System 44: Ann Arbor Public Schools
At a glance
  • Demonstrates a Rationale
  • Program: System 44®
  • Subjects: Intervention Curriculum, Literacy Curriculum
  • Report Type: Efficacy Study
  • Grade Level: Middle
  • Region: Midwest
  • Race/Ethnicity: Black, Hispanic, Other, White
  • District Urbanicity: Suburban
  • District Size: Large
  • District: Ann Arbor Public Schools, MI
  • Participants: N=118
  • Outcome Measure: Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE), Reading Inventory, Phonics Inventory
  • Implementation: 60 to 90 minutes daily (Stand-Alone)
  • Evaluation Period: 2009–2010
  • Study Conducted by: Scholastic Research
Students demonstrate significant improvement in word reading and comprehension.

Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) serves approximately 16,000 students at 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, six high schools, and one K–8 school. The majority of these students are White (56%), followed by Asian/Pacific Islander (15%), African American (5%), and Hispanic (5%) with 8% unspecified and less than 1% American Indian or Alaskan Native. Approximately 20% of all students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

During the 2009–2010 school year, AAPS piloted System 44 in seven elementary schools and three middle schools. Students were selected to participate in System 44 if they performed poorly on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP), scored below 400 Lexile® (L) measures on the Reading Inventory®, and exhibited difficulty with word-reading skills on the Phonics Inventory®. Of these participants, 64% were designated as students with disabilities and 20% were English learners (EL). In addition, 40% of these participants were African American, 25% were White, 19% were Hispanic, 12% were multiracial, 2% were Asian, and 4% were not identified. All classrooms implemented a stand-alone model of System 44, with the classroom period varying from 60 to 90 minutes based on school schedule. All classrooms followed a rotational model, including a whole-group introduction in which the teacher led a short warm-up activity to engage students and build phonemic awareness and phonics skills, followed by 20- to 25-minute rotations on the instructional software and in small-group instruction.


Phonics Inventory, the Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE), and Reading Inventory were administered to all System 44 students in the fall of 2009 and spring of 2010. As shown in Graph 1, AAPS System 44 students in Grades 3–8 averaged a significant gain of three points in Total Fluency on the Phonics Inventory. On average, the elementary school System 44 students gained three points in Fluency, while the middle school System 44 students averaged gains of two points in Fluency. Consistent with Phonics Inventory results, System 44 students evidenced significant gains in word-reading skills on the TOWRE Total Word Reading Efficiency from pretest to posttest. On average, students improved from a standard score of 77 to 81, which corresponds to moving from the 6th to the 10th percentile. White, Hispanic, African American, and multiracial students averaged significant gains, as well (Table 1). Reading Inventory data was also analyzed for the 108 AAPS System 44 students who had valid pretest and posttest scores. Results demonstrated significant gains in reading comprehension over the 2009–2010 school year. On average, AAPS System 44 students improved from a pretest score of 84L to a posttest score of 207L, resulting in a statistically significant gain of 123L. White, Hispanic, African American, and multiracial students averaged significant gains of 153L, 70L, 126L, and 164L, respectively (Graph 2).

2.1 Ann Arbor Graph 1

GRAPH 1. Ann Arbor Public Schools System 44 Students, Grades 3–8 (N=118)

Phonics Inventory Total Fluency Score Gains by School Level, 2009–2010

Note. Phonics Inventory fluency gains were significant for the elementary school sample (Fluency: t=6.32, p=.00), middle school sample (Fluency: t=2.62, p=.01), and overall sample (Fluency: t=6.83, p=.00).

2.1 Ann Arbor Table 1
Note. Total Word Reading Efficiency gains were statistically significant overall (t=6.26, p=.00), for Whites (t=2.56, p=.02), Hispanics (t=3.55, p=.00), African Americans (t=3.99, p=.00), and for multiracial students (t=2.17, p=.05). Values in table are rounded to the nearest integer.
2.1 Ann Arbor Graph 2

GRAPH 2. Ann Arbor Public Schools System 44 Students, Grades 3–8 (N=90)

Performance on Reading Inventory by Ethnicity, 2009–2010

Note. Asian students (n=2) and Other Race students (n=3) were not included in the above graph. Reading Inventory Lexile gains were significant overall (t=8.02, p=.00), for Whites (t=4.42, p=.00), Hispanics (t=3.71, p=.00), African Americans (t=5.18, p=.00), and for multiracial students (t=2.56, p=.00).