Virginia Literacy Act Implementation - Community Corner

The Virginia Literacy Act is legislation focused on improving literacy outcomes for students in K-8.  The legislation focuses on changes in instructional practice, assessment, and teacher preparation to align with the science of reading and evidence-based literacy instruction.  CCPS is excited to continue our work toward VLA implementation and further enhance our literacy knowledge and instructional practices.  Information and resources about the Virginia Literacy Act and implementation are located below.

The VLA is the Virginia Literacy Act.  The legislation focuses on changes in instructional practice, assessment, and teacher preparation to align with the science of reading, and school divisions must achieve compliance by the start of the 24-25 school year. This legislation requires school districts to implement evidence-based literacy instruction and assessment in K-8 classrooms in Virginia.  This is to be done through teacher training, curriculum and supplemental resources, and a division-wide literacy plan.

CCPS has already begun working on making changes to instruction and assessment in grades K-5 to implement evidence-based literacy instruction.  Some instructional practices have stayed the same, but others have been modified or shed from division requirements.  Teacher training for K-3 teachers has begun with teachers taking the LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) course. Review of instructional practices and training for additional grade levels will be coming soon.

One of the main components of the act requires the implementation of evidence-based literacy instruction for students in K-8. Evidence-based literacy instruction refers to classroom instruction that is based on the science of reading research.  The VLA requires that instructional strategies must be evidence-based.

The science of reading is a body of research from many different fields that explains reading development at different stages and reading instructional practices including phonological awareness, explicit phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension instruction. Overall, it describes the research behind how students learn to read. Reading is not a naturally developing skill.  Being a reader uses many parts of the brain, and teaching students with evidence-based literacy instruction helps students to develop the connections needed between those parts.  English is a complicated language to learn because it has both a sound and meaning layer connected to how words are spelled.

LETRS or Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling was developed by Dr. Louisa Moats and Dr. Carol Tolman and is intended to provide in-depth knowledge of reading research and how to apply it in the classroom.  An important component of the Virginia Literacy Act is the focus on professional development.  In CCPS, the kindergarten through third grade teachers are completing LETRS as their professional development to learn about evidenced-based literacy instruction.

For this year, CCPS will continue to use Units of Study in Writing as our elementary writing curriculum. This provides a division wide curriculum structure with resources for teachers and students.  Units of Study uses the evidence-based practices of providing focused writing lessons, modeling, working with mentor texts, focusing on writing process, developing knowledge of literary forms, and providing feedback to students through conferring.  Additionally, the common prompts allow for grade level examination of student work, writing scoring calibration, and data tracking.  CCPS intends to pursue a comprehensive K-5 language arts curriculum adoption, that includes writing, as soon as the approved list from the VDOE is released.

CCPS has carefully reviewed the resources currently available and created a Bridge to Implementation document that reflects if the resources are still in use, modified, or being shed for this school year.  Changes have also been made to the CCPS Elementary Master Schedule Guidelines to align with evidence-based literacy instruction practices.

The VDOE, in connection with the Virginia Literacy Partnerships office, will publish a list of approved resources for Tier 1 instruction and supplemental programs in K-5 this winter after it is approved by the state Board of Education.  The resources list has been published for K-3. CCPS will review the K-5 list when it is available and initiate the process of adopting a new core curriculum for the coming year.

One important change that was considered is expanding explicit, systematic instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics.  Words Their Way is an example of this.  The program is intended for use as an analytic model of spelling and phonics instruction, but the VLA recommended evidence-based practice is explicit instruction of a phonics concept.  The resource use is being modified to focus on explicit instruction of concepts as a way to incorporate its continued use for this school year.

CCPS Kindergarten -3rd grade teachers are currently participating in LETRS Volume 1 training.  This extensive course covers the research behind the science of reading and planning effective literacy instruction that includes phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and writing.  Volume 1 focuses on phonemic awareness and phonics instruction especially.  Elementary school reading specialists, in addition to completing LETRS, are attending Virginia Literacy Partnerships sponsored literacy institutes that consist of two days of in person training and then online modules in reading science, data literacy, phonological awareness, targeted instruction, fluency, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and assessment.   Teachers of students in 4th-8th grade will receive training in the science of reading and evidence based instruction starting next school year.  There have been optional opportunities offered during this current school year.  Elementary and middle school administrators have been attending monthly Literacy Learning sessions covering the science of reading, explicit instruction, data literacy, phonological awareness, and phonics.

CCPS will have a location on the website that will contain information about the Virginia Literacy Act, a FAQ document, and links for additional resources.  CCPS will also use the CCPS Express to communicate important information with families and the community.

CCPS is pursuing adoption of a K-5 core English Language Arts instructional program to positively impact student literacy outcomes and as a component of the Virginia Literacy Act implementation. The Virginia Literacy Act requires the use of evidence-based instructional materials that are aligned with the science of reading. In order to adopt the best instructional program for CCPS, the K-5 Core ELA Instructional Program Advisory Group, comprised of stakeholder representatives from areas across CCPS, was formed to review the instructional programs.

On March 6, 2024, the Advisory Group ranked the programs according to the program rating rubrics. The group members chose Benchmark Advance and HMH Into Reading as the instructional programs best suited to the needs of CCPS. 

Samples of the instructional programs will be available at each of the elementary schools and at the School Board Office on March 11-25th during regular school hours.   Parents and community stakeholders are invited to review materials at their child’s zone school or school board office. A Google form survey will be available for reviewers to rate the program and give feedback.  The forms need to be completed by March 25th and the finalist will be determined that week.  The final selection will be presented to the school board on April 8th for approval.  

Thank you for being a part of this process! 

For more information on the programs, please visit the following resources:

To complete the survey for the K-5 Core English Language Arts Instructional Program Review, click the survey linked here

On January 25, 2024, the Virginia Board of Education accepted the Draft 2024 English Standards of Learning presented for first review. A Side-by-Side Comparison of 2017 and Proposed 2024 English Standards of Learning was also presented. The 2024 English Standards of learning will be instructionally implemented during the 2024 – 2025 School Year.

The Virginia Board of Education will hold public hearings on the proposed 2024 English Standards of Learning. The Standards of Learning identify the essential content, processes, and skills for grade levels and subject courses. The proposed 2024 English Standards of Learning can be accessed on the Virginia Department of Education’s website. Public comment regarding the proposed 2024 English Standards of Learning may be offered through public hearings or public comment through the Virginia Department of Education website until March 1, 2024.   

Each in-person public hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. Registration of speakers will begin at 6:10 p.m. Speakers will have three minutes to speak and should bring copies of their comments for the Board of Education. Virtual public hearings will be held at a variety of times to accommodate public participation. In case of inclement weather, in-person hearings will transition to virtual and notice will be given and registration links provided on the Review and Revision of the 2017 English SOL page. Public hearings will be held at the following locations and times:   

Public Comment – Online  Educators and the public may submit comments using the online public comment form through March 1, 2024. 

Public Hearings – In-Person  

The closest in-person public hearing to CCPS will be held in Midlothian on February 20, 2024. 

  • February 20, 2024 
    In-Person 6:30 p.m. 
    Thomas R. Fulgham Conference Center 
    Chesterfield Career & Technical Center 
    13900 Hull Street 
    Midlothian, VA 
    Directions to Location  


Public Hearings – Virtual

The Virginia School Board seeks comments to acquire quality feedback to help Virginia create best in class Standards for the children of the Commonwealth. Public comment regarding the proposed 2024 English Language Arts Standards of Learning.  

After a thorough review process, CCPS has selected Benchmark Advance as the proposed K-5 English Language Arts instructional program.  Many stakeholders from across the division and the community provided their feedback about the two instructional program finalists, and Benchmark Advance received 95% of the votes.  The CCPS School Board will review the selection and vote at the May 13th school board meeting. 

For more information about Benchmark Advance: