Adolescent Literacy Model

Addresses reading comprehensionCTL has developed and tested its Adolescent Literacy Model (ALM) over the past decade, including through a federally funded Striving Readers research project. ALM is a school-wide, comprehensive, standards-aligned professional development program for middle and high schools. It’s designed to help students achieve new and deeper learning in all subject areas as they improve their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

ALM provides training, coaching, strategies, tools and processes to address overall and specific literacy needs. The program is customized to meet the targeted needs of the school, determined in part by a self-assessment process using CTL’s ALM School Performance Guide©. It includes intensive professional development and engagement in both regular on-site and distance coaching on the part of teachers and administrators:

  • Formal professional development over a multi-year period, plus job-embedded coaching over the same period of time
  • Additional leadership training for school administrators, literacy coaches, and literacy leadership teams
  • Resources and tools for school self-assessment and to support implementation of new teaching and leadership strategies
  • Guidebooks for implementing literacy development in each content area, packed with practical classroom strategies
  • Online network of ALM schools for ongoing sustainability

ALM advances —

  • Foundational instruction in English Language Arts classes
  • Literacy development in all disciplines, leading to deeper learning and mastery in all content areas
  • Support for interventions for struggling readers
  • Integration of technology applications in the classroom
  • Development of school literacy coaches
  • Leadership development for administrators and the school literacy leadership team
  • An instructional culture of high achievement based on literacy development in all content areas

ALM can also include a segment focused specifically on Foundational Literacy, which emphasizes training for English language arts teachers in foundational literacy development, direct skills-based instruction for students in informational reading and writing, and applied connections to the Common Core State Standards.

Who benefits

Comprehensive literacy instruction in all content areasALM helps teachers and administrators to improve instruction through a focus on literacy across disciplines.

ALM also helps to create a more effective professional learning community by developing instructional leaders and a building-wide culture of collaboration.

A school that fully implements ALM helps students to deepen learning and engage with rigorous instruction across content areas.

CTL mentor coaches work closely with teachers initially, and help administrators and literacy coaches develop the capacity to assume responsibility for improved instruction. Over time, CTL staff applies a gradual release approach, supporting administrators and literacy coaches more directly as key staff assume responsibility for improved classroom practice through implementation of ALM.


CTL’s ALM has demonstrated positive impact on teacher practice, teacher and student self-efficacy, and student performance in reading in grades 6 and 9, as well as increases in student motivation and achievement in other content areas. The building-wide focus on a culture of literacy that ALM creates has been transformative for many schools.Adolescent Literacy School Performance Guide

  • Over a 5-year period as part of a federal Striving Readers research study, the implementation of ALM resulted in increased teacher self-efficacy, defined as teachers’ belief that they can improve student learning, as compared with teachers in a set of matched schools. Research on teacher efficacy establishes a strong correlation with gains in student achievement.
  • Students in Striving Readers/ ALM middle and high schools also demonstrated improved performance in both reading and writing as measured by the Kentucky Core Content Test (KCCT). ALM helped close the gap in middle grades reading performance between Striving Readers/ ALM and matched schools, and resulted in slightly higher gains for high school students.
  • ALM also helped close the gap in middle grades writing performance between Striving Readers/ ALM and matched schools, and improved writing performance in Striving Readers/ALM high schools.
  • Three middle schools implementing CTL’s ALM over a three-year period saw scores on Indiana’s Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP) increase in reading, social studies and science. Two of the three schools also saw ISTEP scores increase in mathematics.
  • A pilot study of CTL’s work in Foundational Literacy with English language arts teachers in three high-need rural Kentucky school districts as part of the federal Promise Neighborhoods planning grant revealed that CTL training deepened teachers’ understanding of literacy instruction, including the need to integrate the teaching of reading, writing, speaking and listening to boost student literacy.


GEAR UP Appalachia!
GEAR UP Promise Neighborhood
Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation, Mishawaka, Indiana
United States Department of Education Striving Readers Adolescent Literacy Project:
Kentucky Department of Education
University of Kentucky Collaborative Center for Literacy Development
University of Louisville College of Education and Human Development
Danville Independent Schools, Kentucky
Eminence Independent Schools, Kentucky
Bullitt County Schools, Kentucky
Jessamine County Schools, Kentucky
Pike County Schools, Kentucky
Rowan County Schools, Kentucky
Washington County Schools, Kentucky




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