Success Story: Building Independent Readers in Middle School

Summer school may seem like an unlikely place to see significant reading growth AND build a joy of reading, but 6th Grade ELA teacher, Kay Lazar cracked the code. She gave students choice, measured their growth consistently and saw results. 

Summer School Success

After using Readlee in summer school with her middle school students, Kay Lazar saw that the results in reading were even more than she expected.  Kay explained that using Readlee “gave [students] more confidence with reading, made reading high interest and the data collected was good and immediate information.”  Not only did they show growth in their reading skills, they also began to enjoy reading and investing in their reading practice, key steps on the path to becoming  lifelong readers.

“Readlee gave [students] more confidence with reading, made reading high interest and the data collected was good and immediate information.”

Let Students Choose

Kay Lazar is a 6th grade ELA teacher at Western Middle School. Her students’ reading abilities and interests vary greatly. By creating 3-4 different readings on Readlee that covered different topics, Kay gave students the freedom to choose topics they were  curious about. Text interest is a key factor in boosting reading skills and comprehension, especially for struggling or emerging readers. 1  

Readlee also offers autonomy for students to read in the space where they feel comfortable. Kay allowed students to read at home, in a quiet corner of the classroom or alone in the hall. This choice, coupled with the choice of how to answer comprehension questions - record or type the answer, allows students to feel confident as they complete their reading. 

Benchmark Growth

Kay’s goal for her students in summer school was two fold: Reading growth AND enjoy reading. Even she was surprised how her students met and exceeded both goals.  With reading growth, it is critical to measure consistently where students are. The more opportunities for students to show what they know, the more robust the data becomes and the better interventions can be designed from that data. 

For every reading her students completed, Kay used Readlee to collect  data, whether it was a copy and pasted article,, a fluency passage uploaded as a PDF or a book from the classroom library read as an independent reading assignment. She then used the progress monitoring graphs to see how students were growing and where there were still opportunities to improve. 


Fulmer, S.M., & Frijters, J.C. (2011). Motivation during an excessively challenging reading task: The buffering role of relative topic interest. Journal of Experimental Education, 79(2), 185–208. doi:10.1080/00220973.2010.481503

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