About the WORDS Project

The WORDS Project (Workshops on Reading Development Strategies) is a research-driven professional development program designed to support the state of Nebraska’s efforts to improve early literacy skills among K-3 students.

With the launch of the 2018 Nebraska Reading Improvement Act, and its NebraskaREADS initiative, many districts and schools have expressed the need for training to implement and interpret the reading assessments and instruction required by law.

The WORDS Project addresses this need by providing effective, practice-based support and professional development to build capacity and prepare K-3 teachers to deliver high-quality reading instruction and assessment in schools across the state.

How it Works

The WORDS Project has four integrated components that align with the NebraskaREADS initiative:


Teacher Professional Development Opportunities

WORDS provides teachers with flexible and ongoing professional development opportunities to help them confidently deliver effective reading intervention. The program offers year-round instructional support through in-person workshops, online learning modules and other resources.


Assessment Training & Support for Schools

WORDS provides professional development and training on how to administer, analyze and interpret reading assessment data, and to reliably identify students who need extra reading support. Training includes practice activities and examples for scoring and interpretation of NDE-approved assessments.


Reading Leadership Training

WORDS builds capacity among local leadership to implement the professional development in schools and districts statewide. Through internships and training activities, a group of professionals will gain expertise in Nebraska reading laws, policies and approved practices that will enable them to train others in future years.


Reading Tutoring Program with Web-based Support

WORDS offers high-quality reading tutoring options for children at no-cost to families. Web-based support includes tutoring for children with reading difficulties in after-school and summer programs, and additional opportunities for teachers to implement instructional practices they are learning from the program. Tutoring will be piloted in Lincoln area schools in coordination with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Kit and Dick Schmoker Reading Center.

Tailored Professional Development

The WORDS Project offers a flexible package of professional development opportunities to participating schools and districts that can be tailored to meet your needs. These opportunities include in-person workshops, online learning modules and other resources.

In-Person Workshop

In-Person Workshop

Attend an introductory summer workshop to learn the fundamentals of reading development and assessment, followed by additional in-person support workshops scheduled at strategic points throughout the school year.

Online Learning Modules

Explore a series of online learning modules covering various topics, such as phonological awareness instruction, teaching letters and letter sounds, decoding practices and more.

Downloadable Resources

Download various professional development resources, including PowerPoint presentations, trainer guides, instructional guides and other materials needed for activities and implementation.


The WORDS Project is using a phased implementation approach. One rural school district in Nebraska is participating during the pilot year (2020-21). The developers are using this initial period to build a team of trainers and focus on deploying and refining the program before expanding to more participants.

Following the pilot, the goal is to make WORDS available to schools and districts statewide.

Participants will gain expertise in:

  • Choosing, administering and interpreting assessments.
  • Identifying students who may need additional reading support.
  • Identifying high-quality instructional literacy practices to meet the needs of students.
  • Implementing high-quality instructional practices and materials with fidelity.
  • Monitoring student progress.
  • Evaluating whether the individualized reading plans are working effectively.