Learning Resources

Blended Learning Program Helps English Language Learners Rise to Grade-Level Reading Proficiency

A pilot program for second-grade classes at an elementary school with a predominantly ELL student population saw promising results using Lexia Reading Core5.

In an effort to raise reading rates for English Language Learners (ELL), one elementary school implemented a customized, blended learning program that yielded statistically significant results.

California Elementary School in Orange, CA, a Title I school, has a student population of 90 percent ELL. With a majority of students beginning the year two or more years below grade level, administrators and teachers have found it challenging to help students reach grade-level proficiency.

John Albert, the principal of California Elementary School, implemented a rigorous blended learning program as part of a study conducted last spring. The pilot program combined the school’s existing curriculum for English Language Arts in conjunction with Lexia Reading Core5.

Lexia Reading Core5, a part of the language learning software Rosetta Stone, is an online tool that provides systemic and personalized learning. The tool “accelerates reading skills development, predicts students’ year-end performance and provides teachers data-driven action plans to help differentiate instruction,” according to Lexia Reading.

Before deciding on Lexia, Albert said the online instructional tool needed to meet two qualifications. The first was that the data that was used to measure its effectiveness needed to be non-proprietary and fit with the assessments the school set. Second, it needed to use a blended learning model that complemented teacher instruction.

“We chose to pilot Lexia Reading Core5 because Lexia has an incredible reputation locally, based on several nearby districts using the program with great success,” said Albert, in a prepared statement. “The published efficacy data correlating gains in Lexia with outside measures was critically important to me and gave me great confidence that if we used Lexia Reading Core5 with fidelity, we would see excellent results and increase learning for our students.”

Second-grade students at California Elementary School work on Lexia Reading Core5 benchmarks, and occasionally receive help from teachers.

For the 16-week pilot study, two second-grade classes were assigned to use Core5, while a third class served as a control (non-Core5) class. There were 49 students in the two Core5 classes and 25 students in the non-Core5 class. All 74 students received 120 minutes of reading instruction, and 30 minutes of intervention time. Students in the Core5 classes would use the online tool to independently work on developing literacy skills, such as consonants, idioms and reading comprehension. As a 1-to-1 school, the students used iPads to work on Lexia benchmarks. The teachers would monitor students’ performance in Core5 and use real-time reports to guide instruction.  

To assess the students’ reading skills in connection with Core5, all students were tested with DIBELS Next (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills), a standard reading assessment. Additionally, Albert lead a “Mind the Gap” progress monitoring team that would meet weekly to review the Lexia data reports, identifying any students who needed additional instruction. The team comprised an instructional coach, site-based reading specialist and special needs teacher. Whenever a data report flagged a problem, the Mind the Gap team would meet with the students’ teacher to review the issue, and then the reading specialist or special needs teacher would intervene to help the student.

Overall, the Lexia Reading Core5 pilot program had the following results:

  • The number of students working on grade-level skills or had reached benchmark when from 16 percent to 69 percent;

  • Students using the online tool achieved a 25 percent growth on DIBELS Next assessment, compared to 6 percent for non-Core5 students; and

  • 100 percent of the students who reached the final benchmark in Core5 scored the highest category level on DIBELS Next.

Owing to the success of the pilot, the program expanded to include all classes at the beginning of this school year. California is continuing to see improvements in student literacy. The Orange Unified School District measures readings skills at the elementary school four times a year using the Scholastic Reading Inventory assessment. At the beginning of the school year, California had 46 percent of students as “far below basic,” according to Albert. When the school was assessed in January, there number changed to 23 percent.

Albert said that the students at the school have developed a passion for reading through the program. The students that complete Core5 can enter “reading circles,” where they read novels like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on interactive devices. “It’s really empowering as an educator to see that kind of change.”

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