According to the i-Ready website, their reading program “is an online program that helps students of all ages become thoughtful, analytical readers. Grounded in best practice, it engages students as they build new skills and learn to access rigorous, culturally responsive texts. Its personalized instruction adjusts the lesson path to meet every reader at their individual level, enabling teachers to provide a personalized learning experience for each student.
i-Ready Reading includes:
Lessons that teach foundational skills such as phonological awareness, high-frequency words, and phonics to help students understand their connection to reading
Vocabulary lessons at earlier grade levels that teach words researchers have identified as the most essential to reading success
Instruction for Grade 3 and above that helps students build word learning strategies that maximize vocabulary acquisition
Reading Comprehension instruction that is designed to motivate learners of all ages as they grow accustomed to reading independently”
We reached out to teachers online to get their feedback on the program and truthfully, we received a lot of negative feedback. Many teachers felt the program lacked sufficient phonics/PA instruction, was unengaging, and complained that “students just clicked through” the program to avoid having to do the work. Users also seemed especially concerned that the assessment data was unreliable and therefore lowered the validity of the individualization.
We looked through the I-Ready company website, on google, and on the Education Source academic data-base for I-Ready studies. We were able to find 3 studies with control groups and sufficient statistical reporting that studied the efficacy of the I-Ready reading program. Both authors, independently, completed their searches, study coding, and effect size (Cohen’s d) calculations, and cross verified each other's work to better ensure reliability.
Study1: 2014 - Todtfeld
The first study was conducted by Todfeld, et al. in 2014. This study was a 1 year long, quasi-experimental study, with a sample size of 1498. The study used MAP results, and looked at the impact of i-Ready on core instruction for grades 3-5. We calculated an effect size of .29 for grade 3, of -.10 for grade 4, and of -.05 for grade 5, with a mean overall effect size of .04. Effect sizes below .20 are seen as negligible. With this in mind, the study showed a small but positive result for grade 3, negative but statistically insignificant results for grades 4-5. The overall, averaged out results showed no benefit for the I-Ready program.
Study 2: 2019-R.A. Torres
The second study was published by Torres, et al. in 2019. This study compared the MAP results for struggling students who had used the i-Ready program to ones who had not in the previous year. The study was 1 year long in student duration, and included 530 students in grades K-8. The authors did not provide enough statistical detail for us to independently calculate an effect size; however, the authors did provide their own effect size of -1.18. In this study the control group outperformed the treatment group by a substantial amount suggesting that i-Ready lowered students results, by a significant amount.
Study 3: 2020-M. Swain
The final study was conducted by Swain, et al. in 2020. This study had an extremely large sample size of 139289 and is thus likely far more representative of the range of real results. The study was 4 months long and compared MAP results for students in grades K-5 who used i-Ready vs did not. We found an effect size of .20 for kindergarten, .08 for grade 1, .05 for grade 2, .12 for grade 3, .09 for grade 4, and .13 for grade 5, and .11 overall. This study showed positive but statistically insignificant results.
All 3 studies showed results that were either negative, or so low that they were statistically negligible. On average these studies showed a mean effect size of -.34, which would suggest that i-Ready lowers student learning. However, this average is artificially lowered, by the fact that the study with the lowest sample size, had very negative results. Given that study 3 was 262 times larger than study 2, we think an average weighted for sample size would be more representative. With studies weighted for sample size, we found a mean effect size of .10. Overall, these results suggest that the i-Ready reading program shows little to no statistically meaningful benefit.
Final Grade: C The program shows a weighted mean effect size of between .10 and .19
Qualitative Grade: 7/10 The program includes the following evidenced based types of instruction: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, direct, and individualzied.
Disclaimer: This review was not peer reviewed. It is always possible that a critical study was missed, which would affect the results of this analysis. These calculations were made, to the best of our ability, based on the data found.
Written by: Nathaniel Hansford and Sky McGlynn
Last Edited 2022-11-16
R. Tores. (2019). THE EFFECT OF THE I-READY READING PROGRAM ON STUDENT SCORES ON THE
NORTHWEST EVALUATION ASSOCIATION (NWEA®) MEASURES
OF ACADEMIC PROGRESS (MAP) READING ASSESSMENT. Retrieved from <https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2130&context=etdarchive>.
D, Todtfeld. (2014). THE IMPACT OF INSTRUCTIONAL READING TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS ON
STUDENT READING ACHIEVEMENT. Retrieved from <https://nwmissouri.edu/library/fieldstudies/2013/Todtfeld,%20Danny.pdf>.
M, Swain. (2019). Impact Evaluation of Reading i-Ready Instruction for Elementary Grades using 2018–19 Data Final Report. Retrieved from <https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED604746.pdf>.