The Science of Reading

Every student deserves grade-appropriate curriculum and strong instruction, provided by teachers who are engaged, prepared, and supported. Effective literacy instruction is core to that vision.

Unfortunately, too many students today are being taught to read via methods proven ineffective.


Strong literacy programs—grounded in the Science of Reading—and reading proficiency matter:

  • Students who can not read by the end of third grade are four-times more likely to drop out of high school
  • Conversely, 89% of low-income students who achieve reading proficiency by third grade graduate from high school

National research and local data demonstrate the importance of literacy in students' educational trajectory. In Minneapolis and St. Paul, less than one-third of Indigenous, Black, and Latinx students are reading at grade level, according to MDE, and about one-fourth of low-income students are reading at grade level.

Students who do not achieve reading proficiency in elementary school fall further and further behind, as classroom instruction is anchored in literacy.

At Great MN Schools, we work alongside schools, community, and systems to improve and strengthen literacy programs.


About the Science of Reading...

All students can learn to read when they are explicitly taught with the right instructional methods that include both the skills to read words and the skills to create meaning from text.

To learn more about the Science of Reading, explore Amplify's 'Learning to Read – A Primer.'


To understand what's working and to identify literacy barriers that students, teachers, and school communities experience, we completed a literacy needs assessment in fall 2020.

Read our report, including findings and recommendations, and explore our literacy action guide.


We support a portfolio of schools to ensure they have a clear vision and approach to literacy instruction. This includes implementation of rigorous, standards-aligned literacy curriculum.

Learn more about our work alongside school communities and the strategic interventions that we provide. (Many of these strategic interventions target stronger literacy instruction, including Bellwether Education Partners, the Groves Literacy Partnership, TNTP, and ANet.)


We are finalizing the production of guides to help families understand grade-level materials for grades K-8 and for families to understand their role as partners in their children's learning. Our objective:  Make Minnesota literacy—and math—standards accessible for families so they know what their children should be learning and to get a better sense of how they're doing relative to what's expected of them.

Working alongside our community partner organizations, we also equip families with other tools and resources. This includes the Readiness Check, a gut check for K-8 families to know if their student is on grade level.


When I started teaching, I had no background in how kids learn to read. I started to learn about the research on how kids learn to read and it made sense to me. Later on, I was able to translate what I had learned to my own kindergarten classroom. By the end of the year, nearly all of my students were at or above grade level in reading. It wasn’t necessarily the specific curriculum I was using that made a difference, it was the knowledge I had about the science of reading and how I used that knowledge to guide my teaching.

- Laura Pastor, K-3 Principal, Northeast College Prep

Literacy needs assessment

We believe K-5 literacy is an important foundation for student success and a crucial component of every great school.

To better understand what was standing in the way of the needs of students, teachers, and schools, we commissioned a needs assessment focused on elementary literacy instruction in Minneapolis and St. Paul in fall 2020. In seeking to identify what's working in classrooms and to better understand academic shortcomings in literacy we were able to identify concrete recommendations to better assist the needs of students, teachers, and schools.

Sample recommendations for schools include:

  1. Literacy leadership and understanding are critical
  2. Provide teachers with additional literacy training and support
  3. Develop a strategic structure for literacy instruction that is aligned and grounded in research
  4. Improve curriculum selection, quality, and implementation
  5. Improve and/or increase interventions provided to struggling students

More resources, for educators and families

The research is clear: All students can learn to read when they are explicitly taught with the right instructional methods. What's more, advancements in cognitive science have demonstrated that our brains are not naturally wired to read. Rather, reading is a complex set of skills that must be explicitly taught.

Explore these additional resources:

  1. 'Learning to Read – A Primer,' Amplify
  2. 'The Science of Reading,' State Collaborative on Reforming Education, 2020
  3. 'How Do Kids Learn to Read? What the Science Says,' Education Week, 2019
  4. 'The four pillars of equity,' Amplify, 2019
  5. Science of Reading: The Podcast, Amplify
  6. Reading 101: A Guide for Parents, Reading Rockets