How to Progress: Structure and Style for Students

Jun 20, 2024 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

Structure and Style® for Students (SSS) video-based courses build on each other. Although many begin at Level A, older students who have used other curricula may begin at Year 1 of Level B or Level C. Below are some of our most common questions regarding how one moves through the SSS courses. 

How do I determine where to start?
IEW offers two pathways: video-based SSS courses and theme-based writing lessons. If you choose to use the video-based SSS courses, you must consider the age and grade level of your student to determine where to start. It is important that you do not frustrate your student. If your student has struggled with prior writing instruction, is reading below grade level, or has learning differences, begin at a lower level. Your student will experience the greatest success if he or she is not overwhelmed by the source texts, assignments lengths, or critical thinking skills required at a higher level.

Level A material includes direct, simplistic instructions, assuming a teacher or teaching parent will work with the child to ensure understanding. 

Begin in Level A  
     Your student is in 3rd to 5th grade and is reading at or above grade level. 
     Your student is in 6th grade and has had no formal writing instruction.
     Your student is in 6th to 8th grade and is a reluctant writer.
     Your student is in 6th to 8th grade and is reading below grade level.
     Your student is in 6th to 8th grade and has learning differences.

Level B material requires greater reading comprehension, includes more detailed instruction, and involves longer writing assignments. It is not uncommon to have 8th or 9th grade students begin in Level B.

Begin in Level B
     Your student is in 6th to 8th grade and is reading at or above grade level.
     Your student is in high school and has had minimal writing instruction.
     Your student is in high school and is reading below grade level.
     Your student is in high school and has learning differences.

Level C material allows for more independent learning. This level requires advanced reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. The assignments are significantly longer than the other levels, and many assignments require students to conduct library research. Students can receive college credit through Christian Halls International for English Composition I and II from a fully accredited university when they successfully complete Structure and Style® for Students: Year 1 Level C and Fix It!™ Grammar: Level 5, 4th edition. 

Begin in Level C
     Your student is in 9th to 12th grade and reading at or above grade level.

Once you have determined the correct level of SSS, start with Year 1: SSS-1A, SSS-1B, or SSS-1C. 

Where would I go next?
Our SSS progression is as follows: 1A, 2A, 1B, 2B, 3B, 1C, and 2C. Once you complete Year 1, move to Year 2 of that same level of SSS. For a visual of this progression, you can look at our Pathway Chart. 

Can I skip ahead in the progression?
Skipping ahead is not recommended as it will cause your student to miss valuable information and flounder. In Year 2, IEW units and stylistic techniques are quickly reviewed prior to introducing new material. Year 2 instruction assumes that the student has completed Year 1 of the same level, and it is a bridge to the next level of the SSS courses. Each year within each level adheres to our philosophy of mastery education

What if my student reads above grade level?
Parents must take their student’s age and maturity into consideration. A 5th grade student may read at the high school level but is not ready to research and write a 12-paragraph super-essay with in-text citations (research paper) or a persuasive essay. A 4th grade student reading at a 7th grade level will be frustrated when the assignment requires each paragraph to have five dress-ups and four sentence openers with proper punctuation. Therefore, 4th and 5th grade students should begin with SSS-1A regardless of reading level. We must remember that we are not in a race to have our students reach the highest level as soon as possible. Allow them to relax and enjoy writing their assignments without the burden of hurried expectations. Keep in mind that many students earn college credit for completing SSS-1C. 

What if we start the progression late?
Do not worry! IEW levels are a helpful organizational tool; however, they do not account for each of the situations in which your family may find itself. Your student can start SSS-1A in 5th grade and take SSS-2A in 6th grade. He or she will still have 7th, 8th, and 9th grade to complete three years of Level B. There is plenty of time to fit in the needed courses. We do not recommend any student begin SSS-1B before 6th grade or SSS-1C prior to high school. If your student appears to be ahead of this schedule, you can always choose a Level B theme-based book or chat with one of our customer service team members, who will be happy to share additional options with you. We have several ideas for reinforcing mastery without skipping ahead to the next SSS level before your student is ready.

If your student is dealing with learning differences and needs to start at an earlier SSS level, do not despair! We encourage families to use the SSS course at the pace best suited for your student’s needs during this season of life. You can stretch a lesson over two weeks, act as your student’s reader and scribe, and please, give them as much help as they need! Andrew Pudewa’s article “Four Deadly Errors of Teaching Writing” explains the second error of withholding help, allowing you to freely nurture that love for learning within your student. Be sure to visit our landing page for learning differences, where numerous resources are linked, each dealing with a specific issue and sharing how IEW materials can help. 

What do I do with the remaining high school years?
Indeed, there are only two years of courses in SSS Level C. We recommend that your student begin with SSS-1C in 9th or 10th and then move to SSS-2C in 10th or 11th. For the remaining years, we have Level C theme-based books from which you can choose. Additionally, you can combine Windows to the World with Teaching the Classics for a full year of literary analysis. Lastly, Introduction to Public Speaking and University-Ready Writing are two one-semester video-based courses perfect for a senior year. Each November we announce upcoming new material, ready to launch. You never know what may be available by the time your student reaches high school!

by Katie Eades






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