Structured Literacy

Structured Literacy is an evidence-based instructional approach that fosters strong reading and writing instruction for all students. It is comprehensive, addressing listening, speaking, reading and writing. Structured literacy is necessary for individuals with dyslexia, but it is beneficial for all learners.  Structured literacy is characterized by what content is taught, as well as how content is taught:

What Content is Taught


The study of the sound structure of spoken words is a key element. Phonemic awareness, including blending and segmenting sounds, is central to phonology.

Sound-Symbol Association

As students develop phonemic awareness, they learn the alphabetic principle - that sounds are represented by letters or combination of letters, and vice versa.


A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in a language. Studying bases, prefixes and suffixes helps readers decode, spell, and unlock the meaning of complex words.


Syntax is the set of principles that dictate the sequence and function of words in a sentence, and includes grammar, sentence structure, and the mechanics of language.


Semantics is focused on meaning, which has applications for both reading comprehension and writing, at the word, sentence, paragraph, and text levels. 

How Content is Taught

Systematic & Cumulative

Systematic means that organization of material follows the logical order of language. The sequence begins with the easiest and most basic concepts and elements, and progresses methodically to the more difficult. Cumulative means each step is based on concepts previously learned.


Structured literacy requires direct teaching of concepts with continuous student-teacher interaction, not assuming that students infer concepts. Explicit instruction also involves carefully considered practice, as well as prompt, specific feedback.


Instruction should be individualized, based on careful and continuous assessment, both informal (e.g. observation) and formal (e.g. standardized measures). Content should be mastered to the degree of automaticity needed to free cognitive resources for higher order processes.