IDA Introduces “Structured Literacy”

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In July the IDA Board of Directors made a landmark decision designed to help market effective reading instruction. The Board chose a name that would encompass all approaches to reading instruction that conform to IDA’s Knowledge and Practice Standards. That name is “structured literacy.”

“If we want school districts to adopt our approach, we need a name that brings together our successes. We need one name that refers to the many programs that teach reading in the same way. A name is the first and essential step to building a brand,” wrote IDA president Hal Malchow in a recent newsletter article.

IDA reached out to 300 professional members and asked them to suggest names. Based upon that input, the national office prepared a list of ten names and asked more than 700 professionals to select the three they most preferred. They then polled parents and teachers on their preferences, which were subsequently reviewed by the IDA Board. At its July meeting, the IDA Board unanimously adopted the term “structured literacy.”

Malchow explains that the term “structured literacy” is not designed to replace Orton-Gillingham, multisensory, or other terms in common use. Rather, it is an umbrella term designed to describe all of the programs that teach reading in essentially the same way.

“In our marketing, this term will help us simplify our message and connect our successes,” wrote Malchow. “The term will help us market what we do so well and will let IDA bring best practices into more classrooms.”

IDA is currently in the process of recruiting allied organizations to join in a coalition to change how reading is taught in America’s classrooms, according to Malchow.

Certification Exam in Development

IDA has also signed a contract with Applied Measurement Professionals, Inc., to help build an exam that will certify reading professionals. The exam will test knowledge and expertise in structured literacy, the approach to reading described in IDA’s Knowledge and Practice Standards. There will be three levels of certification. The top two levels will require a practicum as well as passage of the exam. The third level of certification, for classroom teachers, will require only passage of the exam. Writing, testing, and finalizing the exam will require some time, but IDA expects the certification exam to be ready in early 2016.