Instructional Terms

Accommodation: An accommodation is not an intervention. It is intended to help the student fully access and participate in the general-education curriculum without changing the instructional content and without reducing the student’s rate of learning (Skinner, Pappas & Davis, 2005). An accommodation is intended to remove barriers to learning while still expecting that students will master the same instructional content as their typical peers.

ATSS: Arlington Tiered System of Support(ATSS)
The Virginia Department of Education defines a Tiered System of Support as a framework and philosophy that provides resources and supports to help every student reach success in academics and behavior. It begins with systemic change at the division, school and classroom level that utilizes evidence-based, system-wide practices to provide a quick response to academic and behavioral needs. These practices include frequent progress monitoring that enable educators to make sound, data-based instructional decisions for students.

Balanced Literacy:Modeled, shared, guided, and independent reading and writing, as well as spelling and vocabulary form the basis for balanced literacy instructional approaches. These approaches need to vary and adapt depending on where students are in their literacy learning. Each of these approaches involves different degrees of teacher and learner responsibility as well as different types of teacher planning and instructional support.

Comprehension: Reading comprehension is the ability to read text, process it and understand its meaning. Comprehension is influenced by many factors such as concept of word, word recognition, text complexity, background knowledge, and motivation.

Curriculum: Curriculum refers to the means and materials with which students will interact for the purpose of achieving identified educational outcomes.

Curriculum Framework: A curriculum framework is an organized plan or set of standards or learning outcomes that defines the content to be learned in terms of clear, definable standards of what the student should know and be able to do.
Developmental Model: Developmental Model is an approach to teaching that is grounded in research. Its framework is designed to promote students’ optimal learning and development. It involves teachers meeting students’ where they are (by stage of development) both as individuals and as part of a group; and helping each student meet challenging and achievable learning goals.
ELL: English Language Learners, or ELLs, are students who are unable to communicate fluently or learn effectively in English, who often come from non-English-speaking homes and backgrounds, and who typically require specialized or modified instruction in both the English language and in their academic courses.
ESOL/HILT: The English for Speakers of Other Languages/High Intensity Language Training (ESOL/HILT) program of Arlington Public Schools serves students from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Fluency: Fluency is the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression. In order to understand what they read, students must be able to read fluently whether they are reading aloud or silently. Fluency is the bridge between word recognition and comprehension.

Guided Reading: Guided reading is an instructional approach that allows teachers to work with students in flexible, small group settings. It is tailored to student proficiencies, needs, and instructional reading level. A guided reading lesson has three components: before (lays the foundation for reading), during(heart of the lesson; students practice and apply reading strategies and skills), and after (teacher checks for understanding) reading.

IAT: The Intervention Assistance Teams is an informal collaborative process that is designed to help promote students’ success in the regular education classroom. Intervention strategies such as alternative or modified learning instruction and/or behavior management techniques may be developed to:

  • improve the student’s academic performance;
  • improve the student’s behavior, or
  • improve and refine teaching skills so that the classroom teacher is able to teach students with diverse educational needs.

IEP: TheIndividualized Education Program(IEP) is a written document required for each child who is eligible to receive special education services. It is provided to a student who has been determined first to have a disability and, second, to need special education services because of that disability.
Inclusion: Inclusion happens when children with and withoutdisabilities participate and learn together in the same classes.

Independent Reading: Independent reading is reading by students on their own or with a partner so that they can apply and strengthen reading strategies and skills previously taught. Students are involved in choosing and reading materials based on interest as well as recommendations made by others including teachers and peers.

Instructional Intervention: An instructional intervention is additional skill instruction that supports and intensifies classroom instruction and is provided to students for the primary purpose of increasing proficiency levels. Such approaches can be administered both in and out of the traditional classroom.

LEP: Limited English Proficiency (LEP) means persons who are unable to communicate effectively in English because their primary language is not English and they have not developed fluency in the English language.

Phonemic Awareness: Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds, phonemes, in spoken words.

Phonics: Phonics is the relationship between letters (graphemes) of written language and the individual sounds (phonemes) of spoken language.

Phonological Awareness: Phonological awareness is the ability to recognize that words are made up of a variety ofsound units. The term encompasses a number of sound related skills necessary for a person to develop as a reader: understanding that words are made up of small sound units (phonemes), that words can be segmented into larger sound “chunks” known as syllables and each syllable begins with a sound (onset) and ends with another sound (rime).

Reading Workshop: Reading Workshop helps students develop strong reading skills through the use of a read aloud, mini-lesson, shared reading, small group instruction, independent reading, writing about reading, conferring, and Reader’s Chair. The basic philosophy behind Reading Workshop is to allow students to spend an extended amount of time reading authentic texts that interest them on a daily basis and to provide opportunities to talk about literature.

Scope and Sequence: Scope is defined as “a clearly stated set of K-12 learning objectives that reflects local, state, and national expectations. Sequence is the order in which those objectives are taught.” (Nichols, Shidaker, Johnson, & Singer, 2006)“Together a scope and sequence of learning bring order to the delivery of content, supporting the maximizing of student learning and offering sustained opportunities for learning.” (ACT Department of Education and Training, 2009)

Structured Literacy: The International Dyslexia Association,after surveying professionals, teachers and parents, has adopted “Structured Literacy” to describe the family of reading instruction that goes by many names(Orton-Gillingham, Multi-Sensory, Explicit Phonics and others). It is an umbrella term designed to describe all of the programs that teach reading in essentially the same way through a synthetic, highly-structured, explicit phonetic approach.

Universal Screener: Administering a universal screener is the first step in identifying students who are at risk for learning difficulties. It is the mechanism for targeting students who struggle to learn when provided a scientific, evidence-based general education(Jenkins, Hudson, & Johnson, 2007). Universal screening is typically conducted three times per school year, in the fall, winter, and spring. Universal screening measures consist of brief assessments focused on target skills (e.g., phonological awareness) that are highly predictive of future outcomes (Jenkins, 2003).

Vocabulary: Vocabulary refers to the words students must know to communicate effectively. Oralvocabulary refers to words that are used in speaking or recognized in listening. Reading vocabulary refers to words recognized or used in print. Vocabulary is highly correlated to comprehension.

Whole Language: Whole language is an approach to teaching reading and writing which differs in many ways from the traditional system. In the simplest terms,the “whole language approach” is a method of teaching children to read by recognizing words as whole pieces of language. Proponents of the whole language philosophy believe that language should not be broken down into letters and combinations of letters and “decoded.” Instead, they believe that language is a complete system of making meaning, with words functioning in relation to each other in context.

WIDA Levels: English language learners are measured on English language proficiency using the six WIDA proficiency levels (1-entering,2-beginning, 3-developing, 4-expanding, 5-bridging, and 6-reaching).

Word Study: Word study is a developmental approach to instruction in phonics, spelling, word recognition, and vocabulary.

Writing Workshop: Writing workshop is a framework for writing instruction and practice in the classroom. It is based upon four principles: students will write about their own lives, they will use a consistent writing process, they will work in authentic ways, and it will foster independence. Students have a large amount of choice in their topic and style of writing. The format consists of a mini lesson, independent writing, conferring with students, and sharing of student work.


ACCESS: Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State (ACCESS) for English Language Learners is a large-scale test that first and foremost addresses the English language development standards that form the core of the WIDA Consortium’s approach to instructing and testing English language learners. These standards incorporate a set of model performance indicators (PIs) that describe the expectations educators have of ELL students at four different grade level clusters and in five different content areas.

DRA2: The Developmental Reading Assessment(DRA2) is an individually administered assessment of a child’s reading capabilities. It is a tool to be used by teachers to identify a student’s reading level, accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. It provides teachers with a method for assessing and documenting students’ development as readers overtime.

PALS: The Phonological Awareness and Literacy Screening (PALS) is the state-provided screening tool for Virginia’s Early Intervention Reading Initiative. PALS measures young children’s knowledge of letter sounds, spelling, concept of word, word recognition in isolation, and oral passage reading. The major purpose of PALS is to identify those students who are below grade-level expectations in these areas and may be in need of additional reading instruction.

SOL: TheStandards of Learning (SOL) are a public school standardized testing program in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It sets forth learning and achievement expectations for core subjects for grades K-12 in Virginia’s Public Schools.

SRI: The Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) is a computer adaptive reading comprehension test. It provides immediate, actionable data on students’ reading levels and growth over time.

This 2018-2019 End of Quarter Instructional Expectations for Reading document provides additional guidance and information regarding the End of Quarter Expectations for Reading, for grades K-5.