Case Studies
January 31, 2024

A Simple Start to Stronger Literacy

How one of the 30 largest districts in the nation combined common formative assessment and community-building to raise reading achievement

For school administrators desperate to solve the ever-present problem of low literacy scores, your holy grail solution is here. And it’s more simple than you’d think.

Throw away the workbooks. Cancel the new curriculum. Stop doing drill reviews.

The secret ingredient to start improving literacy in your district is…teamwork.

No, we’re not pulling your leg. But yes, it’s more involved than high fives and trust falls.

Just ask leaders at Pinellas County Schools (PCS), one of the 30 largest districts in the nation. 

With 86,000 students, 6,000 teachers, and 88 K-12 schools, here’s how the Florida district unified to achieve the ultimate goal of leveling up literacy.

Strong Leaders & Smart Solutions: The origin of a district-wide literacy initiative

In a country where every single state has more than 50 percent of students reading below proficiency, U.S. educators have their work cut out for them.

Similar to the approach detailed in, “How School Principals Can Foster Effective Literacy Instruction: A Ten-Step Plan,” PCS created a reading improvement committee.

To roll out Superintendent Kevin Hendrick’s vision for a districtwide literacy initiative, the group brainstormed ideas supporting student engagement, teacher collaboration, tons of text exposure, and a healthy dose of competition.

PCS needed a platform capable of onboarding thousands of people, aggregating data, and offering a rigorous learning experience that makes reading fun for every student.

Learn more about the Quizizz Comprehension question type

We’ll give you one guess who they chose.

“Quizizz can definitely be used to promote literacy,” said Sarah Truelson, PCS Digital Learning Program Coordinator. “And I will say, the Comprehension question was a game-changer for this.”

The Road to Progress: Putting the plan in motion

Like other school districts on a journey to stronger literacy, PCS wasn’t looking for a one-and-done solution. 

The committee crafted a three-part common assessment competition to take place in the fall, winter, and spring. From there, next steps included 

  • Collaboration: PCS’s elementary, middle, and high school Reading Specialists selected standards-aligned texts and wrote questions to create one ELA Quiz for each grade 3-10.
  • Troubleshooting: The PCS Digital Learning Team imported the content into Quizizz and eliminated any bugs.
  • Communication & Completion: PCS elementary, middle, and high school Executive Directors emailed to explain the plan and provide instructions for teachers and students on how to log in to Quizizz with the Clever icon and their Microsoft account. For flexibility, activities are open for a full week during school hours. 

“It really wasn’t overly complex,” Truelson explained. “Just click on the button and participate!”

And wow, nearly 30,000 students did!

Along with celebrations, recognition, and of course, bragging rights, PCS gives schools with the best participation financial rewards to spend on pupil resources—a perk that motivates both staff and students alike. 

From Big Buy-In to Big Results: Banking on high engagement for even higher scores

Though the core goal is to increase reading abilities, PCS administrators will ultimately measure success of the Level Up Literacy Challenge by the authentic investments K-12 students develop in reading over time.

With illiteracy linked to dropout rates, poverty, crime, and more, school leaders must find ways to create a community of readers and help students foster a genuine love of learning.

“This experience is building culture and camaraderie across our district,” Truelson explained. “It’s creating a ‘we’re in this together’ mentality.”

Despite the challenges of large enrollment or even the deeper causes of the country’s literacy crisis, PCS launched a simple idea to excite and engage students about reading.

If teamwork really makes the dream work, this seems like a fine place to start.

Following the first Level Up Literacy Challenge in November, PCS teachers continued to use Quizizz to deliver instruction that’s relevant for every student, now with a boost from AI. PCS has two more literacy competitions left in the series this school year.

Looking to level up literacy in your own district? Let's connect!
This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.
The best way to ask questions, explore ideas, and let students show what they know.

Start motivating students.In minutes.