Vocabulary.com is paying off for schools around the country that are looking to make concrete gains in boosting student literacy. Our Success Stories showcase the vocabulary achievements that students and educators are experiencing.

When Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, MD used Vocabulary.com to improve its lexile scores, their success inspired a district-wide adoption among Title 1 schools to achieve literacy goals.

CHALLENGE: Low reading scores demand drastic action to improve student vocabulary skills.

In May 2014, Buck Lodge Middle School's scores on the Scholastic Reading Inventory test were among the lowest in Prince George's County. Teachers knew they had to take action. "All teachers – every science, math, arts teacher was saying, 'The kids just can't understand the words,'" recalled Dawn Martin-Henry, Reading/English Language Arts Department Chair.

When Buck Lodge teachers returned to school in the fall they knew they had to act swiftly and set an aggressive goal to raise lexile scores for all students a minimum of 50 points. They developed a vocabulary intervention plan to make sure students got there.

Download this
Success Story:

SOLUTION: Vocabulary.com implemented in ELA classrooms.

Vocabulary.com was introduced into all Reading/English Language Arts classrooms over the course of the 2014-2015 school year, using the following guidelines.

  • Reading/ELA teachers set up classes, created lists for students, and assigned the lists to students to learn. Using the Vocabulary.com Educator Edition, they tracked students' progress on lists, identifed trouble words, and translated performance into grades.

  • Following Vocabulary.com best practices, teachers incentivized and celebrated students' word learning success inside Reading/ELA classrooms and schoolwide, including prizes for top word learners, and celebrations of student achievement.

RESULTS: Out-of-the-park reading gains.

Not only did Buck Lodge meet its target goal of across-the-board 50-point lexile gain, students far exceeded it. After four months of using Vocabulary.com, average test scores had increased by 98 points for 7th graders. On an individual level, 68% of 7th graders had reached the goal of the 50-point increase, with 32% increasing their scores by 150 points or more.

CONCLUSION: Expanding district-wide to all Title 1 middle schools

Based on the success of Buck Lodge, Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS) has adopted the Vocabulary.com Educator Edition for all 5th-grade students in 58 Title 1 elementary schools, as well as all 6th-8th grade students in 11 Title 1 middle schools (a total of 17,000 students).

"We were very impressed with the innovation and initiative that Buck Lodge took to actually start utilizing Vocabulary.com," said Dr. Debra Mahone, Director of State and Federal Programs for PGCPS. "The fact they were able to access it so easily was a selling point and certainly communicated the value of the product."

Buck Lodge teachers Catherine Yi, Bianca Borkman, Tyanne Wilson,
Kim Lambert, and Bonnie Hyde are getting the most out of Vocabulary.com.

The adoption of Vocabulary.com fit the district's literacy goals as part of the Promise of PGCPS for all students to be college-ready and career-ready. "We found Vocabulary.com had a unique fit for our rigorous literacy program and our vision for the goals of the district. As a way to improve SAT scores and scores on advance placement tests, and to improve overall student achievement, it was a natural fit for us," Dr. Mahone said. "And the pricing was affordable."

This Success Story is also available in a PDF version. If you are a teacher or administrator and would like to explore the Vocabulary.com Educator Edition, have your school or district sign up for a free trial.