Reading Plus: a teacher's guide

Paul Main

How can schools use Reading Plus to support their most disadvantaged students?

What is Reading Plus?

Reading Plus is an adaptive reading intervention program designed to improve reading comprehension and speed up literacy acquisition across all grades. This program offers teachers a highly effective and efficient method to identify struggling readers and teach them to read better. Students who take part in this program can improve their reading fluency, motivation, comprehension, and reading stamina as they progress towards becoming engaged global citizens. This platform might have particular significance for disadvantaged students as the difficulty of texts has been categorised. This means that, with the correct scaffolding, individual student performance can be monitored and stretched.

It comprises three components:

  1. A web-based adaptive assessment called InSight, which provides a fast and effective means of determining students' reading proficiency and ensuring they are on a personalized reading path to success.
  2. Adaptive, personalized instruction and practice that supports direct instruction and differentiation.
  3. Accessible resources that enable teachers to implement the program effectively.

In addition to these three core components, Reading Plus comes with a content library containing hundreds of high-quality digital resources for 19 reading levels ranging from early first-grade readability through college-level texts.

Students with diverse needs, including English learner, special education, RTI/MTSS tiers 1 through 3, and advanced readers, are served by this program.

The Reading Plus program has been used in over 7800 schools helping over 1 million students become confident, lifelong readers. Reading Plus claims to produce 2.5 years of growth in a single school year when used with fidelity. 

How Students Benefit from Reading Plus

Reading Plus is a digital platform designed specifically to support students in developing their reading skills. It provides adaptive learning tools to help students learn to read independently while improving their understanding of complex texts. 

It allows teachers to personalize instruction for each individual student using a variety of tools, including: 

  • Customization of content level based on assessment data
  • Adaptive feedback to ensure that students are working at their just right level
  • Progress monitoring
  • Personalized Guided Practice
  • A moving window guides student's eyes across lines of print 
  • Interactive quizzes to assess comprehension
  • Intermittent assessments to monitor student progress

A sequence of daily activities is performed by students in individual computer-based, online environment. 

With Reading Plus, students can read independently while being guided by the teacher. This means that students can move forward when they understand the material and slow down when they need additional time to fully comprehend the text.

Reading Plus provides a tutor who's with the student for every task. And students can read at their school levels and work on their own specific skill sets until they're comfortable and competent. When students have this type of support, and a chance to read a high volume before moving to the next stage of complexity, that promotes deep learning.

Reading Plus student reports
Reading Plus student reports

How does Reading Plus work

The combination of library texts designed to capture a child's attention and on-screen tool to keep the silent reading fluency intervention on track includes:

Step 1: Reading Test

This emphasis is on reading speed and reading comprehension.

Step 2: Inclusion of three options in Students sessions

Selections from an enormous library, something for every student to choose from a wide range of books. Selections represent narrative texts, expository texts, and informational texts in a wide array of genres.

  • The 10-15 minutes lessons include silent reading with most text blacked out to keep the student reading consistently at their pace. There are comprehensions questions at the end.
    Dynamically controlled by individual student performance, comprehension questions are either interspersed between individual reading segments or followed at the conclusion of the story.
  • Vocabulary and spelling.
  • Visual tracking exercises.

Students have ownership of choice and can read stories of interest, with a game-like aspect being incentives to “unlock” fresh stories in their library as they progress.

Reading Plus uses comprehension questions and reading speed metrics to keep students progressing through the program, moving to higher levels of texts as they meet benchmarks.

It provides a data-driven starting point for the personalized instruction and practice students need to become independent readers.

The system will alert teachers if students are demonstrating excessive reading rates and/or prolonged, inconsistent performance.

Reading plus detailed student outcomes
Reading plus detailed student outcomes

What skills are improved in Reading Plus?

Comprehension skills: Comprehension skills are strategies a reader uses to construct meaning and retrieve information from the text.

The comprehension skill-building includes:

Skill Practice Worksheets: Worksheets explain the specific comprehension skill and give examples using actual texts. Students apply the lessons they learned with additional text examples and comprehension questions to further their understanding of the skill.

Perception skills:

Each lesson begins with a perceptual accuracy and visual efficiency (PAVE) student warm-up. This activity comprises two parts, Scan and Flash. In the Scan activity, students scan the computer screen to count the number of times a target letter or number appears on the screen. The target and other letters or numbers are flashed in a left-to-right presentation. The presentation speed increases with the student’s proficiency. In the second activity, Flash, a series of letters or numbers ranging in length from 2 to 12 depending on the students’ placement level are flashed (1/6 of a second per flash, which does not permit moving of the eyes and thus provides single fixation training). The amount of numbers or letters increases in response to the students’ ability to correctly recreate the sequence and the rate at which text is presented on screen is then incrementally increased as a function of students’ performance. This warm-up activity aims to increase students’ visual perception, attention, and automaticity in the discrimination and recognition of print.

Vocabulary skills:

These closed-structured exercises should encourage students to use context clues to complete the meaning of sentences and longer passages. Students also practice deriving the meaning of difficult or unfamiliar word meanings by analyzing the surrounding context presented in each activity, potentially enhancing their wide reading vocabulary level.

Writing skills: 

Writing is a skill that requires effort and practice. It takes time to develop proficiency in it. The best way to improve your writing skills is by practicing. This is where Reading Plus comes in.

It provides students with a wide variety of reading materials that helps them learn to comprehend complex texts. These include fiction and nonfiction books, magazines, newspapers, academic journals, and textbooks.

Students receive personalized feedback from tutors based on their responses to the reading material. They are then given writing exercises to practice the skills learned during the reading session.

How does an English Teacher use Reading Plus?

Finding the time and resources to support these strategies can be hard. In a fifth-grade classroom, teachers could have students reading at a 10th-grade level, second-grade level, third-grade level, and so on. Finding material that works for all of them is a challenge. But tools like Reading Plus give teachers a large bank of resources. If they need any material, it's easy to find texts on the same topic for students. Students gain the same knowledge and skills, but do it at their level.

To use Reading Plus, the staff qualified to administer includes mostly the classroom teachers/reading coaches. There is dedicated implementation training provided to teachers. 

Requirements for staff training: 4-8 hours of training

Instructors (classroom teachers or reading coaches) receive two-part training that takes place via either face-to-face or live webinars. Instructors receive Initial Training before they get started with Reading Plus® and Follow-Up Training once students have completed at least eight sessions in the program.

The Initial Training covers content in five areas:

  1. Why Reading Plus?: Instructors learn how and why Reading Plus leverages technology to provide students with effective scaffolded silent reading practice and development in foundational visual perceptual skills that are essential for efficient and effective silent reading.
  2. Student Experience: Instructors learn about the component programs of Reading Plus and what their students will experience from the first time they log in. During the face-to-face training, participants engage in a hands-on mock student session.
  3. Getting Started: Instructors learn about their Reading Plus teacher management interface. They learn how to navigate through the interface, and how to read the student data. They teach teachers what they can do to assist students who are not achieving ongoing success with the program. 
  4. Motivation: Instructors learn about the motivation tools built into the Reading Plus system and what they can do to create a fun and engaging classroom environment for Reading Plus.
  5. Accessing Help: Instructors are told how to access live support via phone, email, or live webinar throughout their Reading Plus implementation. In addition, they receive a tour of the comprehensive Reading Plus Help Site and all the resources it provides. 

Reading Plus delivers reading material in print and online formats for staff training. They capture the basic principles of product function and usage in printed materials. The training materials included new and revised information for administrators, lead teachers, and individual instructors on the use and functionality of the product. In addition, Reading Plus delivers extensive online training and support to instructors and students available on demand. They monitor constantly online resources and develop them to meet the continually changing needs of 21st-century educators. 

Reading Plus has been designed to support schools and teachers by providing easy access to data that helps them monitor student progress and improve teaching practices. It also allows teachers to create customised reports that are tailored to their needs.

For example, if a teacher wants to set goals for students and see which students are making progress towards meeting their reading goal, he/she can use the “Expected Growth Report” feature. This report shows the percentage of students who met their goal, exceeded it, or fell below it. 

Reports include:

• Best Students – A report that shows the top 10% of students based on performance across all subjects. This report is useful when looking for students who need extra attention.

• Class Reports – A report that shows all students in a particular class. This report is useful if you want to see how well a teacher is performing in a class.

• School Reports – A report that lists all students enrolled in a particular school. This report is useful for tracking attendance and identifying students who may need additional support.

• Teacher Reports – A report that displays all teachers in a particular school. Teachers can use this report to identify struggling students and plan interventions accordingly.

Reading Plus tracks all lesson completion dates, lesson formats, reading rates, comprehension results, and time on task.

Conclusion

Reading Plus online reading program develops comprehension, vocabulary level, motivation, and stamina, while also going beyond the offerings of other literacy programs by addressing silent reading proficiency and fluency. This produced changes in student outcomes. It also supports students with diverse needs, including English learners, disadvantaged students, special education, and advanced readers. Reading Plus provides educators with easy-to-use detailed student summary report via management and reporting system, extensive resources to guide differentiated instruction, professional development, and highly rated customer support. The Reading Plus program is used in over 7,800 schools nationally, helping over 1 million students become efficient, confident, lifelong readers.

Research shows that self-confidence, interest in the material, and collaborative reading and writing are just as important in the digital world as they are in the print world. How frequently students work on reading and the intensity of their engagement are the biggest predictors of whether they learn. It’s simple: the kids who read the most grow the fastest.

If you want to support all your students with personalized instruction, help struggling readers with intervention, provide reading growth to English learners, or give teachers actionable data—Reading Plus is what you and your school might look for.