Since Labor Day, BookNook students have logged more than 45,000 sessions of guided reading, reading intervention, and tutoring on our platform, and we couldn’t be more proud of all the hard work they’ve put in–and the resourcefulness we’ve seen from schools and nonprofits as they navigate distance learning.

These students have shown us mastery of specific state standards nearly 15,000 times and gained a collective 1,062 reading levels, all in just 9 weeks. But most exciting of all is what we’re able to see when we analyze the progress students are making as they recover from the learning losses related to Covid-19.

How We Measure Reading Skill Growth

BookNook’s patented technology collects and analyzes data every time students log on, allowing us to understand in real time their strengths and areas for improvement. This progress monitoring is invaluable to educators, helping them to adapt to each student’s unique needs without having to conduct a formal reading assessment every time they want to check up on a struggling reader. 

Having current and actionable assessment data for reading can be difficult for administrators and educators even in the best of times, much more so during the pandemic–so having data that allows for quick adjustments to instruction has proven to be critical in successfully addressing “Covid slide.”

While we track many different metrics that predict student reading proficiency, the one we focus on the most is a student’s independent reading level as it relates to expected grade level, or benchmark. We measure both where a student begins relative to grade level and then the progress they are making while they use BookNook.

Because we are gathering data in real time, we can assess how many months of reading skill growth students are making during each month they use the program. This gives us a universal progress metric across students who have participated in the program for different lengths of time, and who had different gaps to grade level when they began.

Students are Closing Gaps to Grade Level Reading

Looking at a subset of data from our K-3 students who logged at least 10 sessions during this period, a clear picture is emerging that rigorous reading instruction can make a difference, even under the challenging circumstances of distance learning.

On average, we saw students more than doubling the pace of their reading skill growth, going from falling behind during spring and summer, to catching up while using BookNook in the fall.

The result is that students began rapidly catching up to their expected grade level in reading while using BookNook, narrowing the reading opportunity gap. This fall, our average K-3 student began using the app roughly 5 months below grade level in reading, and by mid November that had already reduced that gap to just 1.5 months.

What More Can We Do for Students?

Results like this truly take a village. It starts with determined students, eager to learn, aided by thousands of parents, tutors, caregivers, educators, paraprofessionals, AmeriCorps members, and volunteers. To date, BookNook is now in 34 states with new city and district-wide partnerships blossoming every week, from urban non-profit coalitions in Detroit, MI, to coastal schools across California, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, and Maryland–and almost every state in between. 

While we are encouraged by these results, there is still much more work to do. First and foremost, we hope to see many more students joining the BookNook community, which is why we’ve created free access for individual teachers and parents/guardians here. We also encourage families and educators to check out some of the best practices we’ve written about on our blog, such as how to create a literacy rich environment at home.

But most of all, we all need to stay focused on the importance of reading proficiency for students. The pandemic has created so many needs for children, families and educators. Our data show that with concerted effort and rigorous tools, students can make tremendous gains, so let’s keep making reading the priority that it needs to be to ensure students are successful in school, and in life.