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95 Phonics Core Program Earns Evidence for ESSA Strong Rating for Tier 1

Evidence for ESSA STRONG from 95 Percent Group.

Rigorous independent efficacy research confirms phonics program accelerates reading improvement for all K-2 students

Lincolnshire, IL – April 16, 202395 Percent Group LLC, the trusted source for comprehensive, proven literacy solutions, today announced that its 95 Phonics Core Program® is now listed as Strong on the Evidence for ESSA website for Tier 1, Whole-Class Instruction. The strong rating confirms that the program’s research meets federal standards under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for demonstrating the highest level of evidence.

Based at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Research and Reform in Education, Evidence for ESSA was established following the 2015 Congressional approval of the federal act and provides independent, authoritative information on program research that meets the ESSA evidence standards. As a leading resource in the field, the website enables educators and communities to select effective instructional tools to improve student outcomes.

“At 95 Percent Group, we make a deep investment in research both to inform the development of our offerings and to demonstrate their efficacy to educators around the country,” said Brad Lindaas, Chief Executive Officer. “This recognition from Evidence for ESSA further validates what we have seen clearly in schools and districts. Our 95 Phonics Core Program is an effective, efficient, and joyful method for supporting all children in reading improvement and for helping them pursue a literate life.”

The independent efficacy study that earned the 95 Phonics Core Program Evidence for ESSA approval was conducted by an independent research firm, Learning Experience Design Research and Consulting (LXD Research), in partnership with Fort Zumwalt School District R-II, in O’Fallon, Missouri. Sixteen schools with more than 3,000 K-2 students participated during the 2021-2022 school year. The study, which met ESSA Level 1 Strong criteria, demonstrated that the program resulted in literacy gains for all students learning with the 95 Phonics Core Program, compared to randomly selected control students that did not use the program. Evidence for ESSA evaluates studies submitted against a set of rigorous criteria; studies must be scientifically robust and show a significant impact on student outcomes to be accepted.

LXD Research founder Rachel Schechter, Ph.D., explained, “95 Percent Group products are grounded in the science of learning and this is an important recognition of that. Our research affirmed that the uniquely paced instructional routines and multisensory strategies of the 95 Phonics Core Program established a solid phonics foundation for K-2 students, accelerating literacy skill development across all demographic groups. Importantly teachers expressed high satisfaction with the quality and usefulness of the program resources, indicating they increased student engagement and facilitated learning.”

Today too many children are behind in developing literacy skills. In the U.S., 65 percent of fourth graders scored basic or below basic levels in reading, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress. While many factors contribute to low reading achievement, nearly every child can learn to read with evidence-based instruction. The goal is for about 80 to 85 percent of the class to be taught well in Tier 1, which means fewer children require intervention in Tiers 2 and 3.

95 Phonics Core Program is a whole-class, Tier 1 program that is based upon 95 Percent Group’s structured literacy instructional approach. It is now available to support students in their literacy journey throughout their critical K-5 years. Teachers credit the program with improved student development for skills such as demonstrating phonics patterns, understanding of text, writing word chains, and blending CVC words.

As one veteran teacher from the study said, “My kindergarteners can decode words better than any year I’ve ever taught. No matter what I tried in the past, it was never a consistent program where I knew I was hitting everything in a strategic way. And I’m telling you, they are reading better than they ever have. I feel like they are so much further ahead of where I have sent kids headed to first grade before.”

About 95 Percent Group

95 Percent Group is an education company whose mission is to build on science to empower teachers—supplying the knowledge, resources, and support they need—to develop strong readers. Using an approach that is based in structured literacy, the company’s One95 literacy ecosystem integrates professional learning and evidence-based literacy products into one cohesive system that supports consistent instructional routines across tiers and is proven and trusted to help students close skill gaps and read fluently. 95 Percent Group is also committed to advancing research, best practices, and thought leadership on the science of reading more broadly. For additional information on 95 Percent Group, visit:

About LXD Research

LXD Research is an independent evaluation, research, and consulting division within Charles River Media Group focusing on educational programs. We design rigorous research studies, multifaceted data analytic reporting, and dynamic content to disseminate insights. Visit


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