Correlational Study Shows Learning Without Tears Meets Level III ESSA Requirements for Phonics, Reading, and Me: Significant Growth in Literacy Skills

Conducted on behalf of LearnPlatform by Instructure, the independent study confirms regular classroom usage of phonics program satisfies Level III ESSA requirements, connected to improved literacy skill proficiency 

Learning Without Tears, a leading early education company renowned for its unique teaching and learning approach, announces the findings of a correlational study conducted by LearnPlatform by Instructure. The study was designed to evaluate whether Phonics, Reading, and Me program meets Level III ESSA requirements, which are critical for improving literacy skills among students in grades K-3. These findings underscore the program’s success in addressing key literacy challenges and aligning with the Science of Reading research.

LearnPlatform conducted the study to fulfill Level III requirements (Promising Evidence) as outlined by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The research reveals compelling evidence of the positive impact of Phonics, Reading, and Me on student literacy, particularly among struggling readers in grades K through 3. Notably, students displayed significant growth in literacy skills throughout the program, with those initially below grade level demonstrating accelerated progress compared to their peers. These results reaffirm the program’s alignment with the Science of Reading and its ability to address critical gaps in phonics instruction within school districts.

“As we observe the urgent need to address literacy challenges nationwide, it cannot be overstated how important it is to embrace the Science of Reading,” said Eric Olsen, Chairman at Learning Without Tears. “Phonics, Reading, and Me offers an evidence-based framework grounded in the Science of Reading research. Learning Without Tears is dedicated to empowering students with the necessary tools to become proficient readers, paving the way for academic success and lifelong learning.”

The study encompassed students from kindergarten through fifth grade, drawn from multiple schools nationwide. 

Key Findings:

  • On average, students’ phonics skill proficiency significantly grew over the course of the Phonics, Reading, and Me lesson sequence.
  • On average, students who started with below-level literacy skills increased at a faster rate compared to other students over the course of the Phonics, Reading, and Me lesson sequence. For students who started below level, their skills grew an impressive 33%.

Phonics, Reading, and Me stands out for its structured, supplemental literacy program design, offering differentiated and personalized instruction during small group sessions, WINN/intervention time, after-school support, and summer school. With a comprehensive range of print and digital decodable texts spanning fiction and non-fiction genres, the program ensures engaging learning experiences for students while leveraging data-driven insights to inform personalized learning pathways. The digital experience automatically offers scaffolds that students need on an individualized basis.

“At Learning Without Tears, we are not just teaching reading; we’re cultivating confident, lifelong readers through a research-backed approach to phonics instruction,” said Marica Boone, Director of Curriculum and Design at Learning Without Tears. “The independent study’s findings reaffirm our commitment to providing impactful solutions that drive student success. Our program is rooted in evidence-based practices and is designed to spark a genuine love for reading. As the educational landscape continues to evolve, Learning Without Tears remains committed to advancing evidence-based solutions that empower educators and students alike, inspiring students to explore the rich world of literature with enthusiasm and assurance.”

To learn more about Learning Without Tears, visit

The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.

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