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National Reading Month Success Series: At-Risk Third Graders Attain Reading Proficiency in Five Months

Michael Vergara Published: March 23, 2018

Struggling ESL, ELL and learning-disabled students make dramatic gains in five months.

March 23, 2018, Tucson, AZ—MindPlay online reading and literacy publisher announces  rapid reading gains for third grade at-risk students in the Manor (TX) Independent School District. With more than 50 percent of her ESL, ELL and other struggling readers testing two or more grade levels short of proficiency, reading teacher Misty Simpson looked to district leadership for guidance and support in bringing her high minority and economically challenged student population up to grade level.

In the fall of 2016 Simpson’s third graders’ overall reading scores showed 54 percent two or more grade levels below proficiency, 37 percent one or more grade levels below proficiency and five percent at or above grade level proficiency. Under the direction of new Manor superintendent, Dr. Royce Avery, Simpson implemented the online MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach with her 51 third graders.

After using the program for just five months, Simpson saw major reading proficiency gains in her students. The percentage of most critical, which were two or more years below grade level, was reduced from 54 to just 23 percent. Those testing at one or more grade levels short of proficiency decreased from 37 to 21 percent, and those reading at or above grade level dramatically increased from five to 37 percent.  “When I look at the growth these kids have made, it’s amazing,” she says.

“What’s powerful is that students can see and hear word pronunciations  from an actual reading coach,” says Simpson. “This makes MindPlay so much more motivating than other reading programs I’ve used.”

In addition to the motivating virtual reading coach, Simpson says the ability to see and take pride in their progress, earn success medals, and work with the program on an iPad  have also made kids enthusiastic about MindPlay. And for teachers, the comprehensive data reports have helped them monitor individual student growth and activity, not simply time spent on the program, as many other reading programs do.

Over the school year, Simpson’s classroom has evolved into a more participatory culture. Students interact more with peers, contribute to class discussions and are more willing to read with her than previously. One quiet and shy ESL student who began the year at the most critical reading level was elated when he’d learned he’d “graduated” to grade-level competency. “His eyes lit up when I told him, and the family reports he is now excited about school,” says Simpson.

About MindPlay

More than 30 years ago, founder Judith Bliss started the MindPlay Company to create a solution to the challenges of learning to read.  Her goal was to help struggling learners succeed in school and life, after overcoming her own reading disabilities. MindPlay’s mission is to develop, publish, and distribute cost-effective learning tools that support individual growth and skill development. The curriculum includes clear objectives, inviting graphics and technological innovations. MindPlay educational software programs appeal to multiple learning styles, identify individual student needs, and differentiate instruction.

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