Christina Riley: January 30, 2020


Why after 20 years of reform are student scores stagnant on the Nation’s Report Card? Find out how one national nonprofit is changing the story on student literacy scores

Christina Riley

EL Education Director of Curriculum Design



Every two years, 4th and 8th grade students across the United States are given a reading assessment known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or the “Nation’s Scorecard.” The test measures reading comprehension by asking students to read selected grade-appropriate materials and answer questions based on what they have read. In 2019, nearly 294,000 students participated. In both grades, the average reading scores were lower in 2019 than they were in 2017.

Despite these disappointing results, new approaches are providing hope in major districts and communities that have historically struggled with childhood literacy. EL Education, a nonprofit created out of a collaboration between The Harvard Graduate School of Education and Outward Bound USA, is proving in districts across the country that pairing the research-informed EL Education K-8 Language Arts curriculum with professional development leads to student achievement. 

For example, a recent study of K-2 students in a large district in Tennessee examined the impact on student literacy achievement of the EL Education K-2 ELA curriculum. The study found schools that implemented the Skills Block and Modules (two components of EL Education’s curriculum) with EL Education support had significantly higher student achievement compared to a matched national comparison group.

Similarly, after just one year of literacy partnership with EL Education, students in Detroit Public Schools Community District posted their highest-ever scores on the Michigan ELA assessment. In all but one tested grade, they also outperformed the state in growth. Students’ 2019 test scores showed the greatest single-year improvement on the state tests in the history of the exam. After adopting a new curriculum and systematic support, Detroit has emerged as a model for resilience and results.

Finally, a five-year independent study of 12,000 students from 70 schools and 18 districts across the US found that teachers improved their classroom teaching and students achieved higher scores on their state tests in schools combining EL Education’s curriculum and professional development. Economically disadvantaged students made up 71% of students were economically disadvantaged.

On January 30, EL Education Director of Curriculum Design, Christina Riley will be available for interviews. She will discuss the research-informed EL Education literacy program results and how similar results can be achieved in other school districts. She will also share the recent Nation’s Scorecard results for your local region.


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More About Christina Riley:

Christina Riley is currently the Director of Curriculum Design, overseeing curriculum design for EL Education. Prior to this, she was a lead designer on the nationally renowned EL Education English Language Arts curriculum, which is currently EdReports’ highest-rated elementary ELA curriculum. Before joining EL, Christina served as an Elementary Curriculum Design Specialist for Socratic Arts, designing a STEM curriculum for elementary students, and participated in various curriculum design projects as an independent consultant including creating educational resources for middle school students for a NASA/ISTE project. Christina began her career in education as an elementary teacher and subject manager at public schools in the UK before moving to teach at two international schools in Japan. Christina holds a Master of Science in education from California State University and currently lives in Lyons, Colorado.


Produced for: EL Education


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