National Reading Month Success Series: District Sees Growth of Three-Plus Grade Levels in Reading for More Than 100 Students During 12 Week Pilot

EL, struggling and non-struggling students all showed dramatic gains with personalized diagnoses and instructional pathways.

March 15, 2018, Tucson, AZ—MindPlay online reading and literacy publisher announces dramatic district-wide gains for EL, struggling and grade-level readers at Indiana’s South Bend Community School Corporation. A large urban, diverse, high-poverty district of 18,000 students, South Bend serves a student population representing more than 90 languages.

In the fall of 2017, new Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Kay Antonelli, identified three student populations with which to pilot the MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach: non-proficient EL students in grades one through eight; nine district middle schools; and an elementary school that had received a failing grade from the state for the sixth year in a row. In all, the district contracted for 5,000 student licenses.

Evidence of Effectiveness

By December 2017, after the 12-week pilot, results showed 107 students had gained three or more grade levels in reading, 438 students had gained two or more grade levels, and 1,225 had gained one grade level. The remaining learners achieved .75 grade levels in reading.

Greatest Gains for EL Students

The greatest gains were for the EL student population, with 86 percent meeting or exceeding their projected growth according to the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) fall test. The average reading level gain for EL students across all grade levels was 1.87.
Other targeted student populations also showed impressive growth, with 66 percent of elementary students and 64 percent of middle school students meeting or exceeding their NWEA projected growth.

Gains for Non-Struggling Students

MindPlay’s Universal Screener also detected areas for reading improvement in students who were not struggling and may have not known their reading levels could be improved. In first through eighth grade, 906 students are now reading above grade level, with some of those students having been on MVRC for only the four to six weeks of the 2018 semester.

Ease of Implementation

“There was nothing I could do to sell the program until teachers saw student results,” says Antonelli. “But as soon as the test results started coming in, teachers contacted us nearly every day requesting that additional students be added to the MVRC program.” Next year the district plans to increase the number of students having access to the MVRC program by implementing it in grades one through 10. The district will also increase its literacy block periods from 90 to 120 minutes daily. South Bend’s 2018 summer school will also include MVRC to help students achieve reading proficiency in grades 1-10.