Recognizing and Rewarding Academic Growth for Struggling Readers


“Lexia® Core5® Reading is friendly, yet rigorous, and builds skills and knowledge within our students. The program enables us to fulfill our goal of ‘recognition and reward’ in our school. If Lexia did not recognize growth, I couldn’t do what I do as far as student recognition.”

- Daniel Cook, Principal, Central Elementary School, Macon County School District, TN


Central Elementary School in Macon County was struggling with ELA achievement scores—  students scored “on-track” or “mastered” on 34.3% of ELA assessments, just above the state average of 32.8%1. In addition to improving student literacy gains, Principal Daniel Cook needed a way to recognize and reward students, make small-group center rotations more effective, and use data to drive instruction. It was critical that the program serve the entire student body—both general education and CDC (Comprehensive Development Classroom) students—and that support and implementation services were readily available to ensure teacher success.


Central Elementary, a second- and third-grade school, significantly reshaped its reading program starting fall 2018. Restructuring small-group center rotations, rewriting benchmark assessments, triangulating data, and creating cooperative learning groups were among the improvements—along with the addition of Lexia® Core5® Reading for all students. The school used Title 1 funds to purchase the Core5 licenses, replacing two other literacy programs. “We have made a full reform in literacy,” Instructional Leader Kelly Carnahan said.

Central Elementary has integrated Core5, a research-proven, technology-based literacy program for grades pre-K–5, into every classroom, every day. Students achieve their weekly usage minutes through a combination of center rotations and computer lab time. Core5 delivers easy-to-interpret data reports at the school, classroom, and student level, and scripted, offline Lexia Lessons® to target skill gaps in small-group or individual instruction. Teachers at Central use the Action Plan in myLexia®, the educator dashboard, to easily identify and group students to deliver targeted instruction during center rotations.

As students progress through a series of 18 standards-based levels in six areas of reading, Cook rewards success through a weekly school-wide announcement and photo shoot of students holding their Core5 achievement certificates. “Lexia gives me an opportunity to recognize and reward achievement every week. We call the kids “Level-Up Champs.” Parents love to see their kids being recognized on social media. This allows us to recognize gains in all students, not only our top achievers,” Cook said.

According to Cook, Lexia’s support and implementation services have made the program a worthwhile investment for Central. “Core5 is very simple to set up, friendly to use, and allows me to monitor the students and easily intervene when they’re struggling. The ongoing training and troubleshooting provided by Lexia is great,” Media Specialist/Computer Lab Teacher Leanna Allen said.


  • From fall to winter, Central’s school-wide reading fluency assessments—using both aimsweb and triangulated data from several sources—showed gains. “I think there are a lot of things that contributed, but I would say Lexia played a big part in that success,” Cook said.
  • Of the students meeting their recommended usage, the percentage of students working below grade level in Core5 reduced from 63% to 30% in less than one school year2.
  • Core5 enables all students, including those with special learning needs, to make literacy gains. “I’ve never before felt like we had a program that really included all the students in the building. Even if they just recognize the alphabet, they can participate in the program,” Carnahan said.
  • Students who level completely out of Core5—after mastering fifth-grade material—earn a school parade down the hallway in their honor, creating a culture that celebrates literacy

Sample Core5 Lessons

12017-2018 TN State Report Card
2Students using Core5 who were meeting usage over at least 12 weeks of use (N=364) from 8/9/18-1/26/19