Chicago International Charter School (CICS) Irving Park, IL, A Distinctive Schools Campus

Growth Mindset Helps CICS Irving Park Thrive
DOwnload case study

“Core5 will change your classroom culture. It builds excitement about reading, engages students and gives teachers more time for dedicated small group instruction.”
- Meaghan Rohan, Third-Grade Teacher, CICS Irving Park, IL


Chicago International Charter School (CICS) was founded on the belief that every child has the right to a high-quality education. Distinctive Schools, a non profit educational management organization assumed management of the CICS Irving Park campus in 2011. Leaders wanted to create a learning process that would increase student engagement and student buy in. They determined that personalized learning and helping students to develop a growth mindset were key elements of providing an education that would inspire their students and empower them to take ownership of their learning.

As a result, when the administration started looking for a technology-based literacy program, they wanted a program that would adapt to each student’s skill level, give students the chance to try again when they make mistakes, and provide them with the opportunity to self-direct their learning paths.



“We ran pilots with three different literacy products. Our students were, by far, the most engaged with Lexia® Core5® Reading,” remarked Director of CICS Irving Park, J.W. Kuebler. CICS Irving Park ran a year-long pilot with Core5 in grades three and four and the success of that pilot quickly led them to expand the use of Core5 to all students in grades K–5.

In addition to finding Core5 to be the most engaging technology-based program for their students, they saw that Core5 was the best choice to support the development of a growth mindset in their students in numerous ways.

To develop a growth mindset—a love of learning and a resilience to keep trying when challenges appear—required a literacy program that not only adapted to students’ individual ability levels and engaged them, but would challenge them with personalized material, give them opportunities to take learning risks and provide them the support they need to learn and try again. CICS Irving Park students would also need to receive continuous feedback on their efforts and the progress they were making in order to work with their teachers to set appropriate goals for themselves.

CICS Irving Park second-grade teacher Samantha Parrish commented, “I share Core5’s progress monitoring data with each of my students on an ongoing basis. I explain to them that completing certain levels by the end of second grade means they are on track with grade-level expectations. After I showed one of my students some of the graphs and reviewed his goals with him, he met his end-of-year goal within two weeks and he wanted to keep going.”

CICS Irving Park teachers use Core5’s data to quickly and effectively prioritize and group students for teacher-led instruction. “It is definitely a tool that helps our teachers differentiate their instruction,” commented Kuebler. The program alerts the teacher when students continuously struggle, so while on-target and advanced students work independently and continue to challenge themselves with new activities, the teacher can work directly and strategically with students who are struggling.



During the 2016-2017 school year, students who met their recommended usage of Core5 made meaningful progress. The percent of students working in or above grade level in Core5 more than doubled from 42% to 86%.1

Persevering through challenges is key to a growth mindset. “I have seen my students really struggle with some of the concepts they come across in Core5,” commented Parrish. “However, the way Core5 scaffolds and provides explicit instruction on the lessons while following a predictable pattern has helped them find success. Using their growth mindset, the students understand that, although the lesson is challenging at first, with the right support and applying their own effort, they will succeed.”

When students finish with their Core5 session at CICS Irving Park, they are required to record the number of minutes they spent on the program, the units they passed, what they did well, and something that they struggled with and how they overcame that challenge. This helps them become aware of what they are learning in the program, how they are problem solving for themselves and the value of perseverance.

Meaghan Rohan, third-grade teacher at CICS Irving Park commented, “Lexia Core5 Reading will change your classroom culture. Core5 builds excitement about reading, engages students and gives teachers more time for dedicated small group instruction. With Lexia Core5 Reading, we celebrate challenges and gains each day!”  

Try Core5 Student Lessons

1Students meeting recommended minutes (N=334) in Core5 at least 50% of the time over at least 20 weeks, 8/4/2016-6/4/2017