We Get Results That Last

Since our founding in 2001, we have helped all types of schools – rural, suburban, and inner-city – build sustainable literacy excellence, demonstrating that the goal of teaching all children to read by the end of third grade is obtainable.

Intensive Application of the HILL Solution

The Summer Institute for Literacy Leadership (SILL) is an initiative that integrated coursework and practicum experiences designed to support the development of structured literacy practices that are critical for addressing weaknesses in reading. Presented in partnership by HILL for Literacy, Crafting Minds, and The Grimes Reading Institute, SILL was sponsored by the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and hosted by the Somerville Public School District during Summer 2019.

The institute focused on three critical areas:

  1. Building teacher background knowledge in the science of reading
  2. Coaching educators as they plan and deliver Tier 2 Structured Literacy routines
  3. Supporting teachers’ ability to create learning environments that foster intrinsic motivation.

Normally this work would be delivered throughout the school year, but for SILL it was adapted to a condensed, intensive setting that trained 20 teachers across four districts over a 4-week period. With coaching from our institute staff, they taught 33 students (83% English Language Learners, on an IEP, or both) in grades 1-5 which resulted in impressive gains across all measures of phonemic awareness, decoding, and oral reading fluency.

“A student was going to be in the 6th grade in the fall…he said, ‘I’ve been trying to learn to read for two years, and I can’t.’ Watching him use these strategies to not just decode but to read with some fluency was extraordinarily powerful.”
Michael Arlington, M.Ed.

Special Educator

Closing the Achievement Gap in Connecticut

One of our largest recent projects is the Connecticut K-3 Literacy Initiative, a statewide partnership along with Literacy HowCBER, and the CT State Department of Education. In the recent Nation’s Report Card on NEAP results, Connecticut ranked as having one of the largest education achievement gaps in the country. This gap represents a disparity in the reading and mathematics skill levels of low-income and minority students with their peers. Funded through legislation developed by the General Assembly’s Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, the Connecticut K-3 Literacy Initiative (CK3LI) was created to train teachers and administrators in the best research-based literacy practices and to address the state’s achievement gap from the earliest grades.


“We’ve seen over the course of 4 years that percentages of students who are reading at grade level are more than doubled. We’ve also seen that the percentage of students that are performing significantly below grade level has been more than halved.”

Michael Coyne, Ph.D.
Professor of Educational Psychology
Neag School of Education
University of Connecticut

(Coyne, et. al, 2016)

Client Snapshots

(click to enlarge any graph)


We’ve worked for several years with a large urban district with 12 elementary schools on a district-wide leadership model for tiered instruction, professional knowledge, and assessment. Approximately 50% of their elementary student population is on free/reduced lunch. This graph indicates the increase in student preparedness as they enter Grade 1 between the first year of the initiative to the latest after we worked closely with the teachers to improve the effectiveness of kindergarten instruction.


DIBELS: Phoneme Segmentation Fluency


The HILL worked closely with this suburban district and their 5 elementary schools on building intervention approaches for Tiers 2 and 3 during the 2017-18 school year. As a result, they saw a significant increase in students hitting accuracy benchmarks from fall to spring. In particular, the at-risk status in Accuracy was dramatically reduced over the course of the year from grades 2-5 where accuracy is a prerequisite for reading comprehension. If a child isn’t reading accurately, they’re not understanding what they’re reading, but we were able to move the needle for these students.


DIBELS: Oral Reading Fluency – Accuracy

increased effectiveness of instruction

Our initiative with this elementary school in a large suburb with 35% of their students on free/reduced lunch began in Fall 2015 to implement research-based programs within a multi-tiered system of support with a focus on grades K-2. We also helped their staff create a common language based on current reading research and evidence-based practices and collaborated with school leaders to establish a process for using assessment data to make instructional decisions. The results were a substantial improvement in the effectiveness of teacher instruction after the first full year of the initiative.


DIBELS: Nonsense Word Fluency-Whole Words Read

First year accuracy v. mOst recent

In the same suburban elementary school as the graph to the left, we also saw a significant increase in students hitting accuracy benchmarks by the spring from the first year of the initiative to the most recent (school year 2017-18). In Spring 2016, only 39% of second graders were scoring at or above on accuracy, but by Spring 2018 that number more than doubled to 84%, reducing the at-risk population to only 16%. Accuracy is critical to reading comprehension and our work helped students dramatically improve in that area.


DIBELS: Oral Reading Fluency – Accuracy

Accuracy improvement in Grades 4 & 5

In school year 17-18, the HILL launched an initiative with this small town elementary school with approximately 60% of their students on free/reduced lunch to implement leadership routines and systems necessary to institute evidence-based literacy practices within a tiered instructional model and build capacity to ensure sustainability. We also worked with them to more effectively utilize curricula at all grade levels and established a framework and process for using assessment data to make instructional decisions. The results show a significant increase in students’ accuracy levels in Grades 4 and 5—where it is much more difficult to move the needle—by the end of the year.



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