Supporting literacy success for all students with comprehensive programs

Direct Instruction's Corrective Reading closes achievement gaps with early intervention at Michigan district

By all accounts, Marysville School District in Michigan is a high-success, high-performance district. While the average state graduation rate hovers at about 78 percent, Marysville graduates 95 percent of its students. It’s a point of pride that students exit Marysville—a suburban community located 55 miles northeast of Detroit—prepared to meet the rigorous demands of higher education.

With high performance comes popularity, and that’s causing some challenges. Marysville Schools is highest in its county as a “school of choice” wherein parents of students from other districts can opt for their child to attend Marysville as long as space allows. As a result, 18 percent of the 2,800 student population, or over 500 students, live outside of the district.

An all-inclusive solution

The reading curriculum was also showing its age, and due to changing standards, slipped out of alignment. Shawn Wightman, superintendent, realized that academic achievement gaps were beginning to show. “We were having pockets of kids who weren’t achieving to the level we were expecting them to. We didn’t have a progress monitoring system in place for reading. We didn’t want kids going from grade to grade undetected.”

That led Wightman and his team to select Corrective Reading, one in a series of Direct Instruction programs from McGraw-Hill Education, starting in the 2014-15 school year. Corrective Reading is specifically for readers who struggle with decoding and comprehension and who are lagging by one or more years in reading ability. Its purpose is to develop critically important literacy skills for readers grades 3 and up.

The tipping point for selecting Corrective Reading was the embedded professional development. “We wanted to make sure the kids not only were going to get research-based Tier 3 support with Corrective Reading, but we wanted to make sure it was being done with fidelity” says Wightman. “We were able to get our teachers trained, and we were also able to have an expert coach those who were actually practitioners in the classroom, the ones working with the students in the program. That’s a huge advantage and benefit.”

Early intervention leads to positive results

The plan at Marysville going forward is to confront reading issues as early as possible. While intervention currently happens from grades 3 through 12, Wightman notes that the use of Corrective Reading beginning at grade 3 will allow all students to be reading on level by the time they reach middle school, when the stakes get significantly higher. That result will make everyone happy—teachers, administrators and parents.

“A number of parents talked to me about how great it was to have Direct Instruction for their kids” says Wightman. “They’re very happy and pleased. Students are tracking better, they’re able to read with more fluency, their comprehension is improved, and their decoding is better.”

With success in reading comes the ability to succeed in other subjects as well. “A number of teachers have brought it to my attention that they were not only seeing reading gains, but students were carrying those skills over to other subjects. Reading clearly benefits all other subject areas” says Wightman. “We’re very pleased with the Direct Instruction model and the results we’re seeing here in the district.”

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