Program Expectations

The Once Curriculum consists of 200 cycles, or spiraling lessons, each of which is made up of fewer than ten tasks. You can preview the Once cycles by clicking “Instruction” at the top of the Once website (

All students start the Once curriculum at the beginning, or Cycle 0, regardless of their grade or prior knowledge. The program is designed to proceed at each student’s pace. Students with a strong foundation in early literacy skills will accelerate through the content quickly until they reach consistently new and more challenging content.

For reference:

  • Students who reach Cycle 84 will be reading on a first-grade level.

  • Students who reach Cycle 166 will be reading on a second-grade level.

Students will progress through the curriculum at different paces and will therefore end the year at different cycles. There are 180 days in most school calendars. A committed, consistent implementation of Once will be able to deliver sessions to students on about 80% of those days due to student and instructor absences and planned deviations from the normal schedule (like field trips and assemblies).

Because Once coaches ensure that instructors only move students forward in the curriculum when students have mastered the skill they are working on, Once is confident that students working on a given cycle have mastered material up through that cycle rather than simply being exposed to it.

A student who receives 80% of scheduled sessions and covers one Cycle (lesson) each session could reach Cycle 140. Each child, however, will move through Once at a different pace depending on how many sessions they receive and how many Cycles they cover in each session.

Comparing Once's Cycle 140 to End-of-First-Grade Assessments

Sample reading passage:

Alice swam near another big rock. Then, when she was convinced that the star did not expect her, she pounced. "I got you!" she shouted, but she had to shade her face, because this was the brightest star yet.

  • Avg. words per sentence: 9.75

  • VCe: shade

  • Non-phonetic words: another, she, was, the, I, you, to

  • Vocabulary: convinced, pounced

  • Longest Word: 9 letters; 3 syllables

  • Syntax: simple, complex, compound-complex

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