Reading Upgrade Research Trial, Spring 2004

by Teacher Rachel Losey

Branson School Online is a public virtual school serving students learning at home in Colorado. In spring 2004, 10 struggling readers grades 4 to 10 completed either the Reading Upgrade or Comprehension Upgrade on-line course at home. Teachers conducted pre-tests and post-tests. The entire trial lasted 2 months.The results, shown in the graph below, show that 90% of students (9 out of 10) made at least ½ year of growth in reading. The average gain was 1 year, with a maximum gain of 2.5 years.The Reading Upgrade course was used for students having difficulties with basic reading, including phonics and word decoding. Comprehension Upgrade was used for students who could read proficiently but required instruction to achieve more advanced comprehension.

The following are comments from teachers, parents, and students about their experiences with the courses:

” I am done for the day I really like the reading up grade it is fun.” (from a student)

“I think it’s a great program!” (from a teacher)

“One Secondary student, said that Reading Upgrade has helped him to be excited to learn and practice his reading for the first time in his life.” (from a teacher)

“He does enjoy the program and particularly loves the intro song.  Since when I first got him (at the beginning of the year) he did not know how to read at all and when he was introduced to Reading Upgrade he could read but certainly was not fluent, I am sure it had some positive impact.” (from a teacher)

“My student has loved Reading Upgrade this year!  If there is any possibility of him doing something similar in Middle School next year that would be great!” (from a teacher)

“When I tested him earlier in the year, he could barely get the words out of his mouth.  Today, he was on FIRE!  I’m so thrilled for this kiddo.  He has made tremendous progress!  His Dad was so pleased with his reading growth.” (from a teacher)

“Prior to Reading Upgrade, this student tested at a 7.5 Grade Level.  Today, she did a fantastic job reading at the 10.0 Grade Level.  She read very fluently, confidently, and answered the questions with lots of good details.” (from a teacher)

“My student made great strides with the program.  Both Grandmother and my student thought that the program helped.  They both liked it.  My student thought it was interactive and kept him interested.  Grandmother saw a difference in the amount of help he needed as the quarter went on with his other school work.  She used to sit with him and to help him with his work but the amount of help that he needed was less and less as his reading advanced.  She believes that the program coupled with all of the other support he has gotten this year was a huge contribution to his growth.  This is definitely a success story.  Both my student and Grandmother think this program should be used again at Branson. My student has satellite hook up for his internet connection.  He had no tech. problems with the program.” (from a teacher)

“Both my student and her mom highly recommend the reading upgrade program.  My student really liked doing the lessons and felt she learned so much while completing the program.  Mom liked how easy the program was and the interaction.  She felt it kept her daughter’s attention and saw that she liked to complete her lessons.  Both my student and mom feel that the program helped improve her reading! My student has dial up service and had two problems with the program throughout.  Both problems were easily fixed and did not cause too much trouble.  She was stuck on level 20 and then again I believe on 22.  To remedy the problem all I had to do was reset her for the next level and the program responded quickly and without any other problems.” (from a teacher)

“From the teacher’s point of view, I see that this program is a very good tool to help students improve in their reading.  I would like to see Branson continue to make this available to all students as we see they need it.  Of what I could see that they were learning, I believe the lessons were very valuable and from the results(even though Jennifer’s independent reading level stayed the same!) and feedback from my two families the program does help students improve in reading.” (from a teacher)

“My student said that she loved Reading Upgrade and looked forward to doing it each week.  Her mother said she was enthusiastic throughout the duration and completion of the Reading Upgrade program.” (from a teacher)

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