Research & Measurable Results

Research proves Essential Skills software products improve test scores. See the results for yourself…

We have been helping to ensure students have a solid foundation in the basics for over 15 years. There are more than 100,000 Essential Skills programs being used in over 20,000 schools throughout North America. In an industry where so many companies and products come and go, how has Essential Skills managed to build such a strong grassroots following with educators over the past decade? It's simple – our products produce results!

Classroom Based Research

Real Classrooms, Real Results - A number of educators have conducted their own studies of the effectiveness of Essential Skills software - See the results.

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Helping Children Learn to Read

by John R. Kirby Ph.D. - This report evaluates the programs from Essential Skills in the context of current research on the most effective methods of teaching children to read.

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Improving Test Scores at Webster Elementary

A Lighthouse School - "Essential Skills Software has played a vital role in the improved achievement of the reading lab students at Webster School."

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Effect of Essential Skills Software

A Masters Thesis by Christine Koch - "The purpose of the study was to investigate the effect of using a software program on standardized testing achievement."

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Results at a glance (Download PDF)

The following provides a sampling of results that have been achieved by schools using Essential Skills. Please see the ‘Classroom Based Research' section above for more results.

Phonemic Awareness

This chart reflects DIBELS testing results for initial consonant sound recognition prior to working with the Essential Skills Super Phonics program and then again six months later. The students used the program once a week for 30 minutes during the September to March time frame.

The results indicate tremendous growth during the six month trial period with an average DIBLES score increase of 37.36 percent.

Super Phonics was the only program that was used and the students received no other instruction for initial sound recognition.

Phoneme identification, or letter sound recognition, is widely considered to be the cornerstone of teaching children to read. The U.S. National Reading Panel report: Teaching Children to Read, identifies phonemic awareness (understanding that spoken words are composed of tiny sound segments or phonemes) as the first of five key components of an effective reading program. The report also states that the

"...use of computers yielded significant effects for teaching phonemic awareness and its transfer to reading."

Word Recognition

The accompanying chart includes pre-test and post-test data collected during a two month study conducted regarding the effectiveness of the Essential Skills Sight Words program. Twenty-eight students from two first grade classes were administered a word recognition test for 300 words included in the Sight Words program. The students then used Sight Words three times a week for 30 minutes for a period of two months. At the conclusion of the two month trial, students were administered a post-test for the same 300 words.

The results of the study indicated an average increase of 20 percent in word recognition, with nearly half of the students exhibiting an increase of 25 percent or greater. Eight out of the twenty-eight students showed improvements of greater than 30 percentile points. One student (*) in particular demonstrated increased word recognition of 37.41 percent. Given that Essential Skills Sight Words was the only program administered during this period, these results are a clear indication of the program's effectiveness for improving word recognition skills.

Word recognition is fundamental in developing reading fluency—one of the five essential components of reading instruction as identified by the National Reading Panel.

We have seen a marked improvement in our students' reading and comprehension performance. Our test score results have improved dramatically! These significant improvements can be attributed to Essential Skills because our students use these programs every day.

Dr. Linda Hunt, Principal, Charles Churn
Christian Academy, Brooklyn, NY

Numeracy

The following data was collected during a nine month trial involving 17 first grade students and the use of the Essential Skills Mastering Numeration program.

Students used the Mastering Numeration program for 25 minutes, twice a week. Results were gathered from three pre-tests administered in August that were then compared against three post-tests given in May. The cumulative test covers the entire first grade math curriculum. The addition and subtraction tests are assessments of these basic math facts.

The subject class average on the cumulative test went from 62% to 91%, with averages for addition and subtraction facts increasing respectively from 12% to 50% and 6% to 31%. These results indicate significant gains in all areas assessed with an overall increase of 30.6% across the board. The most substantial gains were made in basic addition facts where students gained an impressive 38%. These percentage gains are well above what could be expected from regular classroom instruction alone.

In addition to the considerable academic gains demonstrated by the subject class, it was also noted that the students were always very eager to work with the Mastering Numeration program.

We used the Essential Skills math programs in our Grade 4 after school tutoring program. Our tutoring program required pre and post-testing. We saw improved scores and in some cases dramatically improved scores at the conclusion of this program.

Beth Perry, Instructional Technology Resource Teacher,
Richmond County Schools

Cumulative

Addition

Student Instructional Level (Sept) Instructional Level (Dec) Growth
Girl 1
Oral
Silent

Primer
Pre-Primer

Level 2
Level 3

2 Levels
4 Levels
Girl 2
Oral
Silent

Level 1
Level 1

Level 2
Level 3

1 Level
2 Levels
Girl 3
Oral
Silent

Level 1
Pre-Primer

Level 3
Level 2

2 Levels
3 Levels
Boy 1
Oral
Silent

Pre-Primer
Pre-Primer

Level 2
Level 2

3 Levels
3 Levels
Boy 2
Oral
Silent

Pre-Primer
Pre-Primer

Level 2
Level 1

3 Levels
2 Levels
Boy 3
Oral
Silent

Pre-Primer
Level 1

Level 1
Level 2

2 Levels
1 Levels

Reading Comprehension

In this study a target group of second grade students was administered the Ekwall-Shanker Reading Inventory, a research-based and clinically verified reading inventory used to assess a wide range of students' reading abilities.

The assessment was given as a pre-test in early September and again as a post-test following a ten week period utilizing Essential Skills Reading Comprehension software. Students worked on Essential Skills for thirty minutes a day during the ten week period.

Students progressed an average of 2.16 levels in oral reading and 2.5 levels in silent reading in only ten weeks. The levels of the Ekwall-Shanker Inventory are very close in equivalence to grade levels, making the results of this study particularly exciting.

We have had eight years of sustained growth in our AYP/API results and the Reading Comprehension programs from Essential Skills have definitely played a role in that growth.

Randy Helvey, Teacher
Park Avenue Elementary

Special Education

The below chart illustrates the performance gains demonstrated by 12 exceptional education students in grades K to 4. The data was gathered during the course of an eight month trial during which time students used the Essential Skills Phonemic Awareness program three times a week for approximately 15 minutes per session.

Each student was administered the STAR Early Literacy Test in August and again the following April. The subject group demonstrated an average of 27 points gained in the area of phonemic awareness.

Essential Skills software has been instrumental in the educational progress of the Special Needs students at Webster School. The progress these students have made as a result of using these programs is nothing short of miraculous! Essential Skills programs have provided the means for these students to progress at their own rate and to develop to the best of their abilities. No one ever dreamed that these students would progress as far as they have, but with the Essential Skills programs it has happened – they are readers!

Wendy Woods, Reading Lab
Webster Elementary
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