CommonLit Insights NEW: Study of CommonLit 360 Demonstrates Positive Gains on Student Reading Achievement and Teacher Practice

A new study in collaboration with Mathematica shows impressive student and teacher growth with the use of CommonLit 360!

CommonLit 360 is our comprehensive ELA curriculum for grades 6-12. Each unit includes engaging and standards-aligned reading, writing, discussion, vocabulary, and multimedia lessons.

An exciting new study, conducted with external collaborator Mathematica, demonstrates CommonLit 360’s effectiveness.

The study utilized a quasi-experimental (QED) design and was conducted in over 300 schools located in 40 states across the country. Within these schools, 113,825 students in 313 schools across the nation were included in the sample. The research question for the study was: How does utilization of CommonLit 360 – and the assessment and professional development services – impact student learning, student engagement, and teacher pedagogical practice? In addition to quantitative analysis of student growth in reading, the study included teacher surveys and semi-structured interviews, as well as student surveys from 15 schools in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Tennessee. This study was conducted during the 2021-2022 school year.    

In addition to having access to CommonLit 360 instructional materials, schools had access to the services within CommonLit’s School Essentials PRO package, which includes professional development, administrator data dashboards, and valid benchmark assessments – services that complement and support the adoption and rollout of CommonLit 360.

In this blog post, we outline the exciting findings from our study with Mathematica.

Key Finding #1: Teachers who utilized CommonLit 360 instructional materials at high levels saw significantly higher levels of academic growth with their students.

The study defined “high utilization” level teachers as those who taught at least 10 lessons from CommonLit 360 instructional units.

Analysis of student scores from the beginning to the end of the year showed that students with higher levels of exposure to CommonLit 360 instruction saw accelerated levels of learning – more than what is typically expected in a year. Specifically, students in the “high usage” group saw  2.1 months of additional learning compared to  students in classes with students who weren’t exposed to meaningful amounts of CommonLit 360 instruction (comparison group). Higher levels of CommonLit 360 exposure was a  predictor of greater student growth in reading.

Reading Growth of Students by Level of Exposure to CommonLit 360 (SY 2021-2022)

Students in classrooms with high levels of CommonLit 360 exposure grew at an “accelerated” level – more than what is expected in 1 year in a typical middle school ELA classroom.
This graph shows reading growth in CL 360 students and a comparison group.

Key Finding #2: Teachers consistently reported that CommonLit 360 helped their students improve their English Language Arts skills.

All teachers in the study were surveyed about their experience using CommonLit 360 in their classrooms. The results showed that 76% of teachers felt that CommonLit 360 helped students improve their reading skills, 59% said it improved students' writing, and 65% indicated it improved students’ discussion skills.

Teacher Perceptions of CommonLit 360

Across the sample, a majority of teachers indicated that CommonLit 360 helped improve their students’ reading, writing, and discussion skills. For this study, teachers who indicated a 3 or a 4 were grouped in the “has helped” bucket.
This graph shows teachers perceptions of CommonLit 360.

A synthesis of teacher survey comments revealed that teachers observed students gaining greater skills in vocabulary and writing, and a greater willingness to do work. They also commented on notably higher assessment scores, and the perception that CommonLit 360 helped to catch students up from learning loss during the pandemic.

A teacher stated that the scaffolded structure of writing lessons and units helped engage students and led to improved scores: “I’m very, very pleased. It’s phenomenal growth…The way your first unit breaks it up was such a help. It shows them how to write an introduction, include main points. And then, we showed them what evidence was…That’s a big help, because we don’t always have a model.”

Another teacher commented on student growth in the context of pandemic learning loss: “We have seen tremendous growth this year. We were two years with COVID…Our students jumped tremendously [with CommonLit 360]. We did Link-It benchmark testing. The students really, really did well. It was phenomenal. They broke it down for us. We went up 14.7% from winter to spring.”

Teachers also noticed a change in student attitude towards reading. One teacher stated that her class was more interested in reading again. Another explained that students are “more willing and open to read and to discuss. And do the work in the text.”

Key Finding #3: 77% of teachers reported that CommonLit 360 helped them improve their pedagogical practice.

About 77% of teachers surveyed felt that CommonLit 360 helped them improve their teaching craft. This is particularly impressive considering this survey was taken in both the high utilization group and the comparison group, meaning that teachers who only used a couple of lessons still felt that exposure to CommonLit 360 materials improved their practice.

Teacher Perceptions of CommonLit 360 on Improving Their Practice

The percentage of teachers who felt CommonLit helped their teaching practice is indicated in blue and tan (3 and 4).
This graph shows teacher perceptions of whether or not CommonLit 360 improved their practice.

During interviews, teachers stated that CommonLit 360 gave them back time they previously spent on lesson planning, long-term planning, and aligning lessons to standards. One teacher explained that lesson planning is a breeze with CommonLit 360 because the “work is already done for me.”

Teachers enjoyed the consistent structure throughout units. One teacher explained, “It makes it easier to know what to focus on…It takes a lot of thought out for me. Like I don’t have to think about whether I am covering all the standards because that’s already planned out for me.”

Finally, teachers felt motivated by CommonLit, stating that seeing student growth and planning lessons around engaging, exciting texts propelled their practice forward.

Key Finding #4: Students reported being more engaged, interested, and culturally aware in their classrooms.

During the study, student surveys were collected from 643 students from Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Tennessee from September 2021 to June 2022.

The surveys showed that students with high usage teachers reported being more engaged than those in the comparison group. These students were more likely to report that their class kept their attention, that class was enjoyable and interesting, and that they liked the way they learned in class (+0.22 effect size difference between the high- and low-usage groups).

Additionally, students with high exposure to CommonLit 360 instruction were more likely to report higher levels of cultural awareness than students in the comparison group that did not get meaningful exposure to CommonLit 360. These high exposure students were more likely to say they felt proud of their background, that they learned new things about their culture or community, and had the chance to learn about the culture of others (+0.27 effect size difference between the groups).

Student Self-Reported Growth in Engagement and Cultural Awareness (SY 2021-2022)

Students with high exposure to CommonLit 360 reported an increase in engagement and cultural awareness
This graph shows student self-reported growth in student engagement and cultural awareness.

Get These Results in Your District

CommonLit’s team is committed to helping every school achieve these same staggering results. When your school partners with CommonLit by purchasing our School Essentials PRO or School Essentials PRO Plus package, there are a lot of benefits!

In addition to unlocking our Assessment Series to track student progress, your team will also be assigned a dedicated account manager, who will work closely with you and your team all year to ensure success with our program.

With School Essentials PRO Plus, schools will also have access to unit skills assessments and ongoing, customized professional development.

If you'd prefer to talk with a member of the CommonLit team about our paid packages, schedule a quick call, here.

We are eager to support your team!