Symonds, K. W. (n.d.) Literacy coaching: How school districts can support a long-term strategy in a short-term world. Bay Area School Reform Collaborative. Retrieved from

Author: Kiley Walsh Symonds



The Bay Area School Reform Collaborative (BASRC) is a non-profit organization that provides grants and professional development support to school and districts in the Bay Area. The BASRC is now known as Springboard Schools (Website: This report describes the use of literacy coaches in three Bay Area districts. The report builds on the premise that improving teacher quality increases student achievement. It is highly detailed with specific examples of how the three Bay Area districts, representing varied student demographics and grade levels implemented and currently fund literacy coaching. The report asserts that school-based literacy coaches provides a more collaborative culture, stronger implementation of new instructional strategies, and better differentiated instruction for at-risk students. Teachers become more receptive to change, and literacy coaching also builds leadership capacity within the district. This report provides recommendations for district implementation and state support. It also acknowledges that literacy coaching cannot stand alone, but must be supported by a collaborative school culture where teachers work together to identify students’ needs and take risks by implementing new instructional strategies in the classroom. It also identifies the need for teachers to see an achievement gap as something movable rather than stagnant and that teachers have the greatest power to change student achievement more than any external force a student may struggle against.

This report provides thoughtful and legitimate support for why coaching is beneficial and why an emphasis on literacy work is essential to increasing student achievement. One interesting aspect that this report addresses is the need for literacy coaches at the secondary level: Secondary teachers are not trained to explicitly teach reading comprehension strategies. With many districts concerned about funding, the report addresses this concern and provides ideas for funding literacy coaching positions within schools. This BASRC report is descriptive and not evaluative. The study consisted of "interviews and/or focus groups with teachers, literacy coaches, principals and district administrators, and observations of coaches' meetings, coaching session and coached teachers" classes." Data was collected during 2001-2002. For each of the three participating districts, this report identifies how literacy coaching began in each district, the background and selection of literacy coaches, their support and training, the coordination between the district and school, collective bargaining support, literacy coaches’ accountability, and funding. The report also identifies the varying roles of literacy coaches within each district. Overall, the report is open about its lack of quantitative data. For what it lacks in numbers, it provides an excellent look at the nuances, structure, and possible options for funding literacy coaching with a k-12 perspective.

Date Added: 05/06/2009


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