We've always believed that Vocabulary.com is effective in improving literacy skills beyond just teaching words. That's why we're so excited to finally have the research to back it up.
A landmark study recently completed by Project Tomorrow, the internationally recognized education nonprofit organization, found that students whose teachers used Vocabulary.com in the classroom had significantly higher achievement scores and experienced substantially more growth on state standardized ELA tests than students whose teachers did not use the platform.
Utilizing a secondary data analysis methodology, Project Tomorrow examined achievement score data from four middle schools in Broward County Public Schools, one of the nation's largest school districts. Researchers looked specifically at the change on the Florida Standard Assessment (FSA) ELA test for the same students over a two-year period.
The research established these key findings:
– Across grades 7 and 8, students whose teachers used Vocabulary.com with fidelity showed almost double the year-over-year increase in ELA test scores as compared to those who did not use the platform.
– Additionally, students whose teachers regularly used Vocabulary.com achieved higher mean scaled FSA ELA test scores than their peers who did not regularly use the platform.
– This pattern was consistent when the student data was disaggregated for African-American and Hispanic/Latinx students.
Dr. Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, put these findings into context, describing the tremendous impact of vocabulary acquisition on students' long-term success in school and beyond. Dr. Evans stated, "The development of a strong foundation in vocabulary is inherently tied to students' abilities to scale their learning to higher levels. This has important ramifications for K-12 schools focused on closing the achievement gaps within their student population. Research indicates that students with stronger vocabulary are more comfortable building connections between academic concepts and leveraging those connections to expand their reservoir of words and knowledge. Students with less robust vocabulary have more difficulties closing that aspect of the achievement gap because they do not have the word scaffolding to do it on their own. Therefore, the closing of the 'vocabulary gap' as described is as much about leveling the academic playing field as it is about preparing students with college and career ready skills."
Project Tomorrow also conducted a more in-depth case study on Broward's Margate Middle School, which shows how Vocabulary.com usage across different content areas can have even more of an effect. In those classrooms where Vocabulary.com has become deeply embedded in instructional practices and the culture of learning, students who used the platform saw twice the improvement on FSA ELA scores as those that did not.
Margate Principal Earnest Toliver spearheaded the school's implementation of Vocabulary.com in response to lagging student performance data. "When I first got here several years ago, vocabulary was one of our biggest concerns," explained Toliver. "So we brought Vocabulary.com into every subject area because it was rigorous and relevant. We supported our teachers with training, we set high expectations for our students, and we made it part of our culture. Since then, we became one of only two schools in Broward County to increase from a C to a B on Florida's school report card, and our standardized test scores have significantly increased. But the most amazing part? It's seeing that all our students can use Vocabulary.com, and that they grow so fast."
Vocabulary.com's CEO Michael Freedman adds, "The whole point of what we're trying to do is close the achievement gap by improving literacy skills, and we're thrilled to be making a measurable difference. When you look at the results of this research, the improved growth makes sense considering that vocabulary acquisition is one of the key pillars for improving reading comprehension, and Vocabulary.com's approach applies the leading research on effective vocabulary instruction."
Learn more about the Vocabulary.com Educator Edition and see how teachers, schools, and districts are implementing Vocabulary.com to support their goals for improved literacy outcomes.
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