During the 2017–2018 school year, a study conducted in a large Texas school district found that, on average, students who used Imagine Language & Literacy, an instructional software program designed to build language and literacy skills, had higher growth on NWEA MAP scores than students who did not use the program. Approximately 8,800 Kindergarten through fifth grade students used the supplemental reading program for the study, each averaging eleven hours of program usage throughout the school year.
On average, students from all grades who used the Imagine Language & Literacy program enjoyed greater RIT growth than non-users. These results support the role of Imagine Language & Literacy as a supplementary tool for the development of language and literacy skills. Other students who use the program on a regular basis could expect to experience consistent improvements in language and literacy proficiency, similar to the results of this study.
Additionally, the results of the study were reinforced when statistically matched groups were used to determine the impact of the program. A technique called propensity score matching was used to statistically match each program user to a highly similar non-user based on demographic and other descriptive information. Average Spring NWEA MAP scores are then compared using these matched groups of users and non-users.
“It’s a good quantitative way to make sure we’re comparing apples to apples, not apples to oranges,” described Nate Fontanet, Data Analyst at Imagine Learning. Using this methodology, the user group was found to have significantly higher growth than the non-user group. “Utilizing propensity score matching increases study validity; it makes for a fairer comparison between users and non-users by representing them in a more non-biased way,” explained Drew Berrett, Education Research Analyst at Imagine Learning.
The study also found a positive and significant relationship between growth on NWEA RIT scores and time spent on Imagine Language & Literacy as well as lessons passed after controlling for fall NWEA RIT scores, EL (English learner) status, Special Educational status, and gifted student status. “This indicates that the more time a student spends on the program, the more positive growth they should expect on their NWEA RIT scores after controlling for pertinent variables like fall NWEA RIT scores,” stated Fontanet.
Research indicates that computer-assisted instruction can positively impact students’ performance in language and literacy development (Cassady & Smith, 2005; Cheung & Slavin, 2011; Macaruso & Rodman, 2011). Imagine Language & Literacy is specifically designed to build language and literacy skills for students in pre-K through sixth grade, and for English Language Learner (ELL) students in pre-K through eighth grade. Imagine Language & Literacy features instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, grammar, and language development–both academic and conversational.