January 3, 2023

Decades of research show that all students benefit from reading instruction that explicitly and systematically addresses five key areas: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. This important research, which is also known as the Science of Reading, guides Renaissance product development as we identify new ways to help you teach and assess these essential literacy skills.

Read on for a summary of what’s new—not just for your elementary learners but for middle and high school students as well. You’ll find full details on our Product Updates Blog, which we invite you to visit throughout the year for the latest Renaissance news and resources.

Easily connect phonics assessment to skills instruction

Last spring, we were thrilled to welcome Star Phonics to the Renaissance family. Aligned with the Science of Reading, Star Phonics is the only assessment to screen and diagnose 12 phonics categories and 102 essential skills. Star Phonics is easy to implement and administer and provides immediate, easy-to-use reporting:

Easy-to-use reporting from Star   

Once you’ve assessed students with Star Phonics, you can use our new crosswalk to connect each student with the right foundational literacy lessons in our Lalilo practice program. The crosswalk lists each of the categories measured by Star Phonics, including contractions, digraphs, blends, r-controlled vowels, and more. It then shows you the Lalilo lesson(s) that provide learners with engaging instruction and practice on each phonics skill:

Star Phonics - Lailo crosswalk   

If you’re not already using Star Phonics, we invite you to learn more about the science behind this unique assessment. You can also try Star Phonics for yourself with a free 90-day trial.

Drive greater foundational literacy growth for every learner

In addition to the new crosswalk, Lalilo offers a variety of helpful new features to engage your learners in foundational literacy development. New Direct Instruction lessons give students guided practice on important concepts in Grammar and Conventions, such as collective nouns. New and enhanced comprehension books feature larger images, easier navigation, and expanded standards coverage. A new Teacher Implementation Guide helps you to get started quickly and to make the best use of Lalilo throughout the year. And a new Nearpod Lessons List provides one-click access to student-friendly instructional resources for phonics and word families.

Lalilo Direct Instruction   

If you’re not using Lalilo yet, see the latest research on the program’s effectiveness and its alignment to the Science of Reading. You can also create a free account to try Lalilo with your students this winter.

Assess sight words and encoding skills with curriculum-based measures

To become successful readers and writers, students need strong sight-word recognition and encoding (or spelling) skills. If you use Star CBM Reading, you have early access to new measures for Sight and High-Frequency Words (grades K–3) and for Encoding (grades K–6). We’re field testing these measures during the 2022–2023 school year, and each administration will inform our process of determining grade-level benchmarks:

New Star CBM Reading Measure   

The new Sight and High-Frequency Word measures are one-minute assessments administered 1:1, with the student reading each word aloud. Encoding measures require students to translate a spoken word to written form and can be administered to a whole class or to individual students.

Star CBM Reading is available as part of the Star Assessments suite and provides opportunities for direct assessment of essential literacy skills. You can learn more about the design of Star CBM Reading—and how it works hand-in-hand with the computer-adaptive Star tests to support students’ reading development—in this article written by one of the assessment’s creators.

Promote equity and accessibility in test administration

Star CBM Reading and Star CBM Math now include braille support to provide blind and visually impaired students with the same testing opportunities as their sighted peers. Braille measures are transcribed and included in Star CBM as downloadable .BRF files for use with a braille embosser. All forms of the measures listed below are available in braille to support both universal screening and progress monitoring:

Star CBM Reading Measures with braille support   

In addition, you can now more easily enable testing accommodations in the computer-adaptive Star Reading and Star Math assessments in English. Available accommodations include response making, color contrast, zoom, a line reader, and more. You’ll find information about the accommodations provided to each student on the Star Diagnostic Report, Test Activity Report, and Test Record Report.

The addition of these assistive tools and technologies helps all students to demonstrate what they know and can do—and provides you with greater insight into students’ progress in literacy and math throughout the year.

Build students’ reading comprehension and social-emotional skills

Wide independent reading is critical for building background knowledge and vocabulary, while also helping students to develop important social and emotional competencies such as self-awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. You’ll find great new content and features in our myON digital reading platform to support student engagement and social-emotional learning (SEL) this year:

  • myON offers more than 250 new titles, including decodables, chapter books, and books in Spanish. This includes both the myON Core Collection, with titles from the Capstone family of imprints, and the Harper Collins Third Party Collections for Early Elementary Phonics and Upper Elementary Fiction.
  • myON has several new features to further enhance its World Languages support. First, myON News articles are now available in Arabic and Mandarin, with natural-voice audio narration in each language. myON News publishes five articles each weekday, and all articles are reviewed by a child psychologist for appropriateness. In addition, the myON interface can now be displayed in Portuguese, to give students an additional option for navigating the program.
  • To support SEL instructional practices in the classroom, myON now includes ready-made SEL projects for pre-K through grade 12 learners. These projects include tasks related to reading, writing, news, and using myON’s graphic organizer, and they support topics such as emotions, critical thinking, social awareness, and promoting well-being. Many of the projects align with the CASEL framework for applying evidence-based SEL strategies to daily learning.
New myON Projects for SEL   

myON also has a new student-recorded read-aloud feature to give learners new opportunities for oral reading practice and fluency development. We’re excited to share that students have used this feature more than three million times since its release last August!

Match students with engaging literacy and math skills practice

Last fall, we welcomed FastBridge assessments to the Renaissance family. FastBridge provides universal screening and progress monitoring for reading, math, and social-emotional behavior (SEB) from kindergarten through grade 12.

Districts using FastBridge now have the option of connecting students’ assessment scores to our Freckle practice program and to myON, eliminating the need for students to take separate placement tests within these programs. With this new connection, students can begin practicing essential ELA and math skills at the right level in Freckle, and can more easily find just-right digital books in myON:

  • In Freckle for ELA, students’ levels are set based on their performance on the FastBridge aReading assessment.
  • In Freckle for math, students’ levels are set for each domain based on their performance on the FastBridge aMath assessment.
  • In myON, students’ Lexile®-based reading levels are set using aReading assessment results.

The connection between FastBridge, Freckle, and myON is done by your Renaissance Implementation Manager via a data upload and is available at no additional cost.

Drive greater student growth this year

As 2023 gets underway, you’ll find more new features in your Renaissance programs to help accelerate students’ growth in both literacy and math. For example, Star provides a new report that enables you to easily share test results with students during conversations around their progress and goals. Also, Star’s Growth Proficiency Chart now includes visual indicators for Low, Typical, and High Growth to help you better understand performance at the district, school, class, and student levels.

Administrators using our Schoolzilla platform have access to new search and filter options to help streamline their reporting processes. And Schoolzilla Starter has a new name—Renaissance Analytics—to reflect its role in bringing together usage and performance data from all of your district’s Renaissance assessment and practice programs. (Freckle data is available currently, and additional practice programs will be added this year.)

We have a number of additional enhancements planned for the months ahead. If you haven’t already, bookmark our Product Updates Blog, where you’ll always find the latest information. Also, subscribe to the Renaissance newsletter to receive updates and helpful resources right in your in-box. And if you’d like to learn more about Star Phonics, Lalilo, or other Renaissance programs, please let us know. We’re here to help.

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