The STRIVE Literacy Program, Texas
Striving for Excellence in Reading
What is STRIVE?
How is STRIVE different?
Why is STRIVE important to Texas?
How does it work?
What results can be expected?
Why STRIVE has been successful
Resources required for STRIVE
Cost of STRIVE
Starting STRIVE in my school
The STRIVE program was developed in 2013 by reading specialist Tiffany James to address the varied developmental literacy needs of the students at The Grammar School at Midland Classical Academy in Midland, Texas. At that time, Midland Classical like most schools, had less than half of their students reaching grade level minimum benchmarks. This is consistent with national statistics. The US Department of Education finds that only 35% of American 4th graders score at or above the proficient level in reading.
We are on a campaign to bring about change and pull the right of literacy out from the depths of where it has fallen in Texas. Our goal is to help transform how children with dyslexia are educated. We believe the STRIVE program is the answer to this.
What is STRIVE?
STRIVE is a multi-tiered, literacy support program utilizing screening, teacher training and systematic intervention for students in K through 2nd grade. The program philosophy is that early identification of individual need enables the provision of appropriate resources facilitating the prevention of reading difficulties.
How is STRIVE different from other programs?
The core of the program is universal screening and strategic teaching. Other programs don’t do this. The learning resources use online technology that brings the benefits of affordability, scalability and an individualized systematic instruction.
STRIVE has consistently shown advanced growth for participating students. As of March 2014, 90% of first graders participating in STRIVE teaching were showing pronounced growth. Some students had gained 9-18 months or more in reading level in four months of instruction and teachers reported seeing 95% improvement in classroom performance of STRIVE students.
100% of parent surveys stated that working with a STRIVE teacher was improving their child’s language or reading skills.
Nessy has provided a much needed resource for our families as it is reaching a broader range of learning styles and developmental levels. The students love the engaging, fun games and aesthetic design of the program. Reading fluency and spelling scores have increased at least 40% across the board in our student population.
– Amy A., Head Administrator of a classical grammar school
Why is STRIVE important to Texas and the nation?
Research conducted by the National Institutes of Health, has determined that approximately 20% of the population has dyslexia. Students with dyslexia require direct, explicit, instruction in phonemic awareness.
Research into Texan education has shown that students are not receiving the help they need. The affordability and easy accessibility of the STRIVE program helps overcome these obstacles.
How does the program work?
The program has three key components – screening, teacher training, and targeted instruction. STRIVE uses the Nessy range of digital resources:
- Screening: Dyslexia Quest screener
- Training:Dyslexia Professional Development
- Instruction: Nessy Reading and Spelling program.
Each Fall, every kindergartner and new first grader is tested to help determine the appropriate level of support. After being screened, students are grouped by instructional need into three tiers of support: intensive, moderate and general curriculum.
Intensive instruction is required by a minority of students (at MCA this was 10%, 5 students out of 50) who are taught 1:1 by a reading specialist with supplemental support from the digital literacy program. STRIVE had success when students had 160 minutes a week (42 minutes a day, five days a week). This was a combination of time at home and school. The 1:1 tuition was a total of one hour a week split into two sessions of 30 minutes.
How to identify students who need intensive instruction.
Those with moderate need join a group of 12 students who follow the Nessy program but this tier of support does not require specialist supervision. STRIVE had success when students had 80 minutes a week split into two sessions of 40 minutes. Additional time can be used at home if parents wished to supplement.
The general curriculum group is usually the largest and is managed by the class teacher. Time learning: STRIVE had success when students had two 40 minutes sessions at school and two 20 minutes sessions set for homework.
Each school educator undergoes a 2 hour, online professional development course that gives them the skills to differentiate in the classroom.
A program coordinator provides fidelity of usage, ensuring students stay on target to achieve the best results. The coordinator will liaise with teaching staff and communicate with parents. They will contact the Nessy technical team to ensure any problems are quickly resolved. This position can be filled by a para-professional, a member of the teaching staff or a reading specialist.
What results can be expected?
After instituting Nessy as part of the STRIVE program the number of Kindergarten children reaching grade level benchmarks increased to 74%. The highest risk group decreased from 22% to 10%.
At the start of the program start only 40% of 1st graders were meeting minimum grade level benchmarks. By the end the number of children reaching grade level benchmarks increased to 64%. The highest risk group decreased from 30% to 10%.
Results over 2.5 years
Students who began using the Nessy program in Kindergarten 2014 have continued to demonstrate progress into 2nd grade 2016. When Nessy was implemented as part of the STRIVE program 51% of these students were meeting grade level benchmarks in Kindergarten (a mean score of 43.1 being the 58th percentile).
Latest results in this ongoing study demonstrate 79% of these students are meeting grade level benchmarks midway through 2nd grade (a mean score of 124.4 being the 89th percentile nationally).
This represents a growth of 31 percentile points placing the students in the top 10% of the nation.
The program has been hugely successful, resulting in a 40% increase of students reaching grade level benchmarks, and more than half of the student body scoring in the top 10% nationally in 2016.
Why has STRIVE been so successful – Prevention not intervention
STRIVE uses a bottom-up approach of prevention rather than the traditional top-down approach of waiting for students to fail before providing an intervention. Key elements for success are a dedicated coordinator to ensure fidelity of use and the universal screening at an early age.
Using the Nessy digital programs the teacher does not need specialist knowledge because the program meets the needs of the majority of the children in the class. Nessy is game-based which is highly motivating to the students and ensures high levels of student participation. The Orton-Gillingham methodology incorporated by the Nessy Reading and Spelling program is a proven, successful approach used to improve the reading and spelling skills of children with dyslexia.
Using an online program like Nessy is a practical and affordable way of dealing with large number of children identified as having dyslexia or other reading difficulties. The average national salary of a specialist trained teacher is $50-60k and number of children they can support is limited to a maximum of 30.
Being an educator of elementary students, I love the Nessy program because it is self-paced and intuitive for each student’s needs. For students with any attention-based memory or recall challenges, who have some gaps in their understanding or memory about the instruction that has been presented to them, Nessy provides a very fun and engaging way to fill in just those needed instructional gaps. I love Nessy, but more importantly, all of our students love Nessy.
– Pam H, Reading Specialist
Resources required by the program
- Program coordinator
- An iPad or laptop computer for each student following the program (usually 12 at a time)
- A subscription to the Nessy Reading and Spelling program for every student through K to 2nd grade.
- An Orton-Gillingham specialist for the intensive tier.
- A subscription to the Dyslexia Quest screening program for every student in Kindergarten.
- A parent volunteer or teaching assistant to manage the moderate tier.
- A classroom teacher to manage those students following the general curriculum.
- A subscription to the Nessy Professional Development program for all teaching staff in K through to 2nd grade.
What does STRIVE cost to implement?
The cost for one student to take the STRIVE program is $60 a year. This covers the screening, training and instructional elements.
How can I start a STRIVE program in my school?
For more information or to speak to one of our team.
Call (432) 210-0236
Or visit the Nessy Reading Center in Midland TX.
Strive Reading is a non-profit organization.
*Results gathered using DIBELS, correlated with the Stanford achievement test (the gold standard for national achievement testing). These are the more assertive DIBELS Next goals recommended by the University of Oregon CTL but many schools continue to use the less demanding the DIBELS 6th edition goals. A percentile represents a comparison to other children across the nation in the same school year at the same time.