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Looking to the Future with Fundations® Ready to Rise®

Absenteeism, “summer slide,” reading difficulties, and pandemic-related learning gaps can leave young students unprepared for the new school year. As a result, Fundations® teachers face the challenge of ensuring their students’ literacy skills are on the same page for effective learning. With Fundations Ready to Rise®, these educators have the support they need for this undertaking.

“We developed the Ready to Rise program to help teachers instruct their rising first and second graders with a laser focus so their students can master key foundational skills in preparation for their upcoming year,” said Author and Wilson Co-Founder, Barbara A. Wilson. 

A 20-day, in-person foundational skills program, Ready to Rise is designed to bridge learning gaps for children who need summer reading support or an intensive boost in the fall. The goal is to look forward and identify key skills needed for success in the next grade level—not to cover all past content. This emphasis on the future, combined with Fundations’ scaffolded instruction and built-in review, readies students for the academic year ahead. 

Ready to Rise is available in two levels. Students currently in kindergarten who will be in first grade during the upcoming school year may participate in the Ready to Rise program for rising first graders. The Ready to Rise program for rising second graders is geared toward students now in first grade who will be advancing to second grade this fall. Both target key decoding, transcription, and fluency skills to prepare students, including English learners (ELs) and struggling readers, for the next Level of Fundations.

The Ready to Rise approach to instruction aligns with that advocated by both Barbara Wilson and Dr. David Steiner, executive director of the John Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and professor of education at John Hopkins University. Together, they published practical guidance on the topic of accelerated learning in their 2021 article, Steiner & Wilson: Case Study — Some Tough Questions, and Some Answers, About Fighting COVID Slide While Accelerating Student Learning. Their findings echo and expand upon those in the webinar, Addressing Learning Loss through Acceleration: A Conversation with David Steiner, which recommends  that teachers of summer programs:  

  • identify what should be learned at a given level to prepare for the next level;
  • avoid including everything that should have been learned in the past; 
  • stress the most important skills and knowledge for a specific topic; 
  • concentrate on the minimum skills and knowledge required to adequately access the next grade level’s materials; 
  • implement structured programming so students succeed with current grade-level content; 
  • ready students for new learning in the next grade; 
  • address past concepts and content in context of students’ current learning; and 
  • engage students in learning forward, not looking backward.

To accomplish these tasks, both Barbara and Dr. Steiner suggest:

  • identifying a small number of key skills and core knowledge essential for the next school year’s success; 
  • focusing on the mastery of those key skills; and  
  • assessing students to determine progress toward that mastery.

Through purposefully selected and structured content, Ready to Rise helps teachers organize for and accomplish the accelerated learning described above. The program uses a 90-minute lesson format divided into three 30-minute components: 

  • Word Study: targets phonemic awareness, the alphabetic principle, sound and word accuracy/automaticity, and high frequency word recognition
  • Transcription Skills: addresses letter formation/automaticity, spelling, and sentence dictation/punctuation
  • Application & Fluency Skills: focuses on the application of decoding and encoding skills and provides fluency instruction with connected text

One teacher may teach all three components, or students can move sequentially to “stations” with a different instructor for each component of the curriculum.  

If Fundations materials are already on hand, only the Fundations Ready to Rise Teacher Guide and Student Practice booklet for the selected level need to be purchased. Please see our website for a complete list of the minimum teacher and student materials needed to implement the program.

A key feature of Ready to Rise is its built-in assessments which support progress monitoring. To identify students who may benefit from the program, it’s recommended that teachers administer the pretest. There’s also a mid-program assessment that helps teachers determine how students are doing after the first unit of instruction. At the end of the second unit—after the 20 days are completed—there’s a posttest, which although optional, is highly recommended so that students’ mastery level is available for teachers to reference as they go into the school year.

Teachers can support their instruction through Wilson’s virtual, three-hour Fundations Ready to Rise Program Workshop. The workshop reviews the program schedule and activities and provides an overview of the day-by-day Teacher Guide, which contains detailed instructions for delivering the program successfully. Individuals with experience teaching Fundations and have attended a Fundations Introductory or Launch Workshop will be familiar with the concepts presented in Ready to Rise. However, the Fundations Ready to Rise Program Workshop will provide additional support regarding some of the unique aspects of the program (i.e., activities and learning plan). Teachers new to Fundations will benefit from the workshop and at its completion, feel fully prepared to implement the curriculum. Together, the Ready to Rise Program Workshop, the helpful Teacher Guide, and Fundations Learning Community webinars and demonstration videos will support new and veteran Fundations educators and tutors.

Visit the Ready to Rise page of our website or the Wilson Store to learn more. 


National Association of State Boards of Education. (2021, February 11). Addressing learning loss through acceleration: A conversation with David Steiner. NASBE. https://www.nasbe.org/event/addressing-learning-loss-through-acceleration-a-conversation-with-david-steiner/

Steiner, D., & Wilson, B. (2021, July 7). Steiner & Wilson: Case study—some tough questions, and some answers, about fighting COVID slide while accelerating student learning. The74https://www.the74million.org/article/steiner-wilson-case-study-some-tough-questions-and-some-answers-about-fighting-covid-slide-while-accelerating-student-learning/