Reading Program Value
USF professor calls progress unprecedented as TUNEin to READING shows gains ranging from 27 percent to 214 percent.
By Kim Tucker
Special to USF.edu News
TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 3, 2011) – The sad news about U.S. students struggling with low reading scores is hardly a surprise anymore, and news about a reading improvement program that actually works is all-too-rare. But it appears TUNEin™ to READING may soon generate positive headlines with its winning approach to improving reading skills, particularly with new research from the University of South Florida College of Education on its side.
TUNEin™ to READING’s web site (www.TUNEintoREADING.com) features the dramatic story of a fourth grade boy whose reading level jumped from second grade to fifth grade level after a mere three months of using the company’s innovative computerized system. The smiles, hugs, and heartfelt testimonial promise tremendous hope. While most advertising claims should be taken with a grain of salt, USF researchers found dramatic results are not uncommon.
Susan Homan, emeritus professor at USF’s College of Education, has just released a fifth and sixth year of research data reporting impressive literacy gains for struggling readers who used the innovative TUNEin™ to READING program. Homan and her colleagues found that over a 6-year period struggling readers who used TUNEin to READING outperformed their comparison groups on the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) in year-over-year gains by a range of 27 percent to a remarkable 214 percent.
“This is a significant finding that validates TUNEin to READING’s positive effect on reading comprehension levels,” Homan said. “Results of our research over six years provide consistent evidence that TUNEin to READING is an effective reading intervention for struggling readers in elementary, middle and high school.”
The reading intervention program calls for students to listen to, read and sing song lyrics. Using this technique they improve fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension. It is published by Electronic Learning Products of Tampa. Homan, as director of the Literacy Innovation for Education (LIFE) Initiative at USF and professor emeritus, researches new and innovative methods to help struggling readers. She became interested in TUNEin to READING in 2004 when a pilot study of Florida middle school students found statistically significant reading improvement for students who used this singing approach to reading remediation.
In Florida, 64% of fourth-graders and 68% of eighth-graders are below proficient in reading as measured by the NAEP Reading scores reported in 2009. Homan and her research team disseminate information on proven interventions to help educators with the growing numbers of struggling readers in our schools.
Homan concluded that the repetitive, but fun singing activity of TUNEin to READING creates a whole-brain learning experience that contributes to the benefits reported in the study. The whole-brain learning concept is further supported by research that has used Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRIs) of students engaged in singing. A growing body of research has shown that multiple regions of the brain are active during singing activities and that may be the most significant factor as to why the TUNEin to READING program is so effective.
“Rigorous scientific data support TUNEin to READING’s positive effect on reading skills. Classroom observations reveal that children truly enjoy using this program, which is something we would expect when you combine learning with music,” Homan said. “The consistency of the gains over so many years and at all age levels is unprecedented.”
Data from over 1,400 students of varying socio-economic status from ten different Florida schools and six different grade levels were analyzed and compared at a variety of FCAT reading levels. Gains were measured using data from six years of FCAT Developmental Scale Scores (DSS) for students who used TUNEin to READING in grades 3-12. Most studies reviewed provided control and/or matched samples for analysis and high levels of validity.
“It has been a genuine pleasure working with Dr. Homan and her team at USF’s College of Education over these past six years,” said Carlo Franzblau, founder of Electronic Learning Products and inventor of the award-winning TUNEin to READING program. “Schools in 43 states now use TUNEin to READING and Dr. Homan’s report supports what we hear from teachers every day: Struggling readers love our program and their teachers and parents love the improved reading levels.”
Kim Tucker can be reached at 813-974-7440.
Barbara Melendez at USF.edu News contributed to this report.