Fulton County Schools in Georgia is a diverse school district serving large parts of the Atlanta area. In 2019 the district’s special education department recognized the need for improved reading instruction for their students. They sought to address all components of decoding, including phonemic awareness, word recognition, and reading accuracy, as well as a way to help develop students’ vocabulary and comprehension for oral and written language.
Fulton County selected Lindamood-Bell to provide initial and ongoing professional development in the Seeing Stars® and Visualizing and Verbalizing® (V/V®) programs. Seeing Stars addresses all components of decoding, while V/V addresses vocabulary and comprehension. The district decided to implement a phased-in model over five years, allowing the district to provide workshops and effectively support at least 100 new teachers each year.
During the second year of implementation, Fulton County began expansion into additional elementary school sites, as well as several district middle schools. Providing job-embedded professional development to middle school staff will allow upper elementary students to continue to receive process-based instruction and close the achievement gap as they move into secondary education. Teachers have been receiving the initial Level 1 workshop, and access to asynchronous review and next-step Level 2 professional development coursework to continue to grow their skills.
Crucially, Fulton County Schools recognized the need for ongoing job-embedded professional development through Lindamood-Bell consultants present in live sessions via Zoom. This level of sustained and rigorous support has been a key factor in the quality and fidelity of instruction, a model supported by best practices in teacher preparation and effectiveness.
During these live sessions, Lindamood-Bell consultants have been able to interact directly with students and teachers to model, co-teach, and provide feedback on lessons in real-time. They have also provided lesson plans and written session analyses to teachers. This has been supplemented by monthly Professional Learning Community meetings between Lindamood-Bell consultants and Fulton County staff. Building leaders have also been given opportunities to observe instruction alongside a Lindamood-Bell Project Director to help provide them with a better understanding of what instruction should look like, and how they can continue to support their teachers with implementation.
During the 2021-22 school year, Fulton County special education teachers implemented Lindamood-Bell® instruction to address the specific needs of this student population. One thousand six hundred eighty-eight(1,688) students received primarily Seeing Stars instruction to develop symbol imagery and phonemic awareness for reading. Instruction was delivered by Fulton County teachers who received professional development in the programs developed by Lindamood-Bell’s founders. Students in grades K-8 received small group instruction as close to daily as feasible for 30-45 minutes. Student gains were measured with the i-Ready Reading Diagnostic. (Note: Some small groups received Visualizing & Verbalizing instruction for language comprehension and thinking.)
On average, Fulton County Schools achieved significant improvements in overall reading placement for their LindamoodBell students. In fall i-Ready® testing, 1,382 out of 1,688 students were two or more levels below the target for their grade. In spring testing, 1,112 students were two or more levels below, a decrease of 20%. Furthermore, the number of students on or above level in overall reading scores grew from 28 in fall testing to 186 in spring testing, an increase of 664%. The results of this study illustrate that Lindamood-Bell instruction leads to improved reading, which is essential to achieving success with school curricula.
PROFILE: Special Education Students – End-of-Year Results
Number of Students: 1,688
Grade Levels: Kindergarten-8th Grade
Lindamood-Bell Programs Implemented: Seeing Stars®
• i-Ready® Reading Diagnostic
The district and Lindamood-Bell are continuing their five-year partnership in 2023-24. Teacher workshops and ongoing professional development will be provided for Fulton County staff.
Contact us to learn more about how Lindamood-Bell can make a difference for your students.