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Ensuring Sufficient Personnel

Implementing the comprehensive Direct Instruction (DI) model effectively requires a sufficient number of teaching personnel trained in the DI methodology, and administrators who can ensure a successful implementation.  The number of teachers needed for instruction depends on the number of children that place into each level of the DI programs.  The first two levels of the Reading Mastery program require small group instruction with the following number of students per group:

Lower performers        4-6 students per group
Middle performers       8-10 students per group
High performers          10-12 students per group

These ratios ensure that teachers can hear and react to student responses. Lower-performing students require smaller student/teacher ratios because they are apt to make more errors and need additional practice in comparison to higher performing students. Similar ratios are required in the first two levels of the Corrective Reading program:

Level A                no more than 12 students per group
Level B1              15 or less is optimal, but larger groups can be accommodated

Instruction takes place in large groups (up to 35 students grouped homogeneously) once students reach the third level of Reading Mastery or Corrective Reading

A teacher and paraprofessional are needed in each room in elementary schools implementing a 90-minute reading block in the morning with three instructional groups per room. The teacher teaches reading for 30 minutes to a group while the paraprofessional teaches language to a 2nd group and a 3rd group works on their "take home" assignment independently. The groups rotate after 30 minutes. At the end of a 90-minute period, each instructional group has received a dose of reading, a dose of language and 30 minutes of independent work. The same rotation occurs in the afternoon for 20 minutes a group. Additionally, administrators need to plan for an additional 60-minute reading block for all students in Kindergarten and first grade and students in grades two and above who are below grade level expectations. If the school is also implementing Direct Instruction mathematics, staffing for a 60-minute block dedicated to math will be necessary. (See Scheduling Sufficient Instructional Time.)

Schools also need a full-time, on-site (building) coordinator in each school employed by the district to facilitate the implementation. The coordinator manages day-to-day aspects of the DI implementation, such as collecting and examining data forms submitted by teachers. In addition, the coordinator acts as the lead coach with teaching responsibilities for at least the first year. The coordinator and peer coaches receive advanced training in three stages over the course of three years.  (See the pdf Job Description for an Experienced Building Coordinator .)

Schools also benefit if they have access to substitute teachers who have been trained in the programs. Students can continue to advance in the programs if the school employs substitutes who are able to teach the specific DI programs effectively.

IMPORTANT:  When students learn something incorrectly, it takes a great deal of effort for students to re-learn the material correctly.  In many cases, students require dozens or even hundreds of correct exposures to a skill or concept if they have mislearned the skill or concept initially.  This type of re-teaching can be time consuming and difficult as students’ motivation to re-learn skills or concepts may be low.  Schools can avoid the difficulties of re-teaching by ensuring that students are placed appropriately in the DI programs and taught to mastery daily in homogenously grouped instructional groups.  Small-sized groups in the lower levels of the DI programs allow teachers to focus on student responses and correct student errors early before they can develop into misrules. Small-sized groups are possible only if schools have a sufficient number of trained teaching personnel available to teach every day.  Trained substitute teachers can continue the teaching when regular classroom teachers or paraprofessionals are absent.


See the following for more information on personnel deployment:

pdf Scheduling Guidelines  
pdf Sample Schedules: Kindergarten through 4th Grade  
pdf Job Description for an Experienced Building Coordinator  
pdf Middle School Scheduling Guidelines  
pdf Sample Middle School Schedule  

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