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National Reading Month Success Series: Middle School Struggling Readers Average Two Years’ Grade Level Growth in One Semester

Michael Vergara Published: March 7, 2018

Special Education and struggling readers make dramatic reading gains with MindPlay literacy online program

March 7, 2018, Tucson, AZ—MindPlay online reading and literacy publisher announces dramatic gains for struggling students at the grade six-through-eight Lou Mendive Middle School in Reno, Nevada. In August, the average reading level for most Mendive English language learners was third to fourth grade, with the average for Special Education students second to third grade. By the end of just one semester, all the students were at grade level.

“This is the first time I have had 10 students attain grade level reading proficiency and be able to exit entirely out of our reading intervention program,” says Richard Wiley, EL and Tier III Reading Interventionist. Reading comprehension tended to be learners’ lowest feature, he says, with vocabulary, phonics and fluency slightly higher.

Overall, 40 percent of the students using MindPlay for one semester saw two to three grade levels of reading growth, with 64 percent improving at least one grade level in comprehension.

Why MindPlay?
Mendive chose MindPlay last year after a preview with a selected group of Special Education, dyslexic, EL, and Tier III reading intervention students. The school found that MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach (MVRC) addressed their targeted students’ core reading problems. Very few interventions they had previously tried made a significant difference for students far below grade level. Says Wiley, “MindPlay reaches these very low readers and students two or three levels below grade level very well.”

Expanding the Intervention
This year the school expanded the program to 60 seventh and eighth grade Special Education and EL students, with 100 minutes of instructional class time in a given week. “All of these students have demonstrated incredible reading gains in a single semester, with an average of 20 usage hours on MindPlay,” says Wiley.

Praise for MindPlay:
Says Wiley, “MindPlay teaches basic Tier III reading skills better than I could in my classroom because it is naturally differentiated already. It is like having an individual teacher’s aide for every student in the room. This allows me to more carefully monitor each student’s progress in order to build upon strengths and work on weaknesses in an individualized way.”

The program is engaging and fun without being “childish” for middle school students, says Wiley. The user interface is integrative, interactive and colorful, not just another “boring” reading passage on a computer.

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