Study of Blended Learning Reading Program in Michigan Shows Significant Effects for Adolescent Learning Disabled Students


Tyler Reed
Scholastic Inc.
212-343 6427

Students in System 44® significantly outperform their peers in control group

NEW YORK, N.Y. — (April 1, 2013) — Breakthrough research on a blended learning program for students who struggle severely with reading is among the few to show significant effects for students with learning disabilities. The study of System 44®, a foundational reading program from Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL) that helps older struggling readers catch up to their peers, took place in Saginaw, Mich., and evaluated student growth on multiple assessments compared to a control group of students receiving other interventions.

Conducted by RMC Research during the 2011-2012 school year, the research showed that System 44 had significant effects on the students enrolled in the program in grades 4-8, more than half of whom were identified as learning disabled. The study found a positive, statistically significant effect using several different reading measures. For example, the estimated effect size on CTOPP Elision, a measure of phonemic sensitivity, was 0.27 for all System 44students and .36 for learning disabled students using the program, equivalent to students improving their skills by11 and 14 percentile points, respectively.

The result of a collaboration between Scholastic and two leading experts on phonics instruction and educational technology -- Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams, Visiting Professor, Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences Department, Brown University and Dr. Ted Hasselbring of the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University — System 44 brings a research-based instructional model to classrooms that blends teacher-led instruction with powerful, adaptive technology that delivers personalized instruction to students and data to teachers.

The System 44 adaptive software provides each student with individualized instruction in phonics and foundational reading skills, deliberate practice, visual representations, instruction in multiple modalities, and second language support in Spanish – essential supports for students who face learning challenges or have special needs.

The study in Saginaw followed 368 students in several schools within the district, half of whom were randomly assigned to System 44 and all of whom began the year reading far below grade level expectations. The researchers used multiple independent assessments to measure student growth from the beginning of the school year to the end.

"The results of this study show that with the right combination of research-based teaching methods, cutting-edge technology that helps teachers individualize instruction, and a relentless focus on data and the needs of each student, children facing tremendous obstacles can learn to read and succeed," said Margery Mayer, President of Scholastic Education. "It’s humbling to know that the work we put in day after day to help open doors for students to college and career is paying off."

The results of this study add to the scant body of literature on the impact of reading intervention for upper elementary and middle school students with reading disabilities. The significant improvements in performance for students receiving System 44 suggest that we can change the course of learning for our most at risk, older struggling readers, thereby opening the door for later learning and success in life.

"As educators, we feverishly seek practices that will allow all of our students to reach their highest academic potential. System 44 has demonstrated that through a strong implementation practice, it can have a positive impact on student reading," said Dr. Carlton D. Jenkins, Superintendent of Saginaw Public Schools. "From these results, I gained a strong sense of confirmation about what can occur for all students when you design learning partnerships around appropriately trained teachers, building level instructional leaders and committed partners like Scholastic."

"I am truly amazed at the results System 44 was able to produce, particularly with our middle school learning disabled students," said Melinda Carroll, Director of Special Education for the Saginaw schools. "Its intense, prescriptive, laser-like focus, was able to move struggling readers forward by grade levels, in such a short period of time."