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The Research Is In! Using Reading Eggs to Support Elementary Literacy in South Carolina

The Research Is In! Using Reading Eggs to Support Elementary Literacy in South Carolina

This blog is the first of two posts on research recently completed by a Reading Eggs customer in South Carolina, Fairfield Magnet School for Math and Science (FMSMS). Today, we’re excited to share a post guest-written by the FMSMS educator who led this initiative, Dr. Latisha Lowery. Read on to learn about the outstanding study that Dr. Lowery designed, and stay tuned to learn more about literacy success at FMSMS. 

As educators, we all recognize the importance of ensuring that all students are proficient readers and writers. As a matter of fact, literacy is the key to success in the educational setting and in the workforce. A study published in Educational Technology Research and Development even states, “From elementary school through college, every content area relies on students’ ability to read and process text as the main vehicle for transmitting information.” As the literacy coach at Fairfield Magnet School for Math and Science in Winnsboro, South Carolina, it was my charge to ensure that our teachers were using best practices and resources to develop proficient readers.

One key way I was able to do this was by conducting an action research study that evaluated the effectiveness of our online literacy program, Reading Eggs. When I first started this action research study, I was new to my position as a literacy coach. South Carolina had just passed the Read to Succeed Act, with the mission to “offer a comprehensive, systematic approach to reading which ensures that students will develop reading and writing to prepare them to be college-and career-ready”. As a result, each elementary school was required to have a literacy coach. Teachers had to participate in ongoing professional learning opportunities to increase their knowledge base and improve instructional practices related to literacy. Moreover, the anxiety for administrators, teachers, and parents around literacy instruction increased due to the requirement that all students not reading proficiently by third grade would be retained beginning in the 2017-18 school year.

At my school, we knew we had to reevaluate our current practices as well as the resources we were using to ensure that what we were doing was effective and beneficial for our students. In doing so, I met with the Deputy Superintendent of Academics of Fairfield County School District to make a plan of action. Since our district had recently implemented a 1:1 Google Chromebook initiative and most students in our school had access to their own device, we decided to take a closer look at how we were using technology. We also wanted to examine the resources we were using to improve reading proficiency scores in our school. This led us to evaluate Reading Eggs.

At Fairfield Magnet School for Math and Science, the Reading Eggs program has been used since 2014 to supplement instruction and serve as a part of the reading intervention support for students in first and second grades. However, we had never evaluated the effectiveness of this program through a quantitative study. At the time, I was also in the process of completing my doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of South Carolina, Columbia.  I decided to collaborate with my school’s second grade team to develop and plan an action research study that fulfilled the requirements of my dissertation, as well as provided myself and my colleagues with concrete data to inform our instructional practices around literacy.

Ultimately, thirty-one students participated in the study. The 2nd grade students represented two classes; Class A had 15 students, and Class B had 16 students. Class A served as the treatment group. Students in this class received supplemental literacy interventions using Reading Eggs, in addition to the daily needs-based interventions provided by the classroom teacher. Both classes used a Reading and Writing Workshop model which includes a mini lesson, independent reading, conferring for one-on-one instruction, guided reading for small group instruction and share-out time. Additionally, students also received 30 minutes of targeted, needs-based intervention daily outside of the ELA block.

At the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, 35% of the students in second grade were reading below grade level according to the Fountas & Pinnell (2011) Reading Benchmark Assessment System 1. More specifically, 46% of students in Class A and 25% of students in Class B assessed below grade level according to the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark. After the initial assessment, students were provided reading interventions for six weeks. Students in Class A were provided needs-based interventions from their teacher and they also used the Reading Eggs program for supplemental intervention. Class B only received intervention instruction from their teacher.

After the needs-based interventions and the Reading Eggs supplement, only 27% of students in Class A were reading below grade level, 60% were reading on grade level, and 13% were reading above grade level. This represented a 19% decrease in the number of students reading below grade level. Moreover, the number of students reading on grade level increased by 13% and the number of students reading above grade level increased by 6%. In Class B, after the needs-based interventions reading gains were noted; however, the improvements did not allow students to change categories. The percentage of students in each category remained the same with 25% of students reading below grade level, 62% reading on grade level, and 13% reading above grade level. Since Class A’s students showed more growth than Class B, it was made clear that targeted, needs-based reading interventions supplemented by online practice with Reading Eggs have a positive effect on reading proficiency levels as determined by the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System 1. Following this six-week study, I concluded, when explicit intervention instruction is coupled with Reading Eggs as a supplemental intervention, students demonstrate more growth in reading levels.

After evaluating this data, we decided to expand our study and use Reading Eggs to supplement instruction in both 2nd grade classrooms. We continued to use the program throughout the school year, and at the end of the 2016-17 school year we saw tremendous growth in both Class A and B. More specifically, by the end of the school year in Class A, just 7% of students were reading below grade level, 33% were reading on grade level, and 60% were reading above grade level. In Class B, 6% of students were reading below grade level, 19% were reading on grade level, and 75% were reading above grade level as determined by the Fountas and Pinnell Assessment System I.

Reading Eggs Study Class A Average Reading Growth

Reading Eggs Study Class B Average Reading Growth

And, we didn’t stop there! At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, the data from our study was shared with all faculty and staff in kindergarten through 2nd grades at my school. Due to the positive reviews from our second-grade teachers and students, as well as the remarkable data to prove effectiveness, teachers were eager to use Reading Eggs as a supplemental tool in their classrooms. Today, all of our primary classrooms are following the same model that our second-grade team followed last year, and we are seeing tremendous growth. I can confidently say that Reading Eggs has been very effective in helping us improve reading proficiency levels at Fairfield Magnet School for Math and Science, and we’re excited to continue using the program!

Check back for the second post in this series to continue learning about FMSMS’s outstanding literacy program. In the meantime, learn more about the importance of reading by the third grade on the Edmentum blog.