Making Reading Gains in a High-Poverty School


Our school used Lexia’s programs in the past, and everyone knew it was of value. There was such a sense of loss among staff when we lost it. Now that we qualified for LAP funds, we’re going to make sure we have it for the long-term.”

Douglas Johnson, Principal, Mountlake Terrace Elementary School, Edmonds School District, WA


In a high-needs, Title 1 school like Mountlake Terrace Elementary School, students enter the system with significant disparities. Some begin kindergarten or first grade with no letter recognition or experience with English; they may not have access to computers or reading material at home, stable housing, or additional support outside of school. Others come armed with pre-literacy skills learned in preschool and jump right into grade-level material or above, according to Principal Douglas Johnson.

In the 2018-2019 school year, Mountlake Terrace Elementary qualified for Learning Assistance Program (LAP) funding available from the state of Washington. LAP is a needs-based program focused on helping all students to meet state standards.

As Johnson and his staff sought to rebuild their Title 1/LAP program, they needed a literacy program that had proven success, aligned with their reading intervention curriculum, engaged students, and was eligible for LAP funding.


Mountlake Terrace Elementary used LAP funds to purchase a three-year site license for Lexia® Core5® Reading, a research-proven, computer-based literacy solution for students of all abilities. Core5 provides explicit, adaptive instruction in six areas of reading, while providing real-time, actionable data to support instructional decisions, as well as offline materials to target students’ skill gaps as they emerge.

Core5 aligns to the ELA Menu of Best Practices and Strategies required for LAP fund usage by the State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Specifically, Core5 identifies students in need of intervention, provides data to make intervention exit decisions, and supports MTSS and Months of Growth reporting. 

Core5 aligns very well with our intervention curriculum by the 95 Percent Group, which is also very specific and focuses on discrete skills,” said Jennifer Mackler, a Title 1/LAP reading intervention teacher. “The fact that Core5 targets specific areas of need is a huge advantage to the program. Kids are working exactly at their skill level.”

The school had used Lexia’s reading programs on and off for more than 11 years, but struggled to find long-term funding. “Everyone knew it was of value,” Johnson said. “There was such a sense of loss among staff when we lost it.”

For the past several years, individual teachers used grant money and funding from the PTO to purchase Core5 for kindergarten and first-grade students— but the staff and administration still sought a school-wide solution.

This year, LAP funds enabled Mountlake Terrace Elementary to secure three years of access school-wide, and to spend leftover funds in the spring to purchase another three-year sitewide license. “We’re going to make sure we have it for the long-term,” Johnson said. “It’s important that we have the resources to help each child grow.”


  • Of students meeting their recommended usage, the percentage of students working in or above grade level in Core5 rose dramatically from 67% to 95% in less than one school year.1
  • Core5 is a key part of our system at this point,” Johnson said. “It’s a seamless component. Teachers integrate Core5 into their daily reading workshops and small-group instruction. The teachers know students are getting exactly what they need, and they’re able to monitor each child’s progress and identify re-teaching opportunities.”
  • It’s a great motivator for those kids who struggle with attention and behavioral issues. They feel confident about it and they enjoy doing it,” Mackler said.
  • “It’s been a really powerful tool for us. We’ve been really impressed with the results that we’re getting with our students across the grade levels,” Mackler said. “It’s reinforcing, and in some cases pre-teaching, phonics and phonological awareness lessons teachers are doing in class and during intervention.” 

Sample Core5 Lessons

1Lexia Learning, 8/2/2018-3/23/2019 for K-5 students who used Core5 for at least 16 weeks with fidelity