News

At Risk Students Improved Reading by Grade Levels in Summer School Research Study Using MindPlay Program

By Andrea Jones
July 9th, 2014

MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach® recently won a 2014 BESSIE Award and received an endorsement for special education by CASE

Tucson, AZ, June 29, 2014 – As summer-school season begins, literacy publisher MindPlay, Inc. announced the results of a summer school research study where at-risk students improved reading grade levels dramatically after using its online reading program. The program students used in summer school classes to help improve reading performance, MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach® (MVRC), is a common-core aligned award-winning program that helps students in grades K-12 learn to read. This spring the quality of MVRC was recognized as it won a prestigious 2014 Best Educational Software Award, “BESSIE,” in the Early Elementary Reading category from ComputEd. The program also received a Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) re-endorsement, approving MVRC for its standards to use with special needs students. The study included 68 at-risk students who recently finished 8th grade and were identified as reading below grade level. The students included 56 boys and 12 girls. They received instruction and the intervention at one of four public middle schools in a large district in Southern Arizona. The summer school program was a total of only 16 days of instruction for four hours per day. Two hours daily were spent focusing on reading and two hours focusing on math.
Students who participated in the study were pre and post tested with an independent assessment, the Test of Silent Word Reading Fluency (TOSWRF), which measures a student’s ability to recognize printed words. During the study, researchers observed in the classrooms that students stayed on task most of the time while they were using MVRC. This was an impressive finding considering the students were at-risk and mostly boys, who tend to struggle staying on task.
Comparing the students’ raw scores out of 100 points on the TOSWRF before and after the summer school program, the mean score of all students increased 7 points from 88 at the beginning to 95 afterward. The TOSWRF was designed to use raw scores to identify reading grade level. The raw scores were also used to identify growth in reading skills in relation to grade level. For students whose initial raw score was below 8th grade level, the mean was 97, which according to the test’s scoring guide, was equal to a grade level of 5th grade seventh month. After the final day of instruction, the mean score was 114, a 17 point gain equivalent to a grade level of 7th grade second month. The mean score of students who started out summer school reading below grade level improved more than one and a half reading grade levels in just 16 days of instruction!
“The growth the students experienced in a brief a span of time truly exceeded my expectations,” said Alex Chambers, MA, M.Ed, an instructor and graduate associate at the University of Arizona who conducted the research study. “Having access to MVRC for only 16 days, many of the students were able to catch up a grade level or more in reading. I only wish the summer school program would have been longer.”
Among the students who initially scored higher at or above 8th grade level, the mean was 140, which was equivalent to a 10th grade level at the beginning of the study. After the final day of summer school instruction, the mean raw score among these students was 153, equivalent to a grade level of 11th grade in the second month. This was a 13 point gain and full grade level improvement in mean score reading grade level among students who were at or above their reading grade level at the start of summer school.

To read the entire study, visit www.mindplay.com. The researcher for this study, Alex W. Chambers, was the first author. At the time, Chambers was a third-year doctoral student at the University of Arizona. He was under the supervision of Dr. Nancy Mather, a professor at the University of Arizona specializing in learning disabilities with an emphasis on reading and written language. Third author for this study was Katherine Stoll, who was also a third-year doctoral student.

About MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach
MVRC helps teachers provide direct instruction to all students. It provides virtual reading specialists and speech pathologists, who students can see and hear onscreen through video. MVRC provides instruction in six essential reading components: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Grammar for Meaning, Comprehension, and Fluency.
All stories within the Web-based MVRC are assigned Lexile® ratings by MetaMetrics®. MindPlay’s Lexile text complexity ratings are consistent with Common Core State Standards. MVRC helps students improve their reading skills measurably in 40 hours or less by differentiating instruction for each student. Using explicit and direct instruction by reading specialists and speech pathologists, students work at their own pace. The program helps all students improve their reading, and is appropriate for special needs, dyslexic, struggling readers, and intermediate to advanced English language learners.
Based on years of research and successful case studies, MindPlay guarantees schools that 90 percent of students will gain at least two grade-levels of improvement in reading when using MVRC four days a week for 30 minutes each day, or MindPlay will refund their purchase. The program is completely cloud-based and works on all computer platforms. An award-winning publisher, MindPlay has helped over 6 million people learn to read in its 30-year history. MVRC automates for teachers the process of assessing reading skills and differentiating instruction. It enables all students to receive direct instruction that targets their specific and unique barriers to build accuracy and achieve fluent reading. The research-based program applies expert teaching methods. Students receive feedback targeted to help them understand and fix each error.

Pricing and Availability
MVRC is available online now. For information and ordering, schools and districts can visit MindPlay at www.mindplay.com, or education resellers. The program is available from any computer with Internet access. MVRC is available for home use for $299. Volume pricing is also available for schools.
MindPlay, Inc.
More than 30 years ago, Founder Judith Bliss started the MindPlay Company to create a solution to overcome 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 modern technological innovations. MindPlay educational software programs appeal to multiple learning styles, identify individual student needs and differentiate instruction. For more information, please go to www.mindplay.com.
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About the Author:

Andrea Jones

Andrea Jones is a technology specialist in Virginia. A former French teacher, she currently supports technology integration in a middle school.