Scientific Approach to Literacy

With the mission to enhance literacy among young learners, research-based strategies are at the core of Readability. This cutting-edge AI-driven reading platform exemplifies this approach.

Foundation in Research

The development of Readability stems from a comprehensive understanding of evidence-based strategies recommended by the National Reading Panel Report. Across key pillars of reading instruction highlighted in the report, Readability aligns its features and functionalities.

What is the Science of Reading?

The Science of Reading is an interdisciplinary framework that converges knowledge from various fields such as cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and education. It scrutinizes the processes involved in learning to read while identifying effective instructional strategies grounded in empirical research. This approach is rooted in the understanding that reading is not an innate skill but a complex cognitive function that needs to be taught and practiced.

The Framework of a Science of Reading Curriculum

The Science of Reading curriculum is meticulously structured to ensure a comprehensive learning experience for students in their formative years of reading development. Within this framework, several key components build the foundation for effective literacy education.

In-Depth Exploration of Core Components



Phonics instruction is at the heart of the Science of Reading. It entails teaching the relationship between phonemes and graphemes. This association allows children to decode words by sounding them out and blending these sounds together. The curriculum often incorporates a step-by-step progression through single-letter sounds, digraphs, blends, and multisyllabic words, tailored to move from simple to more complex concepts. 

Phonics instruction is at the heart of Readability’s AI-driven reading tutor, which emphasizes the relationship between phonemes and graphemes. The app helps children decode words by sounding them out and blending sounds together. The interactive voice-based AI tutor listens to the child reading aloud, providing real-time feedback and pronunciation corrections. This step-by-step guidance helps children move from single-letter sounds to more complex words and multisyllabic words, mirroring the structured progression advocated by the Science of Reading.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness involves understanding and manipulating individual sounds in spoken words. It precedes phonics in the learning process and is crucial for the development of reading and spelling skills. Activities in phonemic awareness include rhyming, segmenting words into individual sounds, blending sounds into words, and manipulating sounds within words. This foundation is necessary for students to effectively link sounds to written symbols in phonics instruction.

Readability incorporates activities that build phonemic awareness, such as listening to children read and providing immediate feedback on their pronunciation. This foundational skill is critical for the development of reading and spelling abilities. By engaging children in activities like segmenting words into sounds and blending sounds into words, Readability ensures that students develop the necessary skills to link sounds to written symbols, which is a precursor to effective phonics instruction.



A robust vocabulary is central to reading comprehension and overall language development. Curriculum under the Science of Reading emphasizes both explicit vocabulary instruction and indirect learning through exposure to a rich language environment. Instruction focuses on teaching word meanings, usage, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings, as well as morphological elements like prefixes, suffixes, and root words to help students deduce meanings of unfamiliar words.

Building a robust vocabulary is central to Readability’s approach, which is essential for reading comprehension and overall language development. The app provides a comprehensive vocabulary-building experience in several key ways:

Readability introduces children to new words within the context of engaging stories and interactive reading sessions. This aligns with the Science of Reading’s emphasis on explicit vocabulary instruction. Each word is pronounced and explained, and children can long-press on any word to hear its pronunciation, meaning, and usage in context. This direct teaching method helps children understand and remember new words.

Readability also helps strengthen a child’s vocabulary through these features:

  • Personalized Vocabulary Lists: As children read, any word they explore is automatically added to their Personalized Vocabulary List. This list is organized alphabetically, allowing children to practice, review, and perfect new or difficult words. This feature supports continuous vocabulary development and helps children retain and apply new words in various contexts.

  • Contextual Learning: Readability’s AI tutor reads the meaning of each word aloud and provides context for its usage. By seeing and hearing words used in different contexts, children gain a deeper understanding of word meanings and their nuances. This method aligns with the Science of Reading’s focus on teaching word relationships and nuances, helping students grasp the multiple definitions and inflections of words.
  • Morphological Elements: The app’s approach also includes teaching morphological elements like prefixes, suffixes, and root words. Understanding these elements helps children deduce the meanings of unfamiliar words, which is a crucial skill for vocabulary expansion. This morphological awareness aids in understanding complex words and improves overall reading comprehension.

  • Indirect Vocabulary Learning: Through exposure to a rich language environment provided by the app’s library of beautifully illustrated fiction and nonfiction books, children learn new words indirectly. The varied genres and topics in the library expose children to a wide range of vocabulary, further enhancing their language development.

  • Interactive and Engaging Stories: The app’s stories are designed to be immersive and engaging, encouraging children to read more. This increased exposure to text naturally boosts vocabulary acquisition. The interactive nature of the app, with its voice-based questions and answers, ensures that children remain engaged and actively think about the words they are learning.

  • Repetition and Practice: Readability encourages repeated practice of new vocabulary through its structured reading sessions and interactive features. Repetition is a key aspect of the Science of Reading, as it helps solidify word meanings in a child’s memory. The app’s design ensures that children repeatedly encounter and practice new words until they achieve mastery.



Reading comprehension strategies are interwoven throughout the reading curriculum to help students understand and interpret what they read. Strategies include making predictions, visualizing, questioning, summarizing, and inferring meanings from context. The curriculum also emphasizes teaching text structures and genres to aid comprehension and encouraging connections between the text and a student’s own experiences and knowledge.

Readability’s comprehension feature is designed to develop critical thinking skills and enhance a child’s ability to understand and interpret what they read. This aligns closely with the Science of Reading’s emphasis on comprehensive reading strategies. Here’s how Readability integrates these strategies:

  • Interactive AI Tutor: Readability’s AI tutor asks voice-based questions that prompt children to think about what they are reading. This interactive dialogue encourages children to make predictions, visualize scenes, and answer questions about the text, fostering a deeper understanding of the material. By engaging in this interactive process, children actively practice comprehension strategies that are essential for interpreting text.

  • Making Predictions: The app encourages children to make predictions about the story as they read. This strategy helps children think ahead and anticipate what might happen next, which enhances their engagement and understanding of the narrative. Making predictions is a key comprehension strategy that keeps children involved and focused on the text.

  • Visualizing: Visualization is a powerful comprehension strategy where children create mental images of the scenes they read about. Readability’s richly illustrated books and interactive storytelling help children visualize characters, settings, and events, which aids in understanding and remembering the story. The app’s emphasis on visualization supports children in developing a clearer picture of the text in their minds.

  • Questioning: The AI tutor frequently asks questions that require children to reflect on and analyze the text. These questions range from simple recall to higher-order thinking, such as making inferences or drawing conclusions. By answering these questions, children practice questioning as a comprehension strategy, which helps them engage more deeply with the text and improve their understanding.

  • Inferring Meanings from Context: The app teaches children to infer meanings from context, which is crucial for understanding complex texts. When children encounter unfamiliar words or concepts, the AI tutor guides them in using context clues to derive meanings. This strategy enhances their ability to comprehend and make sense of new information independently.

  • Teaching Text Structures and Genres: Readability emphasizes the importance of understanding different text structures and genres. The app’s library includes a variety of genres and text types, from fiction to nonfiction, each with distinct structures. By exposing children to these different formats, the app helps them recognize and understand how various texts are organized, which aids in comprehension.

  • Connecting to Experiences and Knowledge: The app encourages children to make connections between the text and their own experiences or prior knowledge. This strategy helps children relate personally to the material, making it more meaningful and easier to understand. By connecting new information to what they already know, children can better comprehend and remember what they read.

  • Detailed Progress Tracking: Readability’s Progress Dashboard allows parents and educators to monitor a child’s comprehension development. The dashboard tracks comprehension scores and provides insights into how well a child understands the material. This data helps tailor the reading experience to meet each child’s needs, ensuring they continue to improve their comprehension skills.

By integrating these comprehensive reading strategies, Readability ensures that children not only read text but also understand and interpret it effectively.

The app’s approach aligns with the Science of Reading by fostering critical thinking, enhancing comprehension, and building a strong foundation for academic success.

Curriculum Design Around Key Components

Curriculum Design Around Key Components

The Science of Reading curriculum is designed to integrate these components seamlessly, ensuring that instruction in one area supports and reinforces learning in others. Here’s how curricula are generally designed around these pillars:

  1. Sequential Structure: Lessons are arranged in a logical sequence that progresses from simple to complex concepts. This structure ensures that students have mastered foundational skills before moving on to more advanced topics.

  2. Reinforcement and Cumulative Learning: Earlier learned skills are continuously reinforced through practice while new concepts are introduced. This cumulative approach ensures that learning is solidified and that students are able to apply their knowledge in various contexts.

  3. Diagnostic Assessments: Regular assessments are conducted to identify individual student strengths and areas for improvement. This allows for tailored instruction that meets each student’s needs and ensures mastery of skills at each stage.

  4. Multisensory Techniques: Instruction often involves visual, auditory, and kinesthetic activities to cater to different learning styles and to enrich the learning experience.

  5. Evidence-Based Instructional Practices: Teaching strategies are grounded in research and evidence, incorporating proven methods for facilitating learning in each of the core components.

  6. Adaptation for Diverse Learners: The curriculum is adaptable to accommodate students with diverse backgrounds, learning styles, and abilities. This inclusivity ensures that all students have equitable access to effective reading instruction.

How Are Schools Implementing the Science of Reading?

Implementing the Science of Reading in schools is a multi-faceted process that involves fundamental changes to curriculum design, instructional practices, and educator training. Here’s a deeper look into the adoption process, with real-world examples and insights from educators who are at the forefront of this educational shift.

Independent Case Studies

Pilot Study with Salisbury Elementary School

A pilot conducted at Salisbury Elementary School in Pennsylvania underscores the efficacy of Readability in improving reading fluency among third-grade students. Partnering with educator Lori McGinley, Readability implemented a structured program focusing on oral reading fluency practice using AI and speech recognition software.

  • Challenges Addressed: Ms. McGinley identified a pressing need for her students to improve reading fluency, a critical component highlighted by the National Reading Panel Report. Insufficient practice and exposure to fluent reading hindered student progress, prompting the adoption of Readability to address this challenge.
  • Approach: Collaborating with Ms. McGinley, Readability structured a pilot program wherein students utilized the app for 20 minutes daily, split between school and home. The app provided personalized, AI-driven feedback on oral reading fluency, comprehension, and progress tracking, aligning with evidence-based strategies for effective reading instruction.


  • Reading Fluency Increase: Students using Readability increased their reading fluency by an average of 27.16 words per minute.
  • Comparative Growth: Students not using the program increased their reading fluency by only 19.25 words per minute.
  • Greater Fluency Growth: Students using Readability showed a 41% greater fluency growth compared to those who did not use the program.

The personalized feedback and accountability features empowered students to take ownership of their reading journey, leading to remarkable progress.” – Ms. McGinley

Effective Interventions for Students with Dyslexia and English Language Learners

Mrs. Hauser’s classes at Salisbury Elementary consist of English Language Learners and students with learning disabilities. The choice of Readability was strategic, driven by its comprehensive set of tools designed to cater to individual learning styles and particularly to English Language Learners.

  • Challenges Addressed: Mrs. Hauser identified a need to improve reading fluency and engagement among her students, many of whom faced difficulties due to dyslexia and language barriers. Traditional methods were insufficient to address these challenges, necessitating an innovative solution like Readability.
  • Approach: The study involved 20 ELL students in 3rd and 4th grade over a 10-week period, with each student practicing 20 minutes of reading daily, split between school and home. The program utilized daily tracking, guided AI tutoring, and provided access to a diverse library of reading materials. Readability’s AI-driven program provided personalized feedback, monitored reading progress, and offered interactive, engaging content. The app’s speech recognition technology helped tailor the reading experience to each student’s needs, fostering a supportive learning environment.


  • Fluency Gains: On average, students increased their reading fluency by 36%.
  • Improved Accuracy: Accuracy levels improved to 97%.
  • Books Read: Students read an average of 76 books each.
  • Confidence: Students showed improved confidence in their reading abilities.
  • Verification: Results were validated using Fastbridge, demonstrating substantial improvements.

Despite personal challenges, ELL students exhibited increased proficiency and confidence in the classroom. The improvements documented were validated by the school’s reading specialist, underscoring the significant impact of Readability on these students.

“Using Readability has helped improve reading fluency and engagement among ALL of my students. My kids feel more confident as readers. The measurable progress in their reading abilities over the past ten weeks has been incredibly significant.” – Mrs. Hauser, Elementary School Teacher

Advantages of Integrating the Science of Reading in Educational Frameworks

Advantages of Integrating the Science of Reading in Educational Frameworks

The Science of Reading initiative has become increasingly influential in transforming literacy education across the United States. By incorporating this comprehensive, evidence-based approach, educational institutions are witnessing substantial improvements in literacy rates among students. This structured method of teaching reading builds a strong foundation in phonemic awareness and phonics, essential components proven to develop proficient readers. In addition, the Science of Reading’s explicit teaching of vocabulary and comprehension strategies is designed to create a rich, language-centric environment that fosters an increased rate of literacy acquisition.

Strengthened Foundational Skills: Students are equipped with a systematic understanding of sound-letter correspondences which leads to an improvement in their ability to decode text effortlessly and accurately.

Elevated Reading Comprehension: A stronger focus on vocabulary and language comprehension ensures that students are not just reading words but also grasping the meaning behind them, which is vital for academic success.

Improved Academic Performance: As students become more proficient readers, they are better prepared to tackle the challenges of complex subjects, leading to higher achievement in various academic disciplines.

Long-term Socioeconomic Gains

The long-term socioeconomic benefits of a literacy-rich education cannot be understated. The Science of Reading opens doors to greater opportunities in the future for students by laying the groundwork for lifelong learning and success. Research has shown that strong reading skills are closely tied to higher rates of employment, better earning potential, and the ability to fully participate in society.

Increased Employment Prospects: Proficient literacy skills are a prerequisite for most job roles in the modern economy, making a strong reading foundation crucial for career advancement.

Economic Upliftment: Individuals with strong literacy skills are more likely to enjoy higher income levels and stability, contributing positively to economic growth and reducing poverty levels.

Enhanced Civic Participation: Literacy empowers individuals to participate effectively in democratic processes, such as voting and community engagement, leading to a more informed and active citizenry.

Cognitive and Social Development

Learning to read using the Science of Reading methodology not only improves academic performance but also supports cognitive and social development in students. Reading is fundamentally a cognitive process involving areas of the brain associated with memory, attention, and processing speed. When students become proficient in the basic mechanics of reading, they are able to focus more on the comprehension and critical thinking aspects of literacy.

Cognitive Advancements: The Science of Reading supports cognitive growth by exercising various brain functions, including those related to problem-solving, memory, and critical analysis.

Enhanced Social Skills: Through improved comprehension and exposure to diverse texts, students develop empathy and better social understanding by connecting with a multitude of characters and scenarios.

By embracing the Science of Reading, educational systems are not only improving literacy rates and academic achievements in the present but are profoundly impacting the socioeconomic status and cognitive and social development of individuals for generations to come. The ripple effect of these advantages underscores the significant role that literacy plays in personal and societal advancement. As educators, policy-makers, and communities continue to recognize and build upon these benefits, the long-term implications for a more literate and prosperous society are immense.

Embracing the Future of Literacy with the Science of Reading

Embracing the Future of Literacy with the Science of Reading

The Science of Reading has redefined educational pedagogy, laying the groundwork for a future where literacy serves as the cornerstone for all learning. This instructional approach, deeply rooted in cognitive science, represents more than just a shift in teaching methods—it is a revolution in understanding the intricacies of reading development. Weaving together decades of interdisciplinary research, the Science of Reading offers a blueprint for nurturing proficient, lifelong readers.

Readability exemplifies the fusion of cutting-edge technology with evidence-based strategies to maximize student literacy outcomes. By aligning with recommendations from the National Reading Panel Report and leveraging input from educators and literacy experts, Readability emerges as a potent tool for educators striving to cultivate proficient readers. Through ongoing research and collaboration, Readability remains committed to unlocking the potential of every student and ensuring equitable access to quality reading instruction.

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