Results from a recent study among third graders in a suburban public school district show substantial improvement in reading scores for those students who learned using a differentiated literacy program. The study was conducted in the East Hartford (CT) Public School District by Main Street Academix, an independent, university-based research company.
During the study, conducted from September 2008 through May 2009, third grade students who received Benchmark Education's Differentiated Literacy Program with On-Site Professional Development achieved reading levels 44% higher than peers in their school district. Significantly, economically disadvantaged (Title I) third grade students who received the Benchmark Program achieved reading levels 82% higher than peers in the district. The study was conducted in the East Hartford (CT) Public Schools by Main Street Academix, an independent, university-based research company. The full study is available for download here.
A key research finding was that Title I students who received the Benchmark Program improved as much or more than more affluent students. Also, Title I students in the lowest socioeconomic school receiving the Benchmark Program showed the greatest improvement in reading scores of any of the six elementary schools in the study.
"The Benchmark Education program, both the multi-level instructional materials and the high quality, ongoing professional development, made a very positive impact on the development of our teachers in differentiating instruction," said Debbie A. Kaprove, Assistant Superintendent of East Hartford Public Schools. "We saw improvement in our students' literacy and language acquisition as measured on independent and state assessments as a result of our year-long collaboration. There were noticeable gains in the percentage of students who scored 'At/Above Proficient' on the state reading test-an average gain of 10 points-for students in the program this past year."
Overall, third graders who received the Benchmark Education Program with long-term, on-site Professional Development at experimental schools achieved significant improvements of 31% to 62% as compared to students in the control schools that used other literacy programs. These gains were in Lexile reading level score, Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) overall assessment score, and in each of the four MAP subtests produced by the Northwest Evaluation Association: Construct Meaning, Interpretation/Analysis/Evaluation, Word Recognition/Vocabulary, and Devices/Conventions.
"I was most impressed with the fact that the gains in Lexile scores and overall MAP scores were reflected in our state's Mastery Test," said Scott J. Nozik, principal at Dr. Thomas S. O'Connell Elementary School in East Hartford, one of the experimental schools in the research study. "After a year of using the Benchmark materials, and participating in perhaps the best ongoing professional development I have ever seen, our third grade students posted the highest scores on the mastery test since its inception in 2006. In addition to the third grade students reaching new heights in the percentage of students scoring at or above goal, our free/reduced lunch population also set an all-time high in the percentage of students scoring at or above proficiency."
Title I and ELL Student Successes
Some of the most dramatic results of the research study were among Title I students and ELLs. Grade 3 Title I students in schools using Benchmark programs gained an average of 144 points in Lexile Reading score compared to an average gain of only 79 points by Title I students in control schools using other literacy programs. The gain by Title I students using Benchmark materials also statistically matched the gain by other students in the same schools.
English Language Learners (ELLs) in schools using Benchmark programs gained an average of 148 points in Lexile Reading score compared to an average gain of only 112 points by ELLs in control schools using other literacy programs. ELLs in schools using Benchmark programs gained an average of 9.6 points in Overall Reading (RIT) score, the largest RIT score gain achieved by any of the subgroups studied.