School Dramatically Raises Students' Standardized Reading Test Scores

What would a class have to do to be featured on the local news? Or NBC Nightly News? Or be written up in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post or USA Today's Educational Supplement? How about nearly tripling their standardized reading test scores, moving from the 22nd percentile all the way up to the 59th percentile nationally? Room 203, Garrison Elementary in Washington, D.C. did just that. Using EBS reading and comprehension software from The Electronic Bookshelf, Inc., of Frankfort, Indiana, students in Room 203 are accomplishing what every K-12 teacher dreams about -- raising test scores, and raising them dramatically.

Personally Chosen 

Mark Lewis, the 2nd/3rd grade teacher responsible for this amazing success story, relates how he came to choose EBS. "I had been looking for innovative ways to help my class improve their reading skills -- a way to motivate them and help their comprehension," he says. After researching the current offerings quite well, Lewis decided that EBS was the most effective way available to get kids excited about reading. 

He decided that EBS was the most effective way available
to get kids excited about reading.

Purchased out of his own pocket, the software's easy setup and install functions, available titles disks, and excellent administrative capabilities helped Lewis select EBS. "I chose all of the Caldecott award-winning books," says Lewis. This gave him not just stimulating picture books, of which there are many, but books that have been selected for the prestigious award according to the highest standards in children's literature.

Inherently Adjustable  

EBS gives teachers a tool that lets them manage their students' reading progress quickly and easily. Instead of countless hours spent setting up, preparing for and implementing a complicated reading program, the software's inherent flexibility lets Lewis effortlessly set up a reading program that suits both his students and his time. 

He generally has students read assigned books twice before even attempting an EBS quiz on the computer. Then, students sit down at the computer and take tests where they must get four out of five questions correct. This formula seems to work quite well for most students, but Lewis is already planning to introduce more challenging tests to the classes. 

"The kids come to me in second grade and most of them can't read, which is sad, really," he says. "They are struggling to even decode, or sound out the words, let alone understand what they mean."  What EBS d'es for Lewis' students is help them with comprehension, giving them a much-needed boost in confidence. It also helps them pay attention to what is said, to focus and really listen. "It makes them more alert readers," notes Lewis.

Enthusiastic Students 

Students react so ardently to the program, Lewis says, that he even has to limit them to one test per student per day.  "The kids are incredibly enthusiastic about [EBS], almost too enthusiastic," he says. "They all want to get on the computer, and they just love the program."  

Lewis is ecstatic about the program's success so far, and its acceptance among his students. With the flexibility that the EBS software provides, he will be able to challenge and motivate his students even more. He plans to add more difficult books to the list and will make the tests longer, switching from five questions per test to ten per test. Perhaps this will dissuade his students from wanting to take more than one test per day, he comments wryly. 

Lewis also plans to eventually add his own, personally chosen books to the program, giving him and his class even more control over their extremely successful reading program.

This article originally appeared in the 12/01/1996 issue of THE Journal.

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