CommonLit Schools & Districts Use CommonLit's Target Lessons To Remediate Skill Gaps After Benchmark Assessments

Target Lessons are short, skill-based lessons that will engage your students and build critical reading skills.

Our team at CommonLit is always developing exciting digital tools and resources that teachers can use to boost their students’ reading comprehension.

We’re excited to highlight Target Lessons, the newest addition to our literacy program. Target Lessons are short, engaging, and scaffolded lessons that are specially designed to build critical reading comprehension skills. What’s special about these lessons is that they focus on one key reading skill–like identifying the author’s point of view or the main idea–that will help students closely read and understand the text.

These new lessons are great for any school that is prioritizing skills-based and data-driven instruction. However, they’re particularly useful for schools or districts that are also using CommonLit’s Assessment Series.

CommonLit’s Assessment Series, which is available with the purchase of CommonLit’s School Essentials PRO package, is a series of three benchmark assessments. They can be utilized to track students’ reading comprehension and measure reading growth throughout the school year. These assessments cover a broad range of key reading comprehension skills and they come with detailed skills-based data reports.

In this blog post, we’ll share practical advice for assigning CommonLit’s Assessment Series, analyzing student data, and using Target Lessons to remediate student skill gaps.

Analyzing Data from CommonLit’s Assessment Series

Once your school has purchased the School Essentials PRO package, the Assessment Series will be unlocked for your team. The Assessment Series includes 3 benchmark assessments; each includes 25-35 questions and takes roughly 60 minutes to complete. These assessments can be completed on CommonLit’s easy-to-use digital platform.

Screenshot of Assessment Questions with CommonLit assignment

After students complete the assessments, teachers receive two data reports that will be critical as they begin to plan instructional next steps.

Student Performance Report

The first data report allows teachers to quickly see how their students are performing compared to grade-level expectations. For example, we can see in the chart below that there are six students in the class who are not yet reading on grade level. This is useful because it allows teachers to easily identify which students may need additional practice or support.

Chart showing where students are reading compared to grade level.

Overall Performance By Student: Skills-Based Analysis

Teachers can also dig more deeply into the data and explore student performance by skill. This table makes it easy to understand which skills students excelled on, as well as the skills they struggled with.

Table showing overall reading performance by student

In particular, you’ll notice that this class was strong in several areas, but quite weak at identifying the central idea or theme of a text. They also struggled to analyze how ideas were connected within a text.

Remediating these skill deficits can be extremely tricky. This is where Target Lessons become particularly helpful!

Data Driven Instruction with Target Lessons

Let’s say this 8th grade teacher wants to focus first on remediating students’ skill gaps around identifying the central ideas (and main ideas) in a text.

In the CommonLit library, this teacher could quickly set their filters to identify grade-level Target Lessons that focus on identifying main ideas.

Screenshot of the CommonLit library

Each Target Lesson includes a complete lesson plan for teachers. This includes a fully developed pre-reading activity, skill instruction, skill-aligned during reading questions, and assessment questions aligned to the target skill.

Main Ideas section of Target Lesson: How Jackie Robinson Changed Baseball.

For a more detailed look at how Target Lessons work, check out this blog post; it showcases the lesson “Main Ideas: How Jackie Robinson Changed Baseball.

In the Appendix at the end of this blog post, we’ve also linked to specific lesson recommendations based on specific skills and grade levels.

Next Steps

We’re eager to support your team!

If your district already has access to CommonLit’s Assessment Series and have questions about using CommonLit to support data driven instruction, please contact your team’s account manager.

If your team is interested in unlocking CommonLit’s Assessment Series and receiving Professional Development on best practices for using Target Lessons:

If you’d prefer to speak to a member of the CommonLit team, schedule a quick call, here.


Check out this part of the post to access specific lesson recommendations for remediating specific skills.

Finding Evidence

Students work to identify the best evidence in a text to support an author’s claim. They get multiple opportunities throughout each text to practice this skill.

Identifying Main Ideas / Central Ideas / Theme

Students identify the main ideas and central idea(s) of informational texts. For literary texts, students analyze the author’s theme(s).

Interaction of Ideas

Students analyze how ideas in a text are connected to one another. This may include analyzing cause and effect, conflict and resolution, or how the setting impacts the plot.

Analyzing the Meaning of Words and Phrases in Context

Students analyze how words and phrases are used in context. Students learn how to use context clues to support their comprehension. Students also analyze why authors choose specific language.

Analyzing Text Structure

Students analyze how an author chooses to organize a text. This may include analyzing why the author orders the text in a particular way or why they use particular plot devices like foreshadowing, flashbacks, or symbols.

Analyzing Author Point-of-View

Students analyze the author’s point of view and why they may have chosen to include specific information in the text.