Murrieta Valley Unified School District (MVUSD) is located in Murrieta, California, on the southwestern edge of Riverside County. MVUSD serves approximately 22,000 students across 18 schools from Grades K through 12. The majority of MVUSD students are either White (48%) or Hispanic (33%). Other ethnicities represented include African American (5%), Asian (4%), and Filipino (4%). Four percent are English learners (EL) and 11% are students with disabilities. Approximately one-quarter of all students in the district are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
During the 2010–2011 school year, students from 11 schools in MVUSD were selected to participate in a randomized controlled trial study based on a two-tiered screening process. Tier 1 consisted of students who performed below the 50th percentile on the California Standards Test of English Language Arts (CST ELA) and who scored below 600 Lexile® (L) measures on the Reading Inventory®. Tier 2 consisted of students who met Tier 1 criteria and also demonstrated foundational reading deficiencies (Beginning or Developing Decoder) on the Phonics Inventory®. Students who met Tier 2 criteria were placed into System 44 classrooms where they were expected to receive 60 minutes of System 44 instruction daily.
Phonics Inventory and CST ELA data were collected and analyzed for students who used the program during the 2010–2011 school year. Phonics Inventory results demonstrated that System 44 students significantly outperformed control group students in reading fluency (Graph 1). Results from the CST ELA showed a significant increase in the percentage of students who achieved proficiency for both the System 44 and control group students; however, System 44 students improved from 11% Proficient in 2010 to 41% Proficient in 2011, whereas control group students improved from 12% Proficient to 32% Proficient (Graph 2).
Additional analyses indicated that software dosage was significantly related to reading outcomes (Graph 3). Specifically, students who completed 100 or more topics out of a total of 160 System 44 topics made significantly higher gains than students who completed fewer than 100 topics on Woodcock-Johnson® III (WJ III®) Word Identification (p < .05), Phonics Inventory Sight Word Fluency (p < .001), Phonics Inventory Nonword Fluency (p < .001), and Phonics Inventory Total Fluency (p < .001).