The Effects of Nessy on Reading Growth When Used at Home During the Covid-19 Pandemic

March 17 - April 30, 2020


Between mid March and May 2020 during the Covid-19 Crisis, the Nessy Reading & Spelling and Writing Beach programs were used by several thousand children in their homes around the world, under the direction of parents and caregivers.

Nessy Learning gave thousands of schools the use of its educational platform to disburse freely to students working from home, in an effort to ease the burden on educators who were having to quickly implement remote learning.

Two programs were offered;  Nessy Reading & Spelling and Writing Beach.

Student results from two European schools and two north American Schools are analyzed in this study.

An analysis of student test results in these schools, found that students using the Nessy materials remotely made an average of one grade level growth in reading on the Nessy Target Assessmet during this period.

Two schools from North America and two schools from Europe were randomly selected for data analysis.

This data collection was comprised of schools or districts with at least half of their participating students working a minimum of 40 minutes per week in the Reading & Spelling program.

Learning Remotely

Student data was collected between March 17, 2020 and April 30, 2020.

The assessment data measures the progress of students working with Nessy Reading and Spelling during this time.

Amount of Usage

Students used the program for 40 minutes or more each week. They worked for 1 - 4 weeks between their pre-assessment and first progress monitoring assessments.

Programs Used

Two programs were offered;  Nessy Reading & Spelling and Writing Beach.

Reading & Spelling

Nessy Reading & Spelling is a Structured Literacy Program designed for students 6-11 years of age.  The Grade Equivalency of the teaching materials ranges from Kindergarten to late grade 5.  The computer guided system creates custom lesson plans for individual students. The students begin with a pre-assessment and the program monitors progress, reassessing the student every 5 lessons.  The program is based upon the Science of Reading and focuses on phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary development, and reading fluency. Spelling lessons are taught alongside reading lessons. As students gain literacy skills, other elements of language are addressed including morphology, etymology, and syntax.

The program is delivered online, and children work though the lessons independently. Interactive activities are supported and extended by over 1000 printable worksheets, wordlists, flashcards, and games that may be used by teachers or parents to enrich and supplement the digital lessons.

Writing Beach

Writing Beach is an online and printable worksheet based program that instructs students aged 7-14 in the building blocks of written language. The program focuses on sentence construction, grammar, punctuation and strategies that teach students a structure to follow when writing.

Inclusion Criteria

Inclusion Criteria

The results of students who met the study criteria were analyzed from the four schools included in the study.


    • Students began work after their school was closed, therefore the study presumes work was completed from home
    •  Students worked online for at least 40 minutes per week on average
    •  Students worked with the program for a minimum of 1 week before taking first progress monitoring assessment
    • Students with a Reading Level of less than 5.8 (end of 5th grade)

Students who were flagged by the program as requiring a proctor were not included in the data set because of the requirement to be re-tested with teacher supervision. Because these students were working from home during lockdown and shelter in place orders, a teacher was not available.

Weeks worked were not rounded up and counted in 7 day increments.


School Demographics

Demographics of the Sampled Schools

Primary School in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

Ofsted Rating – GOOD

Percentage of children eligible for free school meals - 12.8%

  • School serves pupils in age range 4 - 11
  • Number of pupils 358

Primary School in Northamptonshire, United Kingdom

Ofsted Rating – GOOD

Percentage of children eligible for free school meals - 2%

  • School serves pupils in age range 4 - 11
  • Number of pupils 244

Elementary School in East Texas, USA

Texas State Accountability Rating C (on an A-F scale)

Free/discounted lunch recipients:  53.3%

  • Public School for grade 3-4
  • Number of enrolled students:  796

Elementary School in Northern California, USA

Overall School Rank: Top 10% in CA

Math Proficiency: (Top 5% in CA)

Reading Proficiency: (Top 10% in CA)

Free/discounted lunch recipients:  3%

  • Public School for Grades  Kindergarten-5
  • Number of enrolled students:  728



Students on average gained a grade level in reading as measured by the Nessy Target Assessment while learning remotely from home, during the COVID-19 School Closures. This is far above the expected growth for the same period of time within a school setting.

Based on the findings outlined above, we conclude that Nessy Reading and Spelling is an effective solution to teach students with a Structured Literacy Approach, based upon the Science of Reading, without a teacher trained in these methods. These are important findings because school districts find themselves with many students falling below minimum reading standards, and without adequate numbers of staff who have been trained in Science of Reading based methodology.

We surmise that adding a primary or elementary teacher who has been trained to teach reading, following the Science of Reading, would improve these outcomes even further.

Tiffany James CSLT, Language and Literacy Specialist

Director of Educational Development

Educational Consultant, Dyslexia Specialist, Reading Specialist, Certified Dyslexia Tutor, Qualified Dyslexia Specialist Assessor, BDA Dyslexia Accredited level 3 and Dyscalculia level 2

May 2020


The results in this document were collated and analyzed by Nessy Learning. It has not been peer reviewed. This is a report of the results of students using the program's assessment tool who were working from home during school closures, therefore we have no information about levels of parental support or details of student demographics in addition to the general school information reported above.