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Lexia Core-5

Lexia Core 5 is a structured literacy reading program that uses both computer based lessons and in class lesson plans. The program uses a learning management system, to individualize instruction to students reading needs. It also uses game-based learning to teach students, phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. It offers specific support for ELL students, which might make it a uniquely valuable tool for teachers with students whose first language is not English. It is not meant to be a complete curriculum, but rather a supplementary addition to a regular instruction. While this might seem like a weakness, It can also be a strength for tier 2 and 3 instruction, as the program is specifically designed for teachers to implement in addition to their regular programming. 


Of course, as I try to always point out, the efficacy of a pedagogical concept or product cannot be truly validated without a peer-reviewed meta-analysis. However, similar to almost all literacy programs, no such study exists. However, there have been dozens of studies conducted on Lexia Core 5 and I was able to conduct my own non peer reviewed meta-analysis of the topic. I searched for studies on Google, the Lexia website, Education Source, and Scholar's portal. I excluded all studies which did not include a control group or did not include sufficient data for me to code an effect size (ES). For the studies included, I used the original authors ES, if available, if not, I calculated an ES by dividing the difference between groups, by the mean SD.

I was able to find 9 studies that matched this criteria, of which 5 were RCT studies. All but 1 of these studies showed a statistically significant effect. One study showed a negative effect size. Additionally several of these studies used other structured literacy programs for control groups. The studies included a diverse set of populations including tier 3 instruction, and intermediate classes. Overall, these factors make the research more high quality and reliable than the industry average; however, they might also deflate the mean ES.  



Studies Included:


Macaruso 2009: This study was an RCT study on grade 6 and 7 remedial students. The study included 47 students and examined word attack outcomes. The study lasted 9 months. 


Macaruso 2011: This study was an RCT study on Pre-K students. It included 19 students total and looked at reading scores and Phonemic Awareness. The control group also had phonics instruction. The study lasted 4 months. 


Schecter 2015: This study was a quasi-experimental study of grade 1 and 2 students. It included 92 students and lasted 1 year. The study looked at reading, vocabulary and comprehension. 


Macaruso 2015: This study was an RCT study on grade 1 ELL students. It included 83 students and lasted 9 months. The study looked at reading, vocabulary and comprehension. 


Hurwitz 2020: This study was an RCT study of grade 6-8 students. It included 155 students and lasted 1 year. The study looked at reading outcomes. 


Macaruso 2011: The study was an RCT study of ELL kindergarten students. It included 66 students and lasted 8 months. The control group also received phonics instruction. The study looked at reading and PA. 


Macaruso 2008: This study was a quasi-experimental study of kindergarten students. It included 71 students and lasted 6 months. The authors looked at letter recognition and PA. 


Macaruso 2006: This study was an RCT study of grade 1 at risk readers. It included 179 students, lasted 6 months, and used a control group that also had phonics instruction. It looked at reading and decoding. 


Wikes 2016: This study was a quasi-experimental study of grade 2 students. It included 74 students and lasted 1 year. It looked at reading scores only. 




While the effect sizes found for Lexia are only slightly above average, the program has far more high quality research than any other language program I have examined, which makes me more convinced by its results. The program also used study conditions for multiple studies that would likely deflate results. It is one of the only programs with sufficient research on intermediate students, tier 2/3 instruction, and ELL instruction. The program does not include a full curriculum, so it is challenging to compare to other programs qualitatively. While research outcomes for Lexia are higher than average, it has shown lower outcomes for at risk readers. Moreover, it does not include any research on tier three instruction. 


Final Grade: B

A meta-analysis found an ES of .40. Most of the program’s principles are evidence-based.


Qualitative Grade: 7/10

The program includes the following essential types of instruction: Individualized, scaffolded, phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension. 


Written by Nathaniel Hansford

Last Edited 2022-07-24


Rachel Schechter, Paul Macaruso, Elizabeth R. Kazakoff & Elizabeth Brooke (2015) Exploration of a Blended Learning Approach to Reading Instruction for Low SES Students in Early Elementary Grades, Computers in the Schools, 32:3-4, 183-200, DOI: 10.1080/07380569.2015.1100652


Macaruso, P., Hook, P. E., & McCabe, R. (2006). The efficacy of computer-based supplementary phonics programs for advancing reading skills in at-risk elementary students. Journal of Research in Reading, 29(2), 162–172.


Macaruso, P., & Rodman, A. (2011). Efficacy of Computer-Assisted Instruction for the Development of Early Literacy Skills in Young Children. Reading Psychology, 32(2), 172–196.


Hurwitz, L.B. (2020). Supporting Struggling and Non-Proficient Middle School Readers with the Lexia PowerUp Literacy Program. Concord, MA: Lexia Learning Systems LLC, A Rosetta Stone Company


S, Wilkes, Et al. (2016). Exploration of a Blended Lerning Approach to Reading Instruction in Second Grade. Edmedia. Retrieved from <>. 


Macaruso, P., & Walker, A. (2008). The Efficacy of Computer-Assisted Instruction for Advancing Literacy Skills in Kindergarten Children. Reading Psychology, 29(3), 266–287.


Schechter, R., Macaruso, P., Kazakoff, E.R. and Brooke, E. (2015). Exploration of a blended learning approach to reading instruction for low SES students in early elementary grades. Computers in the Schools, 32, 183–200.


Macaruso, P., & Rodman, A. (2011). Benefits of Computer-Assisted Instruction to Support Reading Acquisition in English Language Learners. Bilingual Research Journal, 34(3), 301–315.


Paul Macaruso & Alyson Rodman (2009) Benefits of computer‐assisted instruction for struggling readers in middle school, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 24:1, 103-113, DOI: 10.1080/08856250802596774

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