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Reading Level Improvement of Students Using Nessy Reading and Spelling as a Structured Synthetic Phonics Program

Data Analysed from Godley Elementary School, Texas USA, June 2019

How Effective is Nessy Reading and Spelling as an SSP (Structured Synthetic Phonics) Program?

Usage and Results Analysis 2019

An analysis of the student reading level growth from using the Nessy Reading and Spelling Program was conducted in June 2019. Data was collected from Godley Elementary School, in Godley, Texas USA. The Nessy Reading and Spelling program is an Orton-Gillingham influenced digital curriculum, that begins with SSP (Structured Synthetic Phonics). It is accessed online by computers or tablets.

The pre- and post-test scores were collected, and growth of the pupil's skills were calculated at the second (or post) assessment.

The creator and publisher of the curriculum, the Nessy Reading and Spelling program, was not involved with the administration of either the Reading and Spelling curriculum, or the assessments. The assessments were administered by school personnel, as part of the regular literacy instructional program on this campus.   

The School

Godley Elementary School is a campus that serves students in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and grades 1-3. It is in northwestern Johnson County, Texas, United States, in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. The school has 668 students on the roll with a student/teacher ratio of 15:1. The racial makeup is 67.1% white and 28.5% Hispanic. 59.1% of students receive free or discounted lunch.  14.5% of students are listed as having limited English proficiency, and 14.2% of students are in the bilingual program.


Students Godley Elementary

Students Texas Average

% English Language Learners (ELL) 



% Free/Reduced School Meals 



The Case Study

The data collected for this study was from student assessments and work completed during the spring term of 2019. The students were in kindergarten and first grade. The pre-tests were administered in mid- February 2019. 152 students spent an average of 60 minutes per week working in the program over a period of 6 -10 weeks, and subsequent post-tests were taken in late April or Early May 2019.

Participants and Methodology


The participants were a mixture of ability groups, and English language proficiency.


All students were tested with the Nessy Target Assessment prior to beginning work in the Nessy Reading and Spelling phonics-based literacy program.

The students worked for an average of 60 minutes per week on the Nessy curriculum in a RTI classroom on their campus, affectionately called “The Monster Lab”. This was done as part of their literacy block rotation.

Additionally, the classroom teachers had the option of putting students on the program in their individual classrooms during the regular computer rotation time. The students worked for an average of 8 weeks during the spring semester.

The work completed by the children was independent of teacher assistance, other than help students log on at the beginning of their sessions.

The students worked on both reading and spelling lessons during this time period, although only the results of the reading skills acquirement were analysed. An informal look at the data collected for spelling improvement suggests that similar results were obtained in spelling.

The Nessy Reading and Spelling program was implemented and overseen by RTI specialist Stacy Brown, and her colleague Renee McCoy.

The Nessy Reading Target Assessment

The Nessy Reading Target Assessment was developed in 2005 by Specialist Literacy Teachers, Dyslexia Specialists, and Educational Psychologists, at the Bristol Dyslexia Centre in Bristol, United Kingdom. It is a 'CLOZE' reading activity that measures the reading comprehension and spelling attainment of individuals from 5.5 to 13 years of age.  The assessment is also used to monitor the progress of students as they complete the SSP (Structured Synthetic Phonics) and Orton-Gillingham influenced phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary lessons within the Nessy instructional program.  

The students using Nessy Reading and Spelling gained on average half of a grade level in reading skills in approximately 6-10 weeks.


The average student gain in reading grade level was 0.5 or half of school year in an average of 8 weeks. An 8 week time period is about 0.22 of this school’s academic year. Those using Nessy exceeded the expected growth of 0.22, in fact they more than doubled it. The 152 first grade and kindergarten students used Nessy independently for an average of 60 minutes per week over 6-10 weeks.

The students using Nessy gained on average half of a grade level in reading skills, in just 6-10 weeks.

There was also a significant improvement over time for the students using the digital curriculum Nessy Reading and Spelling. Those who used the curriculum for 6-7 weeks gained 41% in grade level, and those that used the curriculum for 8-9 weeks gained 52% in grade level.

This suggests that continued use of Nessy is likely to ensure further improvements.


When used for 60 minutes a week or more, the Nessy Reading and Spelling program is highly effective in raising the reading level attainment of students in a general classroom setting. The program enables large groups of children to be instructed with SSP (Structured Synthetic Phonics), in an individualised way, meeting the unique needs of individual students within large classrooms. Learning can take place in various locations; general classrooms, computer or specialist labs or even at home, while being monitored by classroom teachers or teacher's assistants, and achieve very good results.

Tiffany James CSLT, Language and Literacy Specialist

Director of Educational Development

Educational Consultant, Dyslexia Specialist, Certified Dyslexia Tutor, Qualified Dyslexia Specialist Assessor, former Reading Specialist, BDA Dyslexia Accredited level 3 and Dyscalculia level 2, Certified RAVE-O practitioner and DIBELS trainer

June 14, 2019