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 instruction. The program offers year-round instructional support through in-person workshops and coaching.


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 training activities, these leaders will gain expertise in Nebraska reading laws, policies, and approved practices that will enable them to train others in future years.


Reading Tutoring Program

WORDS offers reading tutoring options for children at no-cost to families in an after-school program for children with reading difficulties. Teachers are offered the opportunity to tutor these students, enabling them to implement instructional practices that they are learning from the program.  

Professional Development

The WORDS Project offers free and flexible professional development opportunities and resources that can be adapted to meet your needs.


Literacy Leaders


Professional Development Modules




The WORDS Project has used a phased approach to implementation. In the first year, one rural school district in Nebraska participated (2020-21 school year). This initial period allowed the developers to build its team of trainers and focus attention on deploying and refining the program on a small scale before expanding to a wider pool of participants.

Following the pilot year, WORDS increased its capacity to 10 schools throughout the state.  The goal is to continue to make the WORDS program available to even more 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.