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Q. What is Success for All?

A. The SFA whole-school improvement model weaves together four essential strategies to help ensure the success of your students:


Leadership for Continuous Improvement: School leaders, teachers and other school staff collaborate to set quarterly goals, implement strategies for improvement, measure progress and celebrate success. An online management system makes relevant data accessible to all.

Schoolwide Support and Intervention Tools: To ensure that students are in school and ready to learn, we offer proven strategies focusing on attendance, parental involvement, positive school culture, family needs, health issues, and individual student support and intervention.

Powerful Instruction: All our instruction is built around a cooperative-learning framework that engages students in productive discussion and motivating challenges every day. Detailed lesson resources make planning easy and include rich media supports to develop vocabulary, background knowledge, fluency and discussion skills. Computer-assisted tutoring tools provide individualized supplementary instruction.

Professional Development and Coaching: To help implement and support SFA programs, we provide professional development and coaching to schools, enabling teachers and school leaders to make the most of our research-proven approach.

Q. How does it work?

A. For children to succeed in school, they must read on grade level by the end of grade 3 and keep building reading skills through secondary school. SFA makes reading the cornerstone of the curriculum. To facilitate this, we provide ongoing professional development and coaching support to teachers, as well as data tools that give them feedback on how students are learning and where they need additional instruction. SFA also involves families and the whole community in implementing effective instruction. We make learning fun and engaging for kids.

Q. How does SFA differ from other reading programs out there?

A. Success for All is unique in many ways. For example:

  • We use cooperative learning – students work together to develop and take responsibility for one another.
  • Technology is deeply embedded in the daily process.
  • Every minute of teaching is well planned, exciting and engaging.
  • Learning is constantly monitored, with refinements made and problems solved on the fly.
  • Teachers teach the whole child, treating social and emotional learning, behavior, and cooperation as important as academics.
  • We provide top-notch, ongoing professional development.
  • Everyone is involved in support of student success – teachers, parents, community members and the kids themselves.
  • A facilitator from the school’s own faculty works with teachers every day to help them grow professionally and work with students more effectively.
  • Every component of SFA’s programs is based on strong, proven research.

Q. How do I pay for Success for All?

A. Success for All can often be implemented using existing resources, such as:

  • Title I funds, school-improvement grants (SIG), and professional-development budgets.
  • In states with waivers, funds previously set aside for supplemental educational services (SES).

The average cost of SFA for a school $104 per child, per year — or just 60 cents a day. And costs are even lower after the first three years of implementation. Research documents that cost savings from reductions in special-education services and grade repetition more than pay for ALL the costs of Success for All within a five-year period

Q. Is SFA aligned with the Common Core State Standards?

A. Yes, All SFA instructional resources are aligned with the Common Core. Our lessons use a balance of informational and literary texts, and demand a more complex level of reading, thinking, speaking and writing. Click here to find out more.

Q. Is SFA just a reading program?

A. No. SFA is a whole-school reform strategy that engages students and transforms instruction, learning and school culture. We use reading as our cornerstone because research shows that kids not reading on grade level by the end of grade 3 are more likely to struggle in school, repeat grades, misbehave and eventually drop out. We also offer proven optional programs in math and writing.

Q. Is SFA a one-size-fits-all program?

A. Absolutely not! SFA is tailored to the needs of different learners in all kinds of schools. SFA includes proven strategies for English learners; response-to-intervention strategies, with computer-assisted tutoring, to help struggling students; and is designed to meet the different needs of urban and rural schools. It provides a solid structure for effective instruction, while allowing teachers to use their knowledge and skills to deliver a dynamic and engaging learning program.

Q. Is SFA just for low performers?

A. No. SFA supports both struggling students and high performers. The carefully designed systems that help struggling students also ensure that high-performing students are challenged and continue to grow. Research studies confirm that all levels of students in an SFA program show significantly more growth than similar students in a traditional program.

Q. Does SFA take away instructional decisions from teachers?

A. No. Teachers are fully involved in the SFA experience from the start. Their active support is essential to schools moving ahead with our programs. We give teachers a proven set of tools that make it easier for them to meet the needs of all students, and provides the structure, curriculum and coaching support that enables them to help students effectively. Teachers work collaboratively with us to set goals, monitor progress and organize resources to maximize learning for all students.

Q. Can we still use the reading texts and other materials that we purchased?

A. Absolutely! SFA helps schools develop effective standards-based instruction, using the instructional materials already adopted by the district. We provide innovative materials for kindergarten and grade 1, but then build around commercial basals and trade books for grades 2–8. SFA is aligned with prevailing state standards, including the Common Core State Standards.

Q. What basals does SFA support?

A. SFA can be used with McGraw-Hill Wonders 2014 and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys 2014. As well, schools can choose to build their reading around a list of trade book titles that includes a range of informational and narrative texts rather than a basal series.

Q. How is our elementary school supposed to fit a 90-minute reading block into the schedule?

A. Elementary schools typically spend 90 minutes or more on a range of literacy activities, including phonics, partner and individual reading, listening and writing. Our staff will sit down with you to review your current activities and address how the time can be organized to allow for implementation of the SFA reading-instruction process.

Q. Is it hard work to implement SFA?

A. Change of any kind takes work, but success makes it worthwhile. Our programs are made easier by schoolwide collaboration during the change process. We provide extensive professional development, job-embedded coaching and online resources to support administrators and teachers throughout the school year. And SFA coaches are always available via e-mail or phone to provide individual support.

Q. Is SFA just another fad?

A. No. On average, SFA schools have used our approach for more than 10 years each. SFA is proven effective by more than two decades of independent research results.

Q. SFA has been around for 30 years. Is it dated?

A. SFA has continued to grow and improve during its three decades of partnership with schools. We have recently added new data tools for tracking student progress and setting schoolwide goals for continuous improvement. We have also released a new guide for school leaders, with updated materials, including videos, for classroom use in grades K through 6. Success for All continues to be on the cutting edge of whole-school reform!