Blog Series

I AM MORE than a struggling reader

by Voyager Sopris Learning on Dec 14, 2017

  • Literacy
  • Reading Intervention
  • Struggling Readers

Adolescents who struggle with reading often are reluctant to bring attention to themselves and engage in class. Teachers tell us these students want to learn, but are uncomfortable when asked to read aloud or sound out words in learning groups. Even when placed in reading intervention classes with other struggling students, the challenge is very personal and can be demoralizing. However, with the right intervention, these students—who share the same dreams and aspirations as their grade-level peers—can become more, do more, and achieve more.

71% Read Below Grade Level

With 71 percent of students reading below grade level, administrators at Hernandez Middle School in Round Rock, TX, faced a literacy crisis. Tammyfern Reininger teaches sixth, seventh and eighth grade students at Hernandez who represent a broad spectrum of learning needs—English as a second language, special education, general education, and others. As diverse as their need are, the students all had one thing in common: the need to improve their literacy skills to get to grade level and achieve success throughout their lives.

Principal Mario Acosta arrived at Hernandez Middle School from LBJ High School in Austin, TX, where they had used LANGUAGE!® Live to help struggling readers improve their literacy skills. With more than two thirds of his students at the new school reading below grade level, he knew he had to act fast to help them attain the literacy skills needed to advance academically. Having worked with LANGUAGE! Live before, Acosta knew the benefits of the program. “My favorite thing about LANGUAGE! Live is that it individualizes (learning) for every student. Every student is being helped at the level that they need help,” he said.

A Years’ Worth of Lexile Gains in One Semester

With alternating methods of instruction—teacher-led one day and online, computer-based another day—students were engaged in a dynamic learning environment that included social media elements and peer-to-peer instruction. One sixth grade student, who was reading at a first-grade level when she entered Hernandez, said LANGUAGE! Live not only helped her build reading skills, but helped in all her classes. She was not an exception, Reininger said, “I’ve had kids tell me one on one, ‘Mrs. Reininger, it makes science easier, it makes history easier, because I understand what I’m reading.’” Acosta knew the program was working because he said they saw years’ worth of Lexile® gains in a single semester. School administrators said students not only improved their Lexile scores, they also saw significant improvement in the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness program, STAAR.

Students Experiencing Success

Improvement in state assessments and Lexile scores were not the only measures of success—students experienced personal growth and new-found confidence. From once reluctant, disengaged learners, students at Hernandez discovered they could become more than struggling readers, and began to outwardly voice their dreams and desires:  

        “I can build up my ability to succeed for my future.”
        “Finish school and go to college is my main goal.”
        “Going to college.”
        “I want to study fashion design.”
        “I want to be a doctor.”

“It’s a life-changing experience to see a student who struggled to read become a more fluent reader. I mean, it’s the most powerful thing I’ve ever encountered as an educator,” Acosta said.  



Struggling readers at Hernandez Middle School have been transformed into confident, goal-oriented students who look forward to a bright future. A future where MORE is possible. A future where they are limited only by their imaginations.    

What MORE is possible for your students in the new year?

Visit believeliteracyispossible.com for more information, stories about student success, and helpful resources. Join us as we continue to celebrate the potential in every student.

Missed any of the blogs in our I AM MORE series?
I AM MORE than an English language learner
I AM MORE than a student with dyslexia
Believe Literacy is Possible


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