CommonLit Schools & Districts Case Study: Lakewood Middle School’s Success with CommonLit 360

After a year of implementing CommonLit 360, Lakewood Middle School saw increases in NJSLA performance, student engagement, and teacher satisfaction

Lakewood Middle School, located in Lakewood Township, New Jersey, began implementing CommonLit 360, a full-year standards-based ELA curriculum, during the 22-23 school year. On the end-of-year state ELA assessment (NJSLA), the number of Lakewood Middle School students who met or exceeded expectations was 10.5 percentage points higher in SY 22-23 than in SY 21-22. Importantly, the more CommonLit 360 lessons students experienced, the better they tended to perform on the NJSLA. 

Beyond test scores, educators shared during interviews that CommonLit 360 had a positive impact on their students and their jobs. Students found CommonLit 360 to be engaging and personally relevant. Educators consistently highlighted their favorite aspects of CommonLit 360, including the efficient planning and real-time, meaningful student data, and shared that CommonLit 360 made their jobs easier.

About the Case Study

In this case study, CommonLit examined Lakewood’s ELA scores from the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment (NJSLA). The NJSLA dataset included scores from 915 Lakewood Middle School students (295 6th graders, 274 7th graders, and 346 8th graders), with 89% Hispanic or Latino students, 25% English Language learners, 94% economically disadvantaged students, and 33% students with disabilities. To understand more about students’ and teachers’ experiences with CommonLit 360, CommonLit interviewed four educators from Lakewood. Lakewood Middle School is a Title I eligible school and a digital 1:1 school (1 device per student).

The number of CommonLit 360 lessons that students experienced statistically significantly predicted their scores on the NJSLA, p < .001. In other words, the more CommonLit 360 lessons students experienced, the better they tended to perform on the NJSLA. Lakewood teachers attributed their students’ success on the NJSLA to CommonLit 360. During the interview, Sarah Johnson, Lakewood’s Literacy Coach for Grades 7-12, noted, “Our scores were phenomenal… A lot of our students really improved… For the most part, the questions that you guys ask are harder than the ones they see on the state test. CommonLit prepares them.” 

Key Finding #2: Lakewood Middle School students’ scores on the state ELA assessment were 10.5 percentage points higher in SY 22-23 than in SY 21-22

The number of students who met or exceeded expectations on the NJSLA was 10.5 percentage points higher in SY 22-23 than in SY 21-22. Figure 1 shows the percentage of students who scored in each performance category over the two school years. In SY 21-22, 32.5% of Lakewood Middle School students met or exceeded expectations. In SY 22-23, 43.0% met or exceeded expectations.

Figure 1. Lakewood Middle School students’ performance on the NJSLA in SY 21-22 compared to SY 22-23.

This increase in scores was not a statewide trend. When looking at NJSLA scores from all middle school students in New Jersey, the number of students who met or exceeded expectations was only 2.9 percentage points higher in SY 22-23 than in SY 21-22 (see Figure 2). 

Figure 2. Percent of middle school students at Lakewood Middle School and the state of New Jersey meeting or exceeding expectations on the NJSLA.

Key Finding #3: Students found CommonLit 360 to be engaging and personally relevant

Educators also shared that students enjoyed the variety of texts in CommonLit 360 and found them to be engaging and personally relevant. Alicia Intromasso, Lakewood’s Special Education Coordinator and 7th grade ELA teacher, shared, “The variety of texts that we're able to read is a good mix. It's highly relatable to our student population… When they're working, it's beautiful to watch. I love listening to them reading with each other and talking about text and not worrying about what's happening at home for those 80 minutes that I have them. 80 minutes is a long time, but the kids say, ‘Wow, we only have 10 minutes left?’ So that's good.” 

Similarly, Lakewood’s ELA Supervisor for Grades 3-12, Kevin Walters, shared, “A huge selling point of CommonLit was the diversity of authors and the diversity of the characters in the fiction pieces. Our students hear this from 3rd grade to 12th grade – fiction is windows and mirrors. CommonLit does a really good job of showing a mirror to the students, so the students can see themselves in what they're reading. With the older textbooks, that wasn’t really the case. It was all windows into other worlds. CommonLit does a good job of doing both equally.”

Key Finding #4: CommonLit 360 made educators’ jobs easier

Lakewood teachers shared that CommonLit 360 made their jobs easier and more efficient. Teachers consistently highlighted how the student data on the platform saved them time and gave them the tools they needed to determine where their students were struggling or succeeding. Ashley Scafiddi, 8th grade ELA teacher, said, “I love CommonLit. I think it has made teaching a lot easier, especially with that instant data. It's my go-to phrase: ‘The data is data-ing.’ Students are clearly getting better.” 

Walters underscored a lot of these ideas about data-driven instruction. “The data dashboard was a big help… Many times we may have to report – sometimes at the drop of a hat. CommonLit has been helpful with that, too. It's right there. I’ve generated spreadsheets from the dashboard and am able to put that into presentations very easily, very quickly.”

Additionally, CommonLit 360 made lesson planning easier by providing a full year of curriculum resources and support. Alicia Intromasso shared, “The platform’s easy to use. Everything is right there, the materials are there, everything you need is there. Especially the data and the grading. It's been so much easier. It's more effective because it's immediate.” Additionally, Sarah Johnson shared, “Planning is so much easier, because now I'm not searching for something that matches the standard. CommonLit already aligns to the standard… By far, my lesson planning and my data collection has been so much better than it's ever been in the past. It’s because it's all right there for you.”

In sum, during their first year of implementing CommonLit 360, Lakewood Middle School saw increases in students’ NJSLA scores, student engagement, and teacher satisfaction. To learn more about how Lakewood students and teachers benefited from their partnership with CommonLit, read the full report here.

Get these results in your district

Find out how you can see the same growth with CommonLit 360 for grades 6-12, which received an all-green rating from EdReports for grades 6-8, in your school or district today.