New Reading Intervention Boosts FCAT Scores

TAMPA, Fla. (March 12, 2009) – Using the technology from a program originally designed to improve the singing of children and adults, Electronic Learning Products (ELP) created TUNE in™ to READING (TiR), and, you guessed it – use of the software improves more than just singing.  Students are enjoying success in reading after years of failure.  Teachers report students are experiencing improved self-esteem and are absent less often.  Furthermore, the results show that struggling readers average over one year’s progress in just nine weeks.  Many students experience their first reading success after using TiR.  A University of South Florida collaboration with ELP and Hillsborough County Schools has facilitated an exceptionally quick move from research into practice and now a report on the results.


Led by Susan Homan, a professor of literacy in the USF College of Education, a team of researchers has been investigating TiR with struggling readers for over four years.  Funding for this research has increased each year leading to a $468,000 grant from Just Read! Florida in 2008. 


Over 1000 struggling readers in Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Orange Counties have participated in TiR studies.  This includes elementary, middle, and high school students.  The consistent gains in reading from students using TiR prompted a look back over three years of FCAT scores.  


Homan and her research team just finished their latest report on the effect of TUNE in™ to READING on struggling readers’ FCAT scores.  They found that over three consecutive years, struggling readers that used TiR outperformed non-TiR users on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) in year-over-year gains by a range of 32.6% to 117.9%.  Additionally, the results, “ … appear consistent for elementary, middle, and high school students,” said Homan. “… we can report finding no evidence of an intervention other than TUNE in™ to READING that has independent research supporting multi-year student gains on FCAT.  The consistency and size of the gain were unexpected and remarkable.”


A current TiR research project is lead by cognitive neuroscientists from Harvard and MIT, in collaboration with Homan.  Along with a range of assessments, TiR and comparison students will have functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI’s) to assess the brain regions influenced by the TiR intervention.


Why is TUNE in™ to READING so successful?  Homan attributes it to the repetitive nature of the singing activities in TiR and its game-like qualities.  Students sing the songs repeatedly to get better scores on their tone and pitch.  Reading practice improves reading ability and students enjoy the singing practice because it’s fun!  At one school site a student was overheard saying to the teacher, “Do I have to leave?”  Homan believes this type of motivation keeps the students singing, which keeps them reading.


The USF College of Education is ranked 45th by U.S. News &  World Report of graduate schools in the country, is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and is fully approved by the Florida Department of Education. The USF College of Education is the seventh largest public college of education in the nation. For more information no the USF College of Education, visit: or


The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.