The results of BookNook’s 2016-17 school pilots are in, and they show that our platform is making a difference in young readers’ lives.
With schools back in session in most of the country, teachers are beginning the annual ritual of assessing students’ reading levels. There are few pieces of information that are more important in determining how best to teach to students than understanding where they are with their reading. Unfortunately students—particularly students of color and economically disadvantaged students—tend to move backwards over the summer.
We can confidently predict what teachers will find: in the average American classroom, most students will not be reading at grade level. National statistics have been more or less stuck for over 20 years, showing that the majority of fourth and eighth graders aren’t reading at a proficient level, with a particular spike among students in traditionally disenfranchised communities.
After our first year of piloting BookNook as a school year intervention, we are excited to report that we have a solution that appears to significantly help students get back on track. We began with 6 partners in the San Francisco Bay Area in late October, and expanded to 22 in February/March, adding partners in Dallas and Atlanta. Even working across just a fraction of the school year, we were very excited by the results we saw by June.
Sara Shenkan-Rich, principal of Alvarado Elementary School in the San Francisco Unified School District was among our first 6 BookNook adopters. She had this to say:
“Success is about more than just test scores. It’s about seeing the kinds of holistic gains BookNook generated for our students. Those kids weren’t just reading better, they were reading with more engagement and excitement.”
These results demonstrate that with the right tools, anyone can do a great job teaching reading. Whether you’re a teacher, a paraprofessional, a parent, or even another student, we believe this data shows that BookNook is a powerful tool to help kids master reading.
While this analysis comes from a relatively small sample size, it’s evidence that we have something new that seems to be working for students. Our advisor and nationally renowned expert in early reading P. David Pearson, former Dean of the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley, put it this way:
“BookNook is a very promising new technology that is aligned with research on advancing reading development. These early results are quite encouraging.”
In the coming school year, we expect to more than triple the number of our partners and to expand to Chicago, Denver, Houston, New York, and Washington, DC. In addition to schools, we are also launching pilot partnerships with other community institutions such as public housing agencies and Boys & Girls Clubs.
We hope this new data will offer a potential solution as educators and program leaders get back into the school year rhythm, and start thinking about how we can all better support struggling readers.