Differentiated literacy solution sends reading skills soaring
In the predominantly Hispanic speaking Tucson Unified School District, (Ariz.) school officials were searching for not only a dual-language reading and writing program, but a solution that would improve student literacy for every learner regardless of reading ability.
After looking at other options, they chose Achieve3000, a provider of Web-based differentiated instructional solutions for grades 2 through 12. KidBiz3000, Teen- Biz3000 and Empower3000 meet the needs of non-native English speakers—and every other type of student population—while tailoring lessons to the precise reading level of each student.
In the 12 schools that used Achieve3000 during the past year, students made significant literacy improvement. In fact, the greatest gains were achieved by struggling readers who were two or more levels below their grade, according to school officials.
"The teachers think it's wonderful," said Lupita Cavazos- Garcia, assistant superintendent of government programs and community outreach. "They were anxious to get their hands on enhancement materials that could strengthen instructional delivery. It's almost like having a second teacher in the classroom."
Cavazos-Garcia said the program is easy to implement and use. Twelve levels of highly engaging nonfiction text are delivered daily, and every article is translated into Spanish or English, so students can read them in either language, or both. Achieve3000 solutions also assess each student's level of reading comprehension. Text difficulty is adjusted accordingly, so each child receives a lesson tailored to his or her personal ability.
"With the click of a button, students can be reading in English and then change to Spanish in the same story as their reading levels are adjusted appropriately," Cavazos- Garcia explained.
"When you have children at different reading levels, the students with lower ability are usually given alternate reading material. If they use alternate reading material, then they don't get to read what the others are reading and they can't participate in class discussions. With this program, you can lower the difficulty of an article so they are all discussing the same thing."
Tucson USD is a 53,000-student district that is comprised of 61 percent Spanish speakers. Achieve3000 is used in all grades in those select schools. According to Cavazos- Garcia, the greatest improvements in literacy overall occurred in third and seventh-grade students. They have experienced accelerated growth, exceeding their expected Lexile gains after just a year of working with Achieve3000. Seventh- and eighth-grade students averaged gains in reading and vocabulary that were triple the norm.
"The improvements we've seen are phenomenal," said Cavazos-Garcia.
Another benefit, she said, is parental engagement. Caregivers are trained on how to use the Achieve3000 Home Edition, which has led to increased parental involvement. "It allows the parent to be an active participant. Even if they don't speak English, they can read the assignment in Spanish." Cavazos-Garcia applauded the distinctive features that Achieve3000 brings to the classroom.
"None of them offered the uniqueness of having stories translated with the click of a button, or reading levels that could be lowered or raised," she said. "And the students can respond to teachers directly through the Internet. The students in this program can answer questions and get a response from the teacher right away." "The bottom line is, it excites and engages kids. They are having fun writing and reading," Cavazos-Garcia said. "And the teachers think it's wonderful. They could not believe there was a program that could do so many things."
For more information about Achieve3000 literacy solutions, please visit www.achieve3000.com.