Close the Reading Gap in Summer School with MindPlay

Reading achievement was lagging well before the pandemic. Today, more and more students are falling behind. Results from Amplify’s DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) assessment show that more than 1 in 3 kindergarten through third-grade students are unlikely to be reading on grade level by the end of the school year.

Students in second grade are of particular concern since their crucial formative reading years, kindergarten and first grade, were spent learning virtually. Missing the foundational reading skills is detrimental and can set the stage for difficulty with all subjects, as reading is the basis for learning. Older students also face reading deficits that can be crippling and lead them to drop out of school or graduate without the proper reading skills to be successful in life.

How can we address the reading deficits of students and close their reading gaps during summer school?

MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach (MVRC) is an effective online reading program that provides individualized reading instruction to meet the diverse skills and unique needs of students. The primary goal of the program is to fill gaps and develop skills necessary to facilitate learning to read.

Students begin by taking a Universal Screener. This computer-based, automated screener covers each of the key areas identified by the National Reading Panel (NRP). The program uses adaptive synthetic intelligence to create an individualized Student Prescriptive Learning Plan for each student.

Students receive instruction in the following areas:

  1. Phonemic Awareness  
  2. Phonics  
  3. Fluency  
  4. Vocabulary
  5. Comprehension 
  6. Grammar for Meaning

Phonemic Awareness and Phonics lessons, based on the Orton Gillingham method, are delivered by licensed speech pathologists and are mastery-based. MVRC uses research best practices to deliver multimodal instruction using direct, explicit presentations that are strategically linked to visual and auditory content. Adaptive technology is employed to provide formative feedback to guide learning and activate prior knowledge. Students interact with instructors and coaches.

Student progress is automatically monitored every 14 days. Robust reports provide comprehensive data at the class and individual levels. This data can be used for small group, individual and, in some cases, contribute to the data needed for additional testing for dyslexia or other services. There are also downloadable reading and writing resources available through MindPlay that can be used for small group instruction or supplemental student practice.

As a Reading Interventionist who used MindPlay with students from very diverse backgrounds and academic levels, I can attest that this program can make a great difference for students and teachers, even in a short period of time.

I placed 56 students in the program. I had worked for the majority of the school year with them using research-based materials and practices but without significant growth. My students were in second through sixth grade and were reading from one to three years behind expected levels.

While only a few of my students gained a reading level during the 30-day period, significant gaps were filled and all were headed in the right direction. I saw significant improvement in self-confidence as did their classroom teachers. The in-depth reports provided me with valuable data about each student that allowed me to design appropriate small groups and other offline interventions that truly met the needs of this diverse group of students.


Teia Hoover Baker is an educator, published author, and entrepreneur. She is an innovative, devoted educator whose career has been dedicated to coordinating programs that support struggling learners. Her passion is meeting students where they are and guiding them to excel. Her main focus is always what is best for children. Teia holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys being Lovie to her growing grandchildren.

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