Lexia Learning is one of the best-known and most highly respected reading technology companies in the world. Headquartered in Concord, Massachusetts, Lexia was founded 28 years ago with private funding and grants obtained from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Today, the company maintains a keen focus on its promise to improve student literacy through the use of technology, and has helped millions of students build reading skills. In 2008, EdNET recognized Lexia Learning with its “EdNET Impact Award,” given to the company making the most important contributions in the education industry through products and services.
Lexia: A Technology-Based Approach to Reading Instruction
Designed as an essential component of every reading curriculum, Lexia Core5 Reading provides explicit, systematic, personalized learning on foundational reading skills, and delivers norm-referenced performance data without interrupting the flow of instruction to administer a test. This scalable, research-proven, technology-based system predicts students’ year-end performance and provides teachers data-driven action plans to help differentiate instruction. Lexia Core5 Reading advances reading skills development for all students pre–K through grade five, and Lexia Strategies, Lexia's program for older students, helps intensify and accelerate learning for at-risk students in grades 6–12.
Lexia Core5 Reading follows the proven approach recommended by the National Reading Panel, Reading First and leading experts. Students learn skills in sequence, logically building an understanding, while gaining competency and preparing for the next skill. Lexia’s Assessment Without Testing technology determines each student’s skill level and rate of progress, predicts their chance of reaching end-of-year benchmarks and prescribes the instructional intensity to improve performance on grade-level assessments.
All of Lexia’s products are designed according to the latest scientific findings in education and interface design, and are tested for outcomes in schools. Lexia has self-funded much of its own research and maintains a substantial national database of student performance data. Additional research funding from state and federal agencies including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Scientifically based, peer-reviewed studies evaluating Lexia products have shown their effectiveness with multi-ethnic populations in Texas, Massachusetts, Utah, Connecticut and the United Kingdom. The use of Lexia software supported achievement gains by study groups that proved to be significantly superior to those achieved by control groups receiving equal amounts of traditional instruction and practice.
When Bob Lemire founded Lexia Learning Systems in 1984, it was a personal mission. Bob wasn’t a reading specialist or researcher. He wasn’t looking for a new career; he was already a well-respected investment advisor and land-use consultant. But what Bob Lemire did have was a son diagnosed with dyslexia.
Lemire’s son, Bo, was a smart, well-behaved student in kindergarten through 3rd grade. But when he reached 4th grade, Bo wasn’t performing as well. His teachers became frustrated and so did Bo. Everyone told him to pay more attention, to work harder and to concentrate more, but Bo was already doing all those things.
In search of an answer, Lemire took Bo to his friend Dr. Edwin Cole’s house. Cole was a noted neurologist and head of the Reading Clinic at the Massachusetts General Hospital as well as the founder of several schools for dyslexics. He had been a long time colleague of Dr. Samuel T. Orton and Anna Gillingham, principal creators of the respected reading system that carries their name.
After testing, Bo was diagnosed as developmentally dyslexic and in need of Orton-Gillingham tutoring. Lemire says he and his wife, Ginny, were heartened by the diagnosis, “Finally, we knew what the problem was, and we were able to explain it to Bo. He no longer saw himself as its cause and knew that with help he would overcome it.”
Bo received 1-on-1 tutoring and shortly thereafter he was the lead in a Christmas play. Bo’s battle wasn’t over, but he was doing well again. Bo also benefited from 2 year’s of schooling at the Greenwood School, a small private Vermont school for dyslexic boys. Lemire had been moved by his son’s success in overcoming his reading difficulties, but realized along the way that many other children had reading difficulties and most of them did not have the resources and guidance his family had to help Bo.
Lemire and Dr. Cole began to discuss the issue with neighbor Dr. Littleton Meeks, an expert in technology. Despite the fact that computers were still in their infancy, the 3 decided to organize a company that would use computer technology to create skill development software programs that could reach all types of students experiencing reading difficulties at a low cost.
The new company was able to get started with modest financing, including 2 grants obtained by Dr. Meeks from the National Institutes of Health and Child Development. Although it was clear to the founders that computer-assisted reading and assessment programs were efficacious, it took many more years and resources to develop a product with the correct scope and sequencing. Lexia struggled to find private ways and funds to continue the development effort.
“Times were tough but when you get touched by something, you respond,” says Lemire. “When your boy is suffering and someone comes along and makes him whole, you say ‘wow’ and then you think ‘is there any way to bring this to other people.’ Once you are a steward of something as hopeful and promising as Lexia’s approach to reading, you just can’t quit.”
Lexia Learning now helps students of all abilities master foundational reading skills. In 2013, Lexia was acquired by Rosetta Stone.