<< Resources Elementary Learners (K-5) ELL Middle School Learners (6-8) Special Education Testimonials

Ohio Middle and Elementary Students See Up to Four Times Greater Reading Growth with MindPlay

Michael Vergara Published: November 8, 2018

Reading Challenge: An Ohio district is faced with 129 identified middle and elementary school struggling readers.

District Profile: 1100 students; Grades K-12; 40% Free/Reduced Lunch

The Story

At Cardinal Local School District, in Middlefield, OH, Speech Therapist Dr. Melissa Butler is in charge of screening and providing interventions for struggling grades three-through-eight students.

In September 2017, all 430 district students in those grades were given the MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach (MVRC) assessment. Based on their MindPlay, Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), and American Institute of Research (AIR) state testing scores, 129 students identified as struggling were placed on the MindPlay online reading software program. Many of these students qualified for special education services.

The Intervention

During the 2017-18 school year, 80 Cardinal Middle School students in grades five through eight, worked on MindPlay for 31 weeks, with an average of 32 usage hours. In Cardinal Elementary School, 25 third-grade students and 24 fourth-grade students used MVRC and had an average of 20.5 usage hours over 30 weeks.

The Results

“The most important reason I use and support MindPlay is that I have found a statistically significant improvement between the students who work on MindPlay and those who do not,” states Butler. She went on to say, “this difference is sometimes four times the improvement of the non-MindPlay students and is verified not only with the MindPlay assessment, but also with other state assessments such as MAP.”

Success Data for Grades Three Through Eight (2017-18 school year)

All students took the same year-end assessment. MindPlay intervention students improved an average of 1.62 grade levels, and the non-MindPlay students improved only 0.53 grade levels.

Grade MindPlay
Students—Average Improvements
Students—Average Improvements
Third 1.52 grade levels 0.50 grade levels
Fourth 1.42 grade levels 0.80 grade levels
Fifth 1.20 grade levels 0.67 grade levels
Sixth 1.27 grade levels 0.86 grade levels
Seventh 2.68 grade levels 0.74 grade levels
Eighth 2.23 grade levels 0.27 grade levels

Listed below are the 2017-2018 Fall to Spring MAP score average point improvements for MindPlay Intervention students (including special needs students on IEPs) versus non-intervention students. MindPlay students increased an average of 9.9 points, and the non-MindPlay students improved an average of 7.4 points.

Grade MindPlay
Point Increases
Point Increases
Third 17.2 points 12.4 points
Fourth 16.0 points 7.9 points
Fifth 4.2 points 4.0 points
Sixth 10.3 points 8.2 points
Seventh 4.0 points; 4.8 points
Eighth 7.7 points; 7.1 points

Seventh-grade MindPlay students had similar improvement to non-MindPlay students because the teacher used a Tier I intervention program with all students; however, MindPlay works best as a Tier II-III intervention.

Outstanding Individual Success for Middle School Students

An eighth-grade English Language Learner (ELL) completed 95 percent of the program in 47 usage hours. She went from a fourth-grade reading level all the way up to an eighth-grade level (above grade level).

A sixth-grade student completed 70 percent of the program in 32.5 usage hours. She went from a fourth-grade to a ninth-grade reading level (way above grade level).

A fifth-grade student completed 65 percent of the program in 42 usage hours. She went from a second-grade to a fifth-grade reading level (at grade level).

How MindPlay Stands Out: In an Expert’s Own Words

“As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I have been trained in many different phonological awareness and language-based programs, and I have concluded that MindPlay is the most comprehensive,” says Butler. “MindPlay stands out among the other programs and assessments that we use, such as MAP, because its detailed analysis of each skill helps us close achievement gaps. It would be virtually impossible for a handful of reading specialists to address the individual needs of every student using other programs, such as Wilson or Orton-Gillingham.”

Orton-Gillingham Approach for Reading

MindPlay is consistent with the Orton-Gillingham approach, which is language-based, multi-sensory, structured, sequential, and cumulative.

  • Language-Based: MindPlay is based on studying and learning how the English language works. It teaches students to understand the nature of language, including the proper production of each sound and supports the language-learning processes.
  • Multi-Sensory: MindPlay sessions are activity-oriented with auditory, visual, and kinesthetic elements reinforcing each other for optimal learning. A student learns spelling (encoding) simultaneously with reading (decoding). This process aids automaticity.
  • Structured and Sequential: Based on ease of sound production, MindPlay systematically introduces each sound. Students begin by reading and writing sounds in isolation. Then they blend the sounds into words. A unique syllabication method helps students encode and decode multi-syllabic words easily. Students learn the elements of language in a sequential fashion—consonants, short vowels, digraphs, blends, long vowels, and diphthongs. Students proceed to advanced structural elements, such as syllable types, roots, and affixes. MindPlay is mastery-based. As students master lessons, previously learned material is continually reviewed to the level of automaticity. The program addresses vocabulary, sentence structure, sentence composition, and reading comprehension in a similar structured, sequential, and cumulative manner.
  • Cumulative: MindPlay sequentially teaches English language patterns. Students learn the language and the many generalizations and rules that govern its structure. They also learn the best way to apply the language knowledge necessary for achieving reading comprehension and writing competencies.

How MindPlay Works

MindPlay is diagnostic-prescriptive in nature. It pre-tests each student in order to understand what that student already knows; it then assigns and implements appropriate lessons. The order of lessons and activity assignments is customized for individual student needs.

Students who work on MindPlay are able to experience a high degree of success in every lesson. As they progress through MindPlay lessons, they gain confidence as well as skill. Learning becomes easier, and students attack new challenges with enthusiasm.

Butler’s Final Words

MindPlay has contributed to the outstanding results of our students as they close the gaps in their reading skills. I especially like showing students their weekly reports and seeing their smiles as they realize how much their reading has improved.

<< Resources Elementary Learners (K-5) ELL Middle School Learners (6-8) Special Education Testimonials