After Successful Pilot, Schools Adopt EarlyBird Game-Based Screener to Identify Children at Risk for Dyslexia and Reading Difficulties

BOSTON — Aug. 12, 2021 — After participating in a pilot trial of the new EarlyBird game-based early literacy assessment, schools and districts across the United States have chosen to adopt EarlyBird for the 2021-22 school year. Developed and scientifically validated at Boston Children’s Hospital in partnership with faculty at the Florida Center for Reading Research, EarlyBird brings together all the relevant predictors of reading in one easy-to-administer assessment, and provides teachers with customized action plans and resources for each student.

During the 2020-21 school year, schools and districts from Maine to California tested EarlyBird with approximately 2,000 children. Maine School Administrative District No. 11 (MSAD #11), for example, began piloting EarlyBird in one elementary school in March, then expanded to a second school in May. This fall, it will implement EarlyBird in all kindergarten classrooms district-wide.

“As soon as we began using EarlyBird, we realized it had a lot of power in terms of the experience it offers students and the actionable data it provides to classroom teachers,” said Angela Hardy, director of curriculum and instruction for MSAD #11. “This data not only helps teachers respond to the needs of the students in front of them, it also helps them think about how they might change their practices or scope and sequence in years to come.”…Read More

DreamBox Learning® Enters ELA Market with Acquisitions of Reading Plus® and Squiggle Park

BELLEVUE, Wash. —July 19, 2021 — DreamBox Learning, the leading education technology provider that in 2006 pioneered intelligent adaptive learning, today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Reading Plus, an evidence-based online reading program for grades 3-12 designed to help students boost their literacy skills and reading confidence. This move complements DreamBox’s recent acquisition of Squiggle Park, a K-2 reading solution designed to help students gain proficiency in early literacy. The combined programs offer school districts the only dual-discipline solution rated “Strong” by Johns Hopkins’ EvidenceforESSA.org in both mathematics and reading.

“These strategic additions to the DreamBox family represent a significant milestone toward achieving our mission to radically change the way the world learns and unlock learning potential for all students – regardless of race, gender or zip code,” said Jessie Woolley-Wilson, President and CEO of DreamBox Learning. “We believe the winning formula to shape the future of learning has three components:  dual-discipline offerings that cultivate a strong foundation in mathematics and reading; strong data and analytics solutions that leverage formative data to personalize the learning experience; and professional development to help educators develop their blended learning knowledge and skills.” 

Currently, DreamBox supports over 5 million students and over 200,000 educators in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated DreamBox’s growth as most district administrators rapidly adopted and scaled blended learning solutions to support remote learning. During this time, teachers’ attitudes towards blended learning changed and they began to see it as a powerful and effective strategy to deliver engaging, personalized, and effective learning experiences that enabled them to keep learning “on” even when schools were closed.…Read More

Zaner-Bloser Partners with Listenwise to Sell Its Listening Skills Platform

Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of early literacy resources, has entered into an agreement with ed-tech company Listenwise, an award-winning platform that brings podcasts to the classroom, to promote and sell its listening skills platform of the same name to the K-5 market.

Launched in 2014 for secondary grade students and in 2020 for elementary school students, Listenwise harnesses the power of listening to advance literacy and learning in all students by using podcasts as classroom texts, amplifying content and providing students practice in required listening skills. It uses a curated collection of compelling, nonfiction podcasts and stories from National Public Radio and other trusted sources, paired with learning tools and comprehension assessments, to engage students while advancing their literacy skills. Aligned with all states’ English Language Arts standards, it’s a unique listening skills platform for the K-12 school market.

“We’re excited to promote and offer this program in alignment with our mission of providing joyful learning opportunities for all students,” said Amanda Stedke, Vice President of Product for Zaner-Bloser. “Listening to podcasts is an engaging way for all students to build their literacy skills.”…Read More

5.3 Million Star Assessments Show the True Impact of the COVID Slide

Renaissance, a global leader in pre-K–12 education technology, has released How Kids Are Performing: Tracking the Impact of COVID-19 on Reading and Mathematics Achievement, a report detailing the learning effects associated with COVID-19 school disruptions. Designed to end the speculation and provide guidance for educators as they address learning gaps, the report is based on the results of more than five million student assessments.

Student assessments from all 50 states and the District of Columbia were included in the sample, which consisted of students in grades 1–8 who took Star Early Literacy, Star Reading, or Star Math assessments during both Fall 2019 and Fall 2020.

Key findings of the report include the following:…Read More

Student achievement begins with the family

At Wichita Falls Independent School District in Texas, we believe every student deserves to begin their academic career at the same starting line. It’s an issue of fairness and equity, certainly, but it’s also a practical matter. When students fall behind in the earliest years of their education, around ages 5–7, it becomes much more difficult to bring them to grade-level reading as they grow. Simply put, the biggest bang for our buck in developing strong students across grade levels comes from starting early and making sure they have a solid foundation.

Related: Can technology help teach literacy in poor communities?

The students who need the most help, however, often face a slew of other challenges in their lives, from unstable home environments to poverty and hunger and other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). We’ve found that committing to focus on school readiness, partnering with community organizations, and looking to technology for an assist when needed, can go a long way toward helping provide students with the right tools to succeed.…Read More

Utah’s early literacy program works–here’s why

Latest evaluation of statewide early literacy program shows high correlation with kindergarten readiness compared to control group

A statewide kindergarten readiness initiative in Utah is helping children develop early literacy skills before they enter kindergarten, and is doing so at a higher rate than among children who are not in the program.

The state’s UPSTART program, developed by the nonprofit Waterford Institute, uses an early literacy curriculum delivered digitally in the home.

A report analyzing the program’s fifth year suggests that technology has considerable merit for delivering curriculum, teaching critical early reading skills that are known predictors of later school performance, and closing early learning gaps that disproportionately affect disadvantaged children.…Read More

Report sets forth early learning recommendations

Education organizations have joined together to support alignment of preschool through third grade education.

A comprehensive alignment of preschool through third grade (P-3) education is critical in ensuring that children develop a solid foundation in literacy, math, and social-emotional skills, according to a new report that offers recommendations for high-quality P-3 initiatives.

“The Importance of Aligning Pre-K through 3rd Grade,” released by the Pre-K Coalition, which includes the American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Education Association, and the National School Boards Association (NSBA), details best practices for improving early learning.…Read More

More than 100 cities, counties agree to push early literacy

Washington D.C., Baltimore and six communities in Virginia are among the more than 150 cities and counties across the country that are pledging to concentrate on early literacy efforts to ensure that children can read by the end of third grade, the Washington Post reports. The Campaign for Grade Level Reading is a collaborative effort by dozens of funders to make sure that all children, especially those from low-income families who often enter kindergarten already behind, learn to read. Signing onto the campaign are big cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and Atlanta, and the entire state of Arizona…

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Arne Duncan hops on a bus to address rust belt school districts

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan kicked off his three-day Great Lakes bus tour here, in a city he calls a national model for school reform, the Huffington Post reports.

“It wasn’t a coincidence that we wanted to start this bus tour in Pittsburgh,” Duncan told a gymnasium full of students, teachers and parents at Martin Luther King Elementary School. “I know you’ve had some tough conversations behind closed doors. But I know what you’re doing collectively is also a model for the country.”

Pittsburgh was just the first stop on Duncan’s back-to-school tour, which will roll through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois……Read More