It’s no secret that strong reading skills are part of the foundation of students’ academic success. Without a solid reading foundation, students are more likely to perform poorly or drop out of school.

Students don’t have to stick to paperback books to cultivate a love of reading, however—there are digital platforms that keep students engaged, pinpoint areas where students need to improve and give them the tools to do so, and also send important data to teachers for more individualized instruction.

Here, educators share their favorite reading software and offer insight into what makes these specific tools so helpful in supporting students’ reading habits.

Reading programs

“When using Foundations in Learning’s reading program Access Code, my language arts resource students made remarkable growth in their ability to tackle longer, multi-syllabic words, and this translated to better fluency and greater confidence. On average, they made 1.8 years of growth in approximately seven months as measured on the Qualitative Reading Inventory.”
—Christina Sorenson, language arts resource teacher, Henry Middle School, Cedar Park, Texas

“I am proud to say that I have been using Achieve3000 for three years. I am so blessed to have the opportunity for my students (Title 1 economically challenged) to use such a fantastic program. As a third-grade teacher, I love that the program gives my students expository text so they can learn about real-world events and are allowed to give their opinion. I listen to them get excited about articles and share with their classmates. I am a huge fan. For the last three years, I’ve had my students on this program, along with teaching, tutoring, and intervention, and all—and I mean all—my students have passed the STAAR™ reading since I’ve used this program.”
—Michael Kimberlin, third- grade teacher, Pease Elementary School, Austin, Texas

“Most of our students are economically disadvantaged, and many arrive at school below grade level. Fast ForWord targets the foundational skills that students can’t get working with a teacher or paraprofessional. Even after 10 years with Fast ForWord, teachers still tell me how thankful they are because it covers skills they can’t cover in an English language arts classroom. They also appreciate that it’s fixing problems early, so by the time students take our state tests in the third grade, they’ve closed those gaps.”
—Bridget Guillot, Title I liaison, St. Mary (LA) Parish Schools

Why we love our reading software

i-Ready provides easily accessible tools and reports that allow us to give students specific targeted interventions based on diagnostic results and individualized online instruction. As a result, teachers and support staff are able to identify and fill gaps in each student’s educational foundation that hinder his/her progress toward meeting grade-level standards. Our school has made substantial growth over the last year with full RTI implementation in classrooms and an RTI center using i-Ready as our guide.”
—Malissa Esquibel, support teacher/RTI center lead and technology coach, Muscoy Elementary School, California

Reading Horizons provides a 100-percent phonics approach to reading, with a Tier 1 intervention component. Our Title 1 teachers are also using Reading Horizons in their classrooms to catch any at-risk readers before they become eligible for special education.”
—Katie Neubauer, director of student services, Maryville (MO) R-II School District

“To generate reports that help our literacy team and district collect data and put it to work for our students, we use Renaissance Star Reading®. The assessments and the data generated allow for both diagnostic and prescriptive instruction. Unlike in years past, I have every tool I need to provide data-driven instruction, as well as generate reports for local and state accountability.”
—Mary Brown, reading intervention specialist, Franklin (OH) Local School District

“I love how user-friendly Shmoop is and how the tone of the program ‘speaks student.’ I used the online teaching guides in my AP Language classes and my students felt changed by the advanced vocabulary in the passages and the complexity of text offered in the drills. In fact, students from last year felt their high scores (4s and 5s) on the AP test were due, in part, to practice that they received using Shmoop resources. So, it was certainly worthwhile for me to implement it into daily instruction.”
—Fortunato Kelly, English/language arts literacy teacher, McNair Academic High School, New Jersey

“There are so many features that I enjoy about StudySync. First is the rigor of the Think Questions and the Close Read writing prompt. My students are now exposed to multi-part questions, many of which require them to cite evidence to support their answers. This is something that was lacking in our previous curriculum. Second is the rubric for grading writing. It used to take me hours to grade writing and was such a chore. Now, with the easy-three-criteria rubric that I can just click on, my grading time is reduced. Finally, the access handouts and skills assignments have helped me change to a blended-learning model of instruction. I love it!”
—Pattie Stilphen, instructional coach, Pelham (NH) School District

“I really appreciate the support that Lexia PowerUp Literacy provides to our secondary teachers who are not trained or responsible for teaching reading. PowerUp’s online instruction and offline scripted instructional materials are making them feel
much more comfortable in their ability to support their students’ literacy needs.”
—Robyn Swisher, instructional coach, Estherville Lincoln Central Middle School, Iowa

About the Author:

Ellen Ullman is editorial director, content services, for eSchool Media.


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