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Student Reading Scores Drop by Largest Margin in 30 Years: New Breakthrough K-3 Reading Program - Phonics, Reading, and Me™ - Can Address Underperformance

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Recent NAEP Report Highlights Urgency of Effective Instructional Response 

September 2, 2022 – Washington, DC – The Education world was stunned by the results of the recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), showing the largest decline in student reading performance in 30 years.  Considered the gold standard in tracking student progress, the NAEP provides solid, standardized data on what many teachers already knew: the pandemic wiped out decades of educational improvement, with the students most at-risk suffering the greatest losses. Against this background, early childhood learning leader, Learning Without Tears, launched Phonics, Reading, and Me™. This breakthrough supplemental phonics program allows K–3 teachers to identify precise student shortfalls in the literacy skills they need to become proficient and effective readers.   

“The NAEP rightfully set off alarm bells across the country,” explained Learning Without Tears CEO Terry Nealon.  “As a result of the pandemic, student reading performance suffered the largest decline in 30 years. Without mastering foundational literacy skills, student performance can be negatively impacted for years to come.  The gap that has always existed between top- and low-performing students has grown starkly larger, putting the most at-risk students in an even worse position. It is imperative that the drop in reading skills be addressed effectively. Phonics is important in the development of foundational reading skills – and now, with Phonics, Reading, and Me, teachers can more easily reach more students with individualized instruction.”  

Phonics, Reading, and Me comes to market at the right time: when it is most needed, and when it can make the greatest impact on student literacy.  

Teachers: The Most Important Resource 

New technology embedded in Phonics, Reading, and Me allows teachers to maximize their most precious resource: time. Through a partnership with SoapBox Labs which was announced earlier this year at ISTELive 22, Phonics, Reading, and Me leverages unique speech recognition technology to provide digital assessments and give educators a more streamlined and clear view of each student’s reading progress, making it easier to identify gaps and personalize instruction.  This use of technology means teachers can reach more students with a greater focus on individual student progress and personalized instruction.  

Today, teachers have more work to do with more students than ever before. But they also lack the resources and time to allow them to assess, monitor, and individualize reading instruction based on a clear understanding of each student’s needs and progress.  For the first time, with a single program, teachers can differentiate instruction with tailored recommendations for each student, and assess, track, respond and report student reading progress. With embedded professional learning, teachers can easily implement the program and develop reading fluency for each child. 

Informed by the Science of Reading and underpinned by Learning Without Tears’ four decades of successful literacy instruction, Phonics, Reading, and Me has equity and access at its core and the flexibility to provide reading instruction in multiple ways—to a whole class, a small group, or to an individual student.

“With full print and digital integration, Phonics, Reading, and Me was designed to be different—better than legacy early literacy programs,” explained CEO Nealon. “Phonics, Reading, and Me was designed from the ground up to be more easily implemented in the classroom, with embedded support for educators. Learning Without Tears partners with teachers in their students’ success and the improvement of reading scores.”  

Multicriteria text sets in print and digital formats are intentionally developed both for decoding practice and for strengthening knowledge-building. Ultimately, pairing skills and topics gives children the tools to transfer their learning and succeed as readers.   

By incorporating speech recognition technology from SoapBox Labs into Phonics, Reading, and Me, teachers can now use voice-enabled oral reading assessments to know precisely what instruction or support is needed to ensure the literacy success of each child.   

“Differentiated instruction, especially when dealing with early foundational skills like literacy, is absolutely critical for the success of young learners. And after the last two years of lost instructional time, and the results now being reported, there is a deep urgency to help educators do this more easily and quickly,” said Andrew Clute, Vice President of Product and Technology at Learning Without Tears. “As a result of SoapBox’s extensive research and experience in developing speech recognition specifically for kids, we have a powerful new tool to help educators differentiate students’ learning pathways. Their technological breakthroughs mean we can unlock an instructional pathway that wasn’t easily available before, to better serve millions of kids.”  

Lessons within Phonics, Reading, and Me focus on rich texts that provide decoding and skills practice.  All components—student books, lesson cards, digital learning, reading response journals, sound-spelling activities, and formative assessment cards—work together to provide ample opportunities for children to read, talk, and write, all vital steps on the path to successful reading.  A student’s reading success builds by reading more.  

“Research has shown that students spend inadequate time actually reading, with support, during the school day – often as little as 10–20 minutes of a 90- to 120-minute literacy block. And the results are, sadly, being felt,” continued CEO Nealon. “This exceptional curriculum means that teachers no longer must choose between focusing on skills or fostering the type of curiosity that comes from reading great books. With Phonics, Reading, and Me, students build skills and build knowledge while they contribute their own experiences from diverse cultures. The result is an accelerated personalized learning plan that balances instruction and practice, and – most importantly – provides an unprecedented degree of equity and access for all students.”  

More information on Phonics, Reading, and Me can be found here on the company’s website. 

About Learning Without Tears 

Learning Without Tears is a leading early education company offering a proven and unique approach to teaching and learning, from crucial readiness skills in Pre-K to foundational writing and typing skills, including handwriting, keyboarding and cursive. The elementary school-level programs benefit all learners with multisensory, developmentally appropriate, proven practices, and are used by millions of students around the world. Learning Without Tears professional development programs deliver early education expertise to thousands of teachers, tutors, and occupational therapists in the US and across the globe.