Study: West Farms School PS6, New York

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Background of Study

It is well-known that students who are not reading by 3rd grade have a greater chance of lagging behind their peers. As they move up in grade level, the gap becomes wider. Despite many efforts at improving the reading skills of these students, there has been no significant improvement in 4 th grade reading scores across the country as reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. (NAEP)

average reading scores

In attempting to analyze the reasons behind the failure of improvement, one should look at the work of Dr. Joseph Torgeson, Florida State University.

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His research suggests that those students who start 1st grade without an adequate base of phonics and phonemic awareness never catch up to their peers. This problem is extremely prevalent in the lower socio-economic students, especially those who are English Language Learners and do not speak English at home.

The Study

Based on the hypothesis that many Elementary School students who are significantly behind in their reading skills will benefit most from a phonics/phonemic awareness program that is implemented with fidelity, PS 6 (Bronx) undertook a one academic year study to see if a phonics-based program in electronic format worked better than what had previously been used in the school.

The Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment Systems are accurate and reliable tools to identify the instructional and independent reading levels of all students and document student progress. This school uses The Fountas & Pinnell Assessments to monitor their students throughout the academic year. The students included in this study were all in the second grade in general education classes. None of them had IEPs or were on RTI programs.

78 students in four classroom groups participated in this study. The students worked on their program for 60 minutes three times each week for the entire school year. The results of the students were provided in June 2016.


Only 13% of the students in the 2nd grade were reading at or above grade level in September 2015 while 54% were at a grade level in May 2016. 83% of all students made 3 or more grade level improvement. The students who did not reach level still showed 3.6 levels of improvement.


Low performing Elementary School students can reach grade level or at least show significant academic improvement using an Orton-Gillingham approach like MaxScholar in an electronic format with frequent lessons.

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