educationtechnologyinsights

American Reading Company: New Standard for Reading Achievement

Nate Smith, CTO
Jane Hileman, a professor, reading specialist and the founder of American Reading Company (ARC), always believed that all students could read at grade level with the right practice and coaching. It is this vision that propelled the idea of 100 Book Challenge, an independent reading system that delivered significant improvement in students' reading skills, sparking nationwide interest from schools and districts. Today, ARC’s breakthrough approaches and technologies have caught the attention of 1,000 districts and 6,000 schools across the country. Supporting education in English and Spanish languages, ARC’s suite of literacy solutions accelerates the growth of readers and the instructional expertise of teachers simultaneously.

Unlike others in the market, ARC’s solutions—especially SchoolPace, the learning management system—are designed to bridge data silos. With its embedded formative assessment tool, the IRLA (Independent Reading Level Assessment), SchoolPace helps teachers build a portfolio of each student’s reading skills. Data is reported to all stakeholders, including teachers, school administrators, and district administrators. The system provides real-time, actionable insights into the skills and Common Core State Standards each student has mastered, and allows teachers to identify the key areas which a student needs to work on. “SchoolPace provides teachers and administrators with key statistics on student achievement, which are crucial to developing a plan of action for all students to accelerate their reading growth,” says Nate Smith, CTO, ARC.

While improving both reading skills and engagement among students, ARC’s strategy focuses on using their systems to develop literacy leaders at every level— district, school, classroom teacher, and family.


When you partner with ARC, you receive an entire balanced literacy system across grades, classrooms, and languages


“Our approach is to build teacher capacity and give teachers deep insight into what each student needs to become an avid reader,” says Smith. Their formative assessment framework enables teachers to guide students in real time by watching a student at work, analyzing his or her actions and thinking. ARC doubles down on its teacher training strategy with professional development and instructional materials that further improve teachers’ craft.

Besides its technology capabilities, the company's modular and student-centered core curriculum, Research Labs, enables stakeholders—including students, teachers, and administrators— to personalize the topics of their choice in the curriculum. “With Research Labs, students can easily become experts on the topic of their choice and learn to apply grade-level standards to their reading, writing, and research,” explains Smith. Take the case of Chatfield Elementary School: Students scoring in the bottom 10-15 percent schoolwide on the MCA (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments) for reading were given an additional hour of reading every day integrated into their science and social studies classes. The elementary school decided to use Research Labs to provide rigorous and engaging instruction. The Research Labs’ leveled libraries of informational text and a carefully structured project-based learning format ensured that every student was successful. These students went from 18 percent scoring partially proficient to 88 percent proficient or above.

American Reading Company began with one teacher’s vision that all kids could read on grade level if they received the right practice and coaching. American Reading Company’s intervention and assessment tools have accelerated reading achievement in more than 3,800 schools across the country. Smith says, “When you partner with ARC, you receive an entire balanced literacy system across grades, classrooms, and languages.”