Study Type: Correlational Study
Principal Investigator: TNTP, ReadWorks
Project Description: This reports on a retrospective correlational study of more than three million students in kindergarten through 12th grade who accessed the ReadWorks free online library of nonfiction passages and associated question sets from the 2018-19 through the 2020-21 school years. The sample is comprised of a subset of students in the ReadWorks database who had attempted at least 10 assignments in classes with at least 10 other students in a given school year. Researchers describe trends in teachers’ assignments of below- and at-grade-level reading passages and question sets, student performance on those question sets, and the relation between assignments, performance, and various demographic characteristics.
Key Findings: Students on the ReadWorks platform spent about a third of their time engaging with below-grade-level texts and question sets, and received five percentage points more below-grade-level content in the first full year after the pandemic. Students were just as successful on grade-level work as they were on below-grade-level work. Students answered nearly two-thirds of questions on the platform correctly regardless of whether they were engaging with grade-level or below-grade-level texts and question sets.
Students in schools serving more historically marginalized communities—particularly students experiencing poverty—were assigned the most below-grade-level work. Students in schools serving the most students in poverty spent about 65 percent more time on below-grade-level texts and question sets than their peers in the most affluent schools. About a quarter of students spent most of their time on below-grade-level work for the entire school year.
In schools serving more students in poverty, students got less access to grade-level work even when they’d already shown they can master it. Students in these schools who consistently succeeded on grade-level texts and question sets got less access to grade-level work in the future than students in more affluent schools who hadn’t mastered grade-level texts and question sets.
Study Citation: TNTP and ReadWorks. Unlocking Acceleration: How Below-Grade Level Work is Holding Students Back in Literacy, 2022. Retrieved from https://tntp.org/assets/documents/Unlocking_Acceleration_8.16.22.pdf.
Full report here.
The Key Findings above were reproduced from the published report and do not necessarily reflect interpretation of Overdeck Family Foundation staff.