruction and 
  4. Child-managed meaning focused instruction

This research demonstrates that explicit, teacher-led instruction in foundational literacy skills and comprehension is necessary to ensure that students are proficient readers. It also shows that student agency in learning to read is important, particularly as they move beyond initial skill acquisition. Thus, we embrace a four component approach to instruction. 

Responsiveness is really about leveraging assessment data to identify student strengths and areas for growth and using that data to meet the individual instructional needs of each student. The research is clear that when teachers differentiate their instruction, students learn.  

Responsiveness at the highest level creates equity in learning outcomes and grants learners a true sense of belonging in the literacy classroom. At Scholastic Education Solutions, we honor every child’s cultural heritage, individuality, and difference. We provide opportunities for students to learn about various aspects of their own identity as well as the identities of others, helping to build empathy, understanding, and community. We are also committed to fostering equitable access to quality learning opportunities for every student, regardless of where they are in their learning journey, to help close achievement gaps. 

Supporting children in developing the executive function skills and social-emotional competencies that will help them to thrive is also core to our framework. We offer literacy experiences designed to nurture social, emotional, and mental well-being to help students develop the tools needed to confront and tackle the many challenges of learning and learning to read. 

And finally, our framework highlights joy as a key factor in ensuring all of our solutions speak to children’s hearts, spark their curiosity, and inspire their imagination. Learning and loving to read leads to finding joy in all that books have to offer. There are many benefits to pleasure reading and voluminous reading such as increased academic achievement and improved health and mental health outcomes.  In this framework, we are articulating how we think about literacy teaching and learning at Scholastic.  While joy and voluminous reading are important, systematic and explicit instruction is fundamental.  There is no joy in doing something that you cannot do successfully. Our framework was created to help ensure we remain steadfast to our commitment to help every child learn to read so that they may have the opportunity to find joy in reading and success in life.

How will the Scholastic Literacy Framework impact students at home? 

The Literacy Framework elevates, summarizes, and reinforces some of the scientific evidence of what is necessary for students to become fluent readers and successful learners–from foundational reading skills to finding joy in reading and learning. Many of our education products, including our My Books Summer PacksSchool Readiness and School Success kits are distributed through our district and school partners to families to help provide caregivers with the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to support learning at home. The principles of the framework guide the publishing of these family resources as well as many of our consumer products including My First Phonics workbooks, Our Voices Home & Family set and our  Laugh-a-lot and Nonfiction Phonics packs. At home, families can further help foster a culture of reading and community by practicing early literacy skills, sharing read-alouds, discussing and learning about other cultures, and serving as reading role models for their children by simply reading themselves.

What are some new products or programs that are being created under the guidance of the Framework’s principles?

We are excited to launch two new phonics solutions to strengthen educators’ code-focused instruction. Our Stories Decodables is a new series of culturally affirming books for Grades K–3 designed for young readers to read on their own, that will fill a much-needed gap in the market for culturally relevant and affirming phonics materials. These books represent diverse children and families authentically, respectfully, and lovingly, and were created through a unique collaboration with diverse writers from HBCUs (students and alumni) and the University of Oregon.

Also launching this summer are our new Ready4Reading Phonics Booster Kits. These kits provide systematic and explicit phonics instruction that support Science of Reading best practices and prepare students to enter the upcoming school year with success.

To learn more about foundational reading skills research, partners, and solutions, please visit the website. Follow @ScholasticEdu on X and @Scholastic on LinkedIn for more updates on Scholastic Education Solutions!

Dr. Amanda Alexander, Chief Academic Officer at Scholastic, has direct oversight of the Education Solutions’ Research & Validation and Professional Learning teams. She and her team focus on professional learning offerings for educators, ensuring the efficacy of the division’s educational products, and advancing research to inform both product development as well as the broader industry to help improve academic and social emotional outcomes for all children. Additionally, Amanda is responsible for strategically bringing to practice the learnings and expertise of the Yale Child Study Center-Scholastic Collaborative for Child and Family Resilience.