New interactive tools let students see progress in reading and writing
September 22, 2016 (Washington, D.C.) — CommonLit, the free website for 5th-12th grade literacy, launched version 3.0, a new interactive platform that allows teachers track student progress in reading and writing. New features enable teachers to differentiate reading instruction, tailored to the unique needs of students. This major release was made possible through the support of AT&T, Brinker Capital, AmerisourceBergen, and Fast Forward.
CommonLit addresses a critical need. Despite a flurry of educational reforms, only 34% of eighth graders can read at a proficient level (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2015). In a single classroom, student reading aptitudes often span eight reading levels (Firmender, Rice, & Sweeney, 2013).
At CommonLit.org, users access a free collection of high-interest, leveled reading passages, and assign rigorous lessons to students digitally. CommonLit’s curriculum is designed to promote higher-order thinking, analysis, and college-level discussion with the goal of ensuring that all students graduate high school with the literacy skills they need to be successful. The online product is designed to promote the use of research-based best practices for reading instruction.
CommonLit’s digital library is freely accessible to students, teachers and parents. Version 3.0 allows users to:
- Assign reading assessments to students;
- Score written responses with one click;
- Send personalized writing feedback to students;
- Review score reports on Common Core-aligned question sets;
- Access high-quality texts and question sets, available for free only through CommonLit.
CommonLit’s digital library contains over 450 texts and question sets that include authentic published works from National Public Radio, Science News for Students, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Digital Public Library of America, and more. Each text includes a standards-aligned question set, a discussion guide, linked to related multimedia, and a guide to engage parents and promote literacy development at home.
Matt Stephens, a 7th grade teacher at E.L. Haynes Charter School in Washington, D.C., is an avid user of CommonLit. “CommonLit is game-changing for classroom teachers,” says Stephens. “The articles are rigorous and promote engaging classroom debates. The new version helps me deliver targeted formative assessment, and make better use of data so that I can personalize instruction to meet the needs of my students.”
Michelle Brown, the founder of CommonLit, formerly taught in a high-poverty rural school in Mississippi. “Students in underserved communities are getting left behind by the current edtech market,” she said. “Our goal is to make a dent in the adolescent literacy crisis at scale by giving teachers the tools they need to challenge students that read at many different levels. Today, we’re reaching hundreds of thousands of students in more than 12,000 schools across the nation.”
Founded as a non-profit in 2013, CommonLit’s mission is to help students make measurable gains in reading and writing. CommonLit has been recognized with innovation awards from Teach for America and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
For more information and to explore the site’s new features, visit www.CommonLit.org.
CommonLit is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit education technology organization that helps students make measurable gains in reading and writing. CommonLit was founded in 2013 to address the alarming resource disparity between high-income and low-income schools. The organization is based at the 1776 global tech incubator in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.CommonLit.org.
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CommonLit Press Team