Learning Leader

La Joya ISD Sees Success of Comprehensive Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Project

Schools face a daunting challenge helping students who cannot read, or who read at very low levels. An impactful way to address this challenge is to develop systems that prevent students from falling behind in reading during their first years at school. Seeing a need for the development of such systems, the Children’s Learning Institute proposed the Comprehensive Multi-Tiered Systems of Support project. The purpose of the CMTSS was to develop a systematic approach for the prevention of reading difficulties in young children who are at-risk for reading failure. Relying on our long history of supporting educators, the project is comprised of components that were thoroughly researched, thoughtfully integrated, and diligently supported.

 The CMTSS project initially included four major components:

  1. Professional development and ongoing coaching for classroom teachers on the multi-tiered systems of supports model.
  2. Curriculum enhancement materials to support struggling readers: Texas School Ready resources, Developing Talkers program to support oral language development, and Reading RULES to support the decoding and reading comprehension of students.
  3. Assessment tools to determine the level of instructional support needed for each student.
  4. Specialized training on intensive intervention models to deliver individualized support for the most at-risk students.

Project implementation began during the 2015-2016 school year at La Joya Independent School District, a district eager and able to invest in the leadership, time, and attention necessary for comprehensive change. La Joya ISD embraced the project in accordance with their vision “Educational Excellence: The Right of Every Student.” Serving almost 30,000 students, the sizable district offered project participation across all 23 of their elementary schools. Kathy Pulido, Elementary Language Art Coordinator, said, “This research study has allowed children at La Joya ISD to excel in language and literacy. In a district that is over 94% economically disadvantaged, building language and literacy is of utmost importance.”

During the first two years of the CMTSS project, the majority of implementation efforts were with English classrooms. Because almost two-thirds of the prekindergarten and kindergarten classrooms in La Joya ISD were bilingual classrooms, the project expanded to include a pilot study of Hablemos Juntos, the Spanish language counterpart to Developing Talkers. During the 2017-2018 school year, all remaining bilingual classrooms were introduced to the Hablemos Juntos curriculum. Including the bilingual classrooms integrated the project’s impact to all of the nearly 200 prekindergarten and kindergarten classrooms in the district.

Below are samples of comments received from CMTSS project participants.

Hablemos Juntos Feedback:

  • New teachers are learning how to include instruction in vocabulary and reading comprehension throughout their read-alouds.
  • Teachers are excited about how Hablemos Juntos helps them to provide high quality oral language and vocabulary support for their struggling students.
  • Students are excited about using words they are taught, and keep using them.
  • Teachers are transferring Hablemos Juntos instructional approaches to other read-alouds and subjects.
  • Teachers appreciate that all the materials are ready for them and are organized in a way that makes them easy and efficient to use.
  • Administrators have enthusiastically embraced Hablemos Juntos because they recognize how it is bringing high quality vocabulary instruction into their bilingual early childhood classrooms.

Reading RULES and Developing Talkers Feedback:

  • The explicitness of lessons has helped teachers keep on track with teaching a sequence of skills so that they can provide effective support for struggling students.
  • Administrators appreciate the explicit lessons and recognize that using the curricula has improved their teachers’ instruction.
  • Teachers comment on how well training prepared them, and on how the design of the curricula and materials allow them to focus on their instruction without wasting any time.
  • Administrators report that they have seen reading data improvement for struggling students on assessments.

With generous support from the Dan L Duncan Family Foundation and the committed involvement of La Joya ISD, the project has been a resounding success. Current efforts at La Joya ISD focus on the challenge of sustaining improvement. The Children’s Learning Institute wants to ensure that students continue to realize positive effect through and beyond elementary school. The enduring legacy of the CMTSS project in La Joya ISD will be the thousands of students who are better prepared to thrive throughout their lifetime due to the strength of the early reading support they received as young children.

To learn more about the curricula used in this project, visit the Developing Talkers and Reading RULESwebsites.



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