Needs Assessment

Partnerships for Literacy and Learning provides a variety of school consulting processes. 

PLL Needs Assessment Process

Needs assessments are an important tool that provides data on the school’s current situation in order to make decisions that will lead to creating the desired conditions.

The PLL Needs Assessment process is a mixed methodology of collecting quantitative and qualitative data.  What makes the approach unique is the lenses which we use to analyze the data.  Our theoretical foundation is built on successful schools research, the principles and components of the VTmtss Field Guide, and on evidence based best practices in literacy instruction.  Through surveys, interviews, observations, student data, and document reviews, we dive into the story of each school by looking at:

  • What systems and structures are in place to support high quality instruction and learning

  • What opportunities do students have to read, write, speak, and listen for authentic purposes

  • What teachers know and do to provide responsive literacy instruction for all students

  • How does the community, within and beyond the building, engage with each other in relevant, meaningful, growth oriented ways

  • How the data is used to ensure that decisions that are made at all levels support student achievement and their development as literate, critical thinkers

Once this data is collected and analyzed, we provide a synthesis of the data back to your school team.  This synthesis illuminates the strengths and limitations in each of the areas listed above.  PLL also provides considerations–things to think about when making decisions about next steps. 

It is important to know that PLL does not provide this information to “fix” a school, nor is the needs assessment an evaluation of teachers, programs, or materials.  It’s simply a way to look at all aspects of the literacy program to make informed decisions to support teachers and students’ achievement in the classroom and school.

If your school or district is interested in digging deep and getting a comprehensive understanding of the strengths and opportunities of literacy learning and instruction, PLL can help.  The average timeline for a literacy needs assessment, depending upon the size of the school, is 2-3 months. Contact Mary Grace at to begin the conversation.

Commercial Program Evaluation Process

Deciding on a commercial program to support literacy instruction is a critical task.  Depending on what is already in place in your school, these programs can be supplemental supports to instruction, can provide a framework or scope and sequence for instruction, or sometimes even be seen as an agreed upon curriculum.  And, we know that the investment in a program is significant, especially when one program cannot possibly do it all.

PLL has been asked a number of times to help our partner schools with the selection of materials.  While we don’t promote or encourage one program over another, we know that the discussion around what programs would be the best fit is rich with opportunities.  It deepens and builds a shared understanding of what the school believes about best practices for literacy instruction, what they believe their students should be learning, and how to use materials to meet the needs of all of their students. To that end, we have developed a facilitated evaluation process that engages teachers and administrators in those conversations. We work with schools to look at these key elements of the various programs under consideration:

  • Evidenced based research for the approach

  • The alignment to CCSS

  • What the instruction looks like

  • What types and the quality of texts are being utilized

  • What do the assessments look like and what do they tell us

  • How usable are the materials 

In addition to reviewing programs for those elements, we also discuss how the materials enhance or encourage what we know to be effective instructional practices.  For instance, does the program provide opportunities for independent reading or for writing about reading?  

Using carefully developed rubrics, PLL consultants can facilitate this evaluation process to ensure that the selection process is thorough, identifies gaps and overlaps with existing materials and approaches, and builds the expertise of the teachers around the critical elements of literacy instruction. For more information, please contact Mary Grace at