Beyond fluency to meaning: using SuccessMaker to build comprehension skills in English language learners

With the growing number of English Language Learners in California, as well as struggling readers, educators need intervention programs to improve reading comprehension skills. This study focused on one such program called Success~aker, a computer-based intervention, and its impact on the comprehension skills of English Language Learners. The study followed four sixth-grade English Language Leamer students, native Spanish speakers of Hispanic descent, in an elementary school located in a large metropolitan area of southern California. The study followed two males and two females and looked at how the Success~aker program could affect their comprehension skills. The school district where Success~aker is being implemented is interested in learning whether the implementation of this program throughout the district will provide not only English Language Learners, but all students, with extra support in grade level curriculum and skills to bring them to proficient levels on state and grade level testing. Throughout the six-week study, the students increased their level of comprehension as tracked by the computer program, as well as their core literature program (reading program in which they participate in on a daily basis as adopted by the district). In the computer program, the student's program level increased, as well as their percentage of accuracy in comprehension. In the core literature program, the students went from averaging from 60 to 80 percent on the comprehension portions, to averaging 80 percent and above. The students made the most growth in the second half of the study when incentives were provided for hard work which shows that perhaps students have become more dependent on outside motivating factors while at school. The results of the study provide educators with background knowledge about how a computer intervention program can enhance the learning process of students, such as English Language Learners, that are behind in grade level curriculum. These programs can individualize instruction for each student and allow teachers for more time with small groups during class time. The study also showed that students seemed to be more interested in the program when they were provided with incentives.