Somerset Academy Miramar — Broward County Public Charter Schools, FL
Somerset Academy Miramar Achieves Substantial Student Growth in Literacy
“When we started using Core5, we immediately saw how effective it was. We found ourselves saying, ‘Oh, wow, this is so different— this program really works!”
- Alexandra Prieto, Principal, Somerset Academy Miramar, FL
“Year after year, we had been looking for a resource to improve reading among our students in grades 1 and 2,” remarked Alexandra Prieto, Principal, Somerset Academy Miramar. Somerset had been using a technology-based literacy program, but Prieto was unhappy with the results. It was clear it was time to look for an alternative.
With a large population of ELL (English Language Learner) students and students who were economically disadvantaged, students’ literacy skills varied greatly. Somerset needed a comprehensive technology-based literacy program that would engage students and enable teachers to differentiate their instruction using real-time data that was reliable, actionable and easy to interpret. Reading Coach Michelle Rojas was tasked with researching and evaluating possible solutions. She looked for a program that would meet Somerset’s high standards— one that was research-proven, not just research-based.
Rojas required a program that included a comprehensive implementation plan with solid training that would empower teachers and administrators to use the program with fidelity. As Prieto states, “There’s no way of knowing at the end of the school year if the program has been beneficial if we’re not using it with fidelity.”
In exploring her options, Rojas was impressed with the depth and research behind Lexia Reading Core5®. Core5 stood out as a rigorously researched, independently evaluated, and respected reading program; one that systematically and explicitly develops and accelerates critical fundamental literacy skills in students in grades pre-K–5. This inspired Rojas to take a closer look.
Her research and evaluation found that schools using Core5 valued the program’s ability to engage and motivate students making them eager to learn. The program’s ease of use would be incredibly valuable to her busy teachers. In addition, the specificity of Core5’s real-time progress monitoring data would help teachers drive and differentiate their instruction.
Rojas appreciated that Core5 went even further than most programs in its support of ELL students by delivering oral instructions in many of the students’ first languages. With a quarter of Somerset’s students being ELL students, this was a critical component to the program. Impressed with everything Core5 offers, Rojas made her official recommendation to purchase Lexia Reading Core5.
Core5’s positive impact was noticeable from the beginning. “When we started using Core5, we immediately saw how effective it was,” remarked Prieto. “We found ourselves saying, ‘Oh, wow, this is so different—this program really works!’”
Somerset second-grade teacher Esther Mesa feels the program is effective due to its depth and structure. “Core5 helps teachers target specific areas in literacy in which our students need guidance. The progress-monitoring data serves as a powerful tool to communicate with not only students, but with teachers and parents as well. Core5 delivers rigorous instruction at the appropriate level for each student to help build phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency and comprehension skills. In addition, the program offers teachers scripted lessons for students who struggle and reinforcement activities for students to practice newly acquired skills. It is a very structured approach to learning and we have seen improvement in our students’ reading skills when the program is used with fidelity.”
Students in grades K–2 meeting usage achieved substantial growth.1 The percent of students working in or above grade level in Core5 increased from 48% to 95% in less than one school year. Even more impressive, the number of students working below their grade level in Core5 reduced from 52% to 5% (see Figure 1).
Jessica Largaespada, first-grade teacher at Somerset, believes Core5’s ability to engage students and the program’s offline instructional resources are key to its positive impact. “Core5 succeeds because it provides targeted reading activities for students to work through in a fun and interactive way. Students enjoy learning and are eager to move on to the next level. Teachers also have access to student reports, resources and lessons to help students in areas where they need further assistance.”
When evaluating the effectiveness of a program, Prieto reviews the data and feedback from her teachers. “Our student growth in Core5 is strong and the feedback I’ve received from teachers is positive. Core5 is a program we will continue using,” she remarked. “The service we received from Lexia’s implementation team and their continued support have been absolutely excellent,” stated Rojas. “There are so many reasons why we love Lexia, but the most important one of all is the growth we see in our students. There’s nothing more important than that.”
1Students meeting recommended usage (N=440) at least 50% the time with at least 12 weeks of use between 8/25/2016 and 4/30/2017