Literacy Education

The Hempfield School District recognizes that the definition of literacy guides the way reading is taught across all grade levels and within all content areas.  We believe reading is a complex, interactive process, using basic skills and advanced thinking strategies to make meaning, and that becoming a competent, independent reader is a developmental process involving the social, personal, cognitive and knowledge-building dimensions of learning.  We believe reading and writing are reciprocal processes.


The Hempfield School District’s literacy program focuses on evidence-based best practices within a comprehensive framework of instruction. At the elementary level that framework includes the “five pillars” identified by the National Reading Panel (2000): phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Although basic skills are essential components of literacy, reasoning and critical thinking are also of great importance.  In addition to systematic skills instruction, we place an emphasis on teaching for meaning that includes attention to motivation, composition, oral language, and critical thinking.

At the secondary level that framework includes the Fifteen Elements of Effective Adolescent Programs identified by the Alliance for Excellent Education in the Reading Next document (2004).  The fifteen elements are: explicit direct comprehension instruction, effective instructional principles embedded in content, motivation and self-directed learning, text-based collaborative learning, strategic tutoring, diverse texts, intensive writing, a technology component, ongoing formative assessments, extended time for literacy, professional development, ongoing summative assessment, teacher teams, leadership, and a comprehensive and coordinated literacy program.


The goal of the Hempfield School District reading program is to ensure that all students reach their literacy potential in order to meet the demands of our 21st Century society. All Hempfield students should be able to read and write in different genres and for a variety of purposes and audiences.  They should be active, strategic, and independent users of print, spoken language, and electronic text.