6th Largest School District in Pennsylvania Makes Stunning Strides in Reading


Bethlehem Area School District (BASD), covering 13,000 students in Pennsylvania, needed help improving literacy skills and closing the achievement gaps for its at-risk student population.

Using evidence-based methodology, the team at Step By Step Learning® (SBSL), an MGT company, partnered with leaders to implement programs designed to improve teacher effectiveness and student performance for at-risk children. Our team began its work at Lincoln Elementary, a Title 1 Focus School, where they collected and analyzed student data to identify students at risk for reading failure. We then provided teachers instruction on how to use the science of teaching reading techniques to promote more active student learning for these students.

The results were impressive, with 90% of Lincoln kindergarten students meeting the end-of-year benchmark goals, up from 54% in years prior.

Bethlehem Area Kindergarten 16 Elementary Schools increased from 47% reading proficiency to 88% in 2 years.

BASD Administrators were so encouraged with the results that they subsequently asked SBSL to return the following year to work with all 16 district elementary schools. We also launched a systems and processes audit (Gap Analysis) and focused on building a collaborative culture to help shape the future state of the district. In just two years, BASD’s kindergarten benchmarks increased from 47% to 88%. Thanks to the comprehensive MTSS process implemented by SBSL, BASD soared to an unprecedented level of achievement, with student success at the helm.

To hear more about the impact of this project, you can listen to BASD’s feature on NPR from the APM Reports “Hard Words” podcast with Emily Hanford.

Image from the APR Hard Words Podcast featuring a child at a desk with letters coming from the book.



SBSL/MGT works with K-3rd grade teachers to increase their knowledge and understanding of the science of reading. Teachers also benefit from customized lesson plans and classroom engagement techniques, as well as frequent in-person, side-by-side follow-up support, including:

  • Modeling and coaching
  • The Science of Reading, Writing, Spelling, Vocabulary, and Comprehension Training
  • Connecting to the Classroom® sessions
  • Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) protocols.
  • Consultative Implementation Support

With nearly 20 years of in-classroom experience with teachers, our company is recognized as the preeminent educational and literacy organization in the nation, helping districts achieve positive and sustainable results to benefit every child.

If you are ready to implement a comprehensive MTSS process that significantly raises achievement for ALL students, contact the Step By Step Learning® team at info@sbsl.org or 610-398-1231.

Publish Date

Posted on August 30, 2023

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