K–3 students show improvement in early literacy, but readiness has yet to match pre-pandemic levels

Beginning-of-year data from mCLASS demonstrates continued positive trends, but large percentage of students still starting the year needing intensive early literacy intervention

BROOKLYN, NY (November 9, 2023) — ˰app, a publisher of next-generation curriculum and assessment programs, released a research brief about national beginning-of-school-year (BOY) reading data today. Elementary school students are progressing toward early literacy levels that predate the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest data show more students across grades K–3 performing at levels on track for learning to read and ready for core instruction.

Measurable disparities in achievement between Black and Hispanic students and their Asian and white peers remain significant, but have narrowed in kindergarten and grade 1 since 2021–22. Among kindergarteners, the most recent data (2023–24) show increases of 12 percentage points for Black students and 13 percentage points for Hispanic students who are on track for learning to read. In first grade, the data show increases of 11 percentage points for Black students and 10 percentage points for Hispanic students who are on track for learning to read.

Despite the increase in the percentage of students on track, only half of K–3 students are prepared to read at grade level at the start of the school year, with 30 to 40 percent beginning the year needing intensive early literacy intervention. Students starting first, second, and third grade in 2023 are performing worse than their counterparts from 2019, the last academic year before the pandemic, while kindergarteners outperform their peers from the fall of 2019.

“The earliest grades are the most critical time for literacy development,” says Susan Lambert, chief academic officer of elementary humanities at ˰app. “Educators need data from BOY assessments to develop plans and allocate resources for students who are most at risk for not learning to read.”

Research-based reading instruction reduces the need for intervention and enables children to progress as capable, confident learners. Educators serving all students, and especially students in grades K–3 first learning to read, need data-driven insights into reading development, instructional practices based on the Science of Reading, and support helping students who require more targeted instruction and intervention to catch up.

The report compares mCLASS® with DIBELS® 8th Edition benchmark data from the 2019–20, 2020–21, 2021–22, 2022–23 and 2023–24 school years. From more than 2 million students assessed with mCLASS, approximately 200,000 students in a matched set of 1,400 schools in 43 states are represented. The schools in the source data are slightly more likely to be in large urban metropolitan areas than the nation overall.

The data was collected using the mCLASS platform, which automates the data collection of Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS). DIBELS is a widely-used series of short tests developed by the University of Oregon that assess K–8 literacy. DIBELS is an observational assessment collected by teachers interacting with students one-on-one, either live or over video. DIBELS is typically administered three times a year (beginning, middle and end of year) and is used to identify reading difficulty, monitor progress, and inform instruction, especially for struggling readers.

About ˰app
A pioneer in K–12 education since 2000, ˰app is leading the way in next-generation curriculum and assessment. Our captivating core and supplemental programs in literacy, math, and science engage all students in rigorous learning and inspire them to think deeply, creatively, and for themselves. Our formative assessment products turn data into practical instructional support to help all students build a strong foundation in early reading and math. All of our programs provide teachers with powerful tools that help them understand and respond to the needs of every student. Today, ˰app reaches more than 15 million students in all 50 states. To learn more, visit amplify.com.

Media Contact
Kristine Frech

More news

A woman and a young boy look at a tablet together with expressions of surprise and engagement.

New study provides evidence that assessing multilingual students in their home languages can improve educational outcomes

Due to the changing demographics in the United States public school population, bilingual literacy assessments are essential for accurately evaluating multilingual students’ reading abilities

Read more
Two students, one using a laptop and the other writing in a notebook, smiling and working together in a classroom.

˰app announces acquisition of assessment provider Math ANEX

Math ANEX will become a key feature of ˰app’s mCLASS Math assessment product 

Read more
See all news