Clinical Studies


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Reading with TLC - Clinical Studies

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Initial Lively Letters Pilot Study in Boston Public Schools – Boston, MA, 1990-1996
In this study, 170 students with reading difficulties showed average gains of 2.1 grade levels in phonemic awareness,  2.0 grade levels in nonsense word decoding, and 1.5 grade levels in oral reading.  Students were given an average of 30 sessions (30 - 45 minutes each) of small group intervention instruction over the course of 6-8 weeks.  For  details, click here.

Reading with TLC Pilot Study in Pittsfield, MA, 1999 – 2000
Data using DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) and informal classroom assessments measured gains of at-risk/reading delayed kindergarten and first grade students who were given Lively Letters instruction throughout the school year.  Remarkable gains were made in letter ID, phoneme segmentation, nonsense word decoding, and real word decoding.  For details, click here.

Study of Lively Letters using RTI Model in York County, ME, 2006-2008
DIBELS results were gathered over two years of Lively Letters instruction given in all three tiers of the Response to Intervention model. Students in this study had greatly reduced needs for intervention services, especially for Tier 3 services, when given Lively Letters instruction in Tier 1 (whole class instruction). This study shows dramatic improvements in first grade students’ sound blending and sound segmentation skills during the school year.  The study also clearly shows that students enter first grade markedly better prepared after having Lively Letters instruction in kindergarten, with twice as many students entering at the “established” level and 80% less students at the “deficit” level.  For details, click here.

Lively Letters using RTI Model - High ELL Population in Las Vegas, NV, 2008-2009
Included here are two studies of Lively Letters in the Response to Intervention model over the course of an academic year in a school district with 75% of its students learning English as a second language (ELL, or English Language Learners).  One of the studies involved a special education kindergarten class, showing great improvements in letter name ID of upper and lower case letters, as well as letter sound ID with lower case letters.  The class average for letter sound ID went from 0% in August of 2008 to 87% by winter break, and had reached 100% by June, 2009.  In the second study, six of the most severely delayed first graders were progress monitored while receiving Lively Letters instruction in a large group (26 students) over a period of 3 months.  Even these most severely delayed students made tremendous gains in letter sound knowledge, with some of the lowest pretest scores increasing by 22-23 letter sounds within three months. For details, click here.

BOSTON, MA 1990 - 1996

The initial Lively Letters pilot study was conducted in the Boston Public Schools from 1990 – 1996. In this study, 170 students in grades K– 5 (including cognitively delayed, visually impaired, ELL and dyslexic students) received intervention in a cyclical, intensive therapy program, specifically the “Lively Letters” application. The sessions were approximately 45 minutes in length, with each student receiving an average of 30 sessions over a period of 6-8 weeks in small groups.  Several of the most severely challenged students were seen individually for 30 minutes per day. 

Researchers examined three areas in the students’ development: phonemic awareness, phonetic decoding, and oral reading. In the area of phonemic awareness, as tested by the Lindamood Auditory Conceptualization Test (LAC), these 170 students increased their reading skills by an average of 2.1 grade levels. Phonetic decoding (reading nonsense words) was a second area examined, and among 73 students tested by the “Word Attack” subtest of the Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests, there was a mean increase of 2.0 grade levels. A third area examined was oral reading, as tested by the “Oral Reading” subtest of the Brigance Comprehensive Inventory of Basic Skills. Among 168 students tested, there was an average increase in 1.5 grade levels in oral reading skills.  

Boston Public Schools 1990 - 1996

Oral Reading
Brigance Inventory of
Basic Skills “Oral Reading”

Word Attack
Woodcock Reading
Mastery “Word Attack”

Phonemic Awareness
LAC - Lindamood Auditory
Conceptualization Test

Average Grade Level Gains
After an average of 30 sessions (6 to 8 weeks)
of small group intervention, with several more
severely impaired students seen individually.

Average LAC Test Gains for Specific Groups
Grade 5 students - 4.0 grade levels
Grade 4 students - 3.1 grade levels
Grade 3 students - 2.3 grade levels
ELL/ESL students - 2.75 grade levels

PITTSFIELD, MA 1999 - 2000

The pilot study represented by the graph was conducted in Pittsfield, MA, 1999-2000. In this study of 16 at-risk / reading-delayed kindergarten students, several indicators were measured using timed subtests from the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills Test (DIBELS). The DIBELS subtests included “Letter Identification” (average number of letters named in one minute), “Phoneme Segmentation” (number of phonemes produced in one minute after hearing spoken words), and “Nonsense Words” (average number of phonemes read within nonsense words within one minute.  Among the kindergarteners receiving intervention instruction with the Reading with TLC program, Lively Letters and Sight Words You Can See, letter identification increased from 0 in the pre-test, to an average of 30 letters named correctly in one minute. Phoneme segmentation increased from 3 to 40 produced in one minute after hearing the spoken word, and there was in increase in number of phonemes read in one minute from 17 before instruction, to 25 in the post-test.

During that year, at risk / reading impaired students in grade one were also followed. Among the 1st graders who received intervention instruction with the Reading with TLC programs four times per week throughout the school year, the number of phonemes read within nonsense words in one minute increased from 12 to 40, and the average number of words read correctly increased from 23 to 71 words per minute (using 1st grade curriculum reading materials). 

YORK COUNTY, ME, 2006 - 2008

Overview of York County Pilot Studies Response to Intervention (RTI) Model

Kindergarten and first grade students from a school in Maine received combined instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics using the Lively Letters program at various levels of instruction as an integral part of the core reading program and as the intervention program. During the years that this Lively Letters program was utilized, it was the only phonemic awareness and phonics program being implemented with students. Progress monitoring, direct service, consults, and in-service training conducted by the speech pathologist were integral to the success of the program. Results gathered over a two year period using the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) were analyzed in regard to the percentage of students who had at-risk and deficient scores on timed tests of phonemic awareness and phonics. These quick assessments, measuring critical early skills for reading, such as phoneme segmentation and nonsense word decoding, have been shown to be highly predictive of later reading success or failure.

The data demonstrates that the overall numbers of students scoring in the at-risk and deficient ranges significantly decreased, following the use of the Lively Letters program within each tier of a Response to Intervention model. Students needing Tier Two instruction in kindergarten received push-in services while students in first grade received pull-out services. Tier Two instruction was sufficient for most at-risk or struggling students, who were serviced in small groups. A very limited number of students required Tier Three instruction which involved individual services. The data also indicates that when classrooms delivered this type of instruction in kindergarten and first grade, substantially fewer students required Tier Two or Tier Three special education or remedial services upon entering second grade.

Logistics of RTI Implementation of Lively Letters Program in York County, Maine (as reported by the SLP conducting the study)

Tier 1 Tier 2 - Reading specialist did “pull-out” Tier 2 instruction for “at-risk” students 5 times/week.

Tier 3 - In 2007-2008 school year, only 1 child needed Tier 3 instruction

Monitoring Progress


Services delivered and data reported by Rex Bell Elementary School speech language pathologist, Bonnie Lamping, MA, CCC-SLP

Lively Letters in High ELL, Special Ed. Kindergarten Classroom (August 2008 – June 2009) This is preliminary data from the Rex Bell School in the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada, with students in the Special Education Kindergarten Classroom. The demographics for this school system include 85% of students with free lunch and 75 % of students that are ELL (English Language Learners, English not being the native language of these students). The speech pathologist was utilizing the "push-in" service model (providing services in the classroom) 3 times per week, for 50 minutes. Whole classroom lessons were implemented, as well as small group reinforcement, as needed. The Lively Letters program was used to teach letter sounds, with no other phonics or phonemic awareness program reportedly being used at the time with these students. The letter sounds taught within this period of time included all single consonants and short vowels of the program, as well as the digraphs, sh, th, and ch.

The interim progress monitoring assessments were given approximately every month starting with a baseline in Aug of 2008. Median scores of all the students in the class at pre-test indicated that the students only knew 20% of upper case letter names, 18% of lower case letter names and 0% of the letter sounds. The assessment around winter break indicated that the class as a whole mastered 91% of upper case letter names, 74% of lower case letter names and 87% of their letter sounds. At the end of the school year the class had mastered 95% of upper case letter names, 80% of the lower case letter names, and 100% of their letter sounds.

Lively Letters in RTI Model
High ELL, Special Education Kindergarten Classroom
Clark County, Las Vegas (August 2008 – June 2009)

Lively Letters with Six Most Severely Delayed Students in First Grade Classroom
(May – June 2009)

In a first grade classroom at Rex Bell Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nevada, the speech/language pathologist provided Lively Letters instruction in a large group (26 students) 2-3 times per week for 40 minutes over a period of three months ( April 09 – June 09). Even the most severely delayed students in the classroom made tremendous gains in letter sound ID in the three months of instruction, as shown in the graph below. One of the students in the group (Student-6) was not only ELL, but had just recently come from Mexico and spoke NO ENGLISH at all when starting instruction with the Lively Letters program to learn the English letter sounds.

Lively Letters in RTI Model – Letter Sound ID
Most Severely Delayed Students in First Grade Classroom
Clark County, Las Vegas (2009)

*Student-6 Spoke no English at all when starting Lively Letters program to learn English letter sounds (was absent at time of mid-test)

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