Fostering literacy is at the heart of the America's Choice Comprehensive School Reform Design. Strong reading and writing skills are viewed as cornerstones of successful student performance in all subject areas. The readers and writers workshops, which together we call the literacy workshops, play a central role in moving all children toward high standards of performance. The workshops are designed to provide students with a rich immersion into the numerous skills and habits necessary to become fluent readers and writers. The structures of the literacy workshops are intended to facilitate teachers' analyses of student skills (as represented by their work) in relation to external standards for performance and to help them to provide students with repeated opportunities to develop the skills necessary to produce work that meets the standards. To effectively teach using the workshop structures requires teachers to adopt a series of specified classroom structures and pedagogical strategies.
This report examines the implementation of the literacy workshops in America's Choice classrooms across the United States. The results are based upon data collected from observations and interviews with a random sample of 42 elementary and middle school teachers in 23 America's Choice schools during the 2000-2001 school year. At the time of our fieldwork, the schools were either at the end of their first or second year implementing America's Choice. Our analyses focus on two areas: teachers' fidelity to the structures of the literacy workshops and their depth of understanding of the instructional philosophy and techniques upon which the workshops are based.