Steven Guttentag, CEO
Reading is more than just understanding the meaning of written or printed words or symbols—it is a fundamental skill that helps individuals comprehend, find, and convey information better. Children must have the tools to develop strong reading abilities from an early age, but also to continue to improve these skills throughout elementary, middle, and high school.
To help set students up for success, Steven Guttentag, CEO of Reading Plus, believes that educators must place emphasis on improving literacy skills. “When students improve their reading, it changes their life—because when reading comes more easily it becomes more enjoyable, and if you like to read, then you like to learn,” remarks Guttentag. He highlights that only 30-40 percent of the total student population nationwide is proficient in reading, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Reading Plus, a research-backed online reading program, aims to build student reading proficiency by bolstering both the cognitive and physical aspects of reading.
Since the company’s beginnings in the 1930s, research has played an important role at Reading Plus. “Our founders pioneered research in fluency, and developed unique tools and scaffolds to improve students’ ability to process and retain information effectively and efficiently as well as building their reading stamina,” says Guttentag. Based on these research findings, the Vermont-based company developed an online platform that provides personalized reading intervention and instruction to over a million students nationwide.
The program starts with an adaptive, comprehensive assessment that identifies students’ strengths and weaknesses to ensure their individual needs are being met.
When students improve their reading, it changes their life—because when reading comes more easily it becomes more enjoyable, and if you like to read, then you like to learn
Data from the Reading Plus assessment informs personalized instruction that improves fluency, stamina, vocabulary, and comprehension, while also building strong visual skills. Rich data is transformed into a suite of reports that gives teachers the information they need for targeted instruction.
Another crucial element of effective reading programs is the inclusion of a content library with engaging informational and literary selections that support instructional objectives in curriculum areas such as STEM, social science, and American civics. “Reading Plus is committed to providing students with a diverse content library that represents the wide range of students’ emotional and academic needs and interests,” shares Guttentag. “Our content respects and reflects the experiences and cultures of all students, especially those whose backgrounds have historically been underrepresented.”
To illustrate the solution’s impact, Guttentag cites a case study where Reading Plus collaborated with California’s ABC Unified School District. “The principal shared that while a lot of programs produce results, often they plateau,” says Guttentag. “ABC Unified has been using our product for eight years, and they continue to see improvement year after year.” Reading Plus empowered teachers with real-time data that pinpointed learners’ skill gaps and led to more personalized instruction to improve students’ critical reading capacity.
Orchestrating similar success stories, Reading Plus aims to continue helping students augment their reading skills. Presently, in the wake of Covid-19 imposed challenges, the company is continually enhancing its product to thrive in the ongoing virtual and hybrid learning environments. “As we march ahead, we strive to help even more students become fluent lifelong readers,” concludes Guttentag.