Website review by James Denby, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2020

ReadTheory

Useful if not exciting adaptive tool for assessing reading ability

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 9 reviews
Privacy rating
68%| Warning Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
K–12
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, College & Career Prep
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Pros: Reports provide great data for conferencing, and progress tracking helps get students test-ready.

Cons: There's no student choice of texts, and while it mimics standardized testing, that's also a drawback for engagement.

Bottom Line: It's very utilitarian, but what it does it does well: getting students test-ready by effectively assessing and tracking reading ability.

ReadTheory is self-contained, and its biggest use case is as a time-saving tool that keeps teachers from having to individually assess students' reading levels. What's particularly nice is that these periodic assessments don't necessarily need to take place in the classroom. Plus, all data is centralized and all assessments are tuned to students' abilities thanks to a diagnostic assessment. 

Beyond the assessments, teachers may find it helpful to plan conferencing conversations and future targeted instruction around the valuable data provided in ReadTheory's progress reports. These reports contain tons of data for analysis: pretest averages, program averages, grade-level progression, Lexile level progression, mastery of ELA Common Core standards, quiz history, and how a student's reading level has fluctuated with each quiz. Unfortunately, lessons aren't provided on ReadTheory, but teachers can check out an associated site for those materials. ReadTheory does provide a limited list of free printables, great for RTI or other reading interventions.

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ReadTheory is a K-12 online reading comprehension program that assesses reading ability and builds reading comprehension by providing texts for students to read at a "just right" level. Over 1,000 informational and narrative passages are leveled by grade and Lexile level. ReadTheory's algorithm senses student performance and is able to adapt to fit reading needs. As students read and answer quiz questions, ReadTheory presents passages (either more complex or less) that aim to find and establish the right level for each student. It's web-based and usable on both desktop and mobile devices, so students can access their accounts wherever they are.

To begin, teachers create a free account and then create a new class (which can support a maximum of 35 student accounts). Students log in (providing their teacher's email so that they can be added to the class) and are prompted to begin their independent reading pretest. This initial reading assessment takes about 20 minutes to complete and includes vocabulary questions as well as explicit and implicit reading comprehension questions related to several reading passages. This pretest establishes a student's initial reading level and reading comprehension abilities. After the pretest, students then work through passages and quizzes tailored to their level. Teachers monitor progress on the Progress Reports page, which shows data based on reading level progression as well as performance on each of the ELA Common Core-aligned reading comprehension question types. Teachers should be aware that ads display alongside reading passages.

ReadTheory addresses discouraged and frustrated readers by helping teachers assess students' reading abilities, so that teachers can better connect them to relevant reading activities outside of the ReadTheory platform. While it's not a completely standalone reading program, ReadTheory makes differentiation easier for a classroom of students. It's genuinely useful and time-saving, especially given the solid data teachers get on each student. At the same time, ReadTheory's plug-and-play-style assessment and text-leveling can feel limiting. Neither teachers nor students can adjust levels or make text selections to best fit students' abilities and interests. There is, however, the option to choose a larger text size, and students can work at their own pace. Moreover, while some quiz questions are challenging, students receive feedback including explanations for any wrong answers. The passages and questions provided by ReadTheory are similar to those students may encounter on standardized tests, which makes this a particularly great resource for test prep but not so much for engaging students or developing reading habits.

While the design of the tool and its test-like format aren't the most engaging way to read, students are encouraged to read via Knowledge Points, which they receive for answering questions correctly, answering challenge questions, and completing written response questions that are then graded by their teacher. Some students might enjoy challenging themselves to gain more Knowledge Points, earn new badges, and track their progress.

Overall Rating

Engagement

The design and texts are utilitarian; students log in and get presented with quizzes and texts. Students can track progress, but they can't choose texts or even topics of interest.

Pedagogy

The Common Core-aligned leveled texts build comprehension. The quizzes assess and adjust passages to target student need. The test-like format doesn't support student choice or creativity, however.

Support

The directions are easy to follow, and students see correct answers and explanations when they answer incorrectly. The teacher dashboard provides useful reports and worksheets for extension. 


Common Sense reviewer
James Denby Educator/Curriculum Developer

Community Rating

(See all 9 reviews) (9 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Sabrina C. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Del Lago Academy - Campus of Applied Science
Escondido, United States
Great data but groanworthy busy work for students
I really liked how it automatically adjusted passages provided to their level. However, the lack of control over topics makes it less useful than tools like CommonLit, where you can match readings to your current focus. The data provided was great, but I do wonder how affected it was by lack of student buy in. It is gamified, but the badges didn't have any draw for my 9th graders. Students would often complain they got one question wrong and were dropped multiple grade levels. Most concerningly, after a ...
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Data Safety
How safe is this product?
Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
Users cannot interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
Profile information is shared for social interactions.
Data Rights
What rights do I have to the data?
Unclear whether opt-in consent is requested from users at the time personal information is collected.
Unclear whether users can control their information through privacy settings.
Unclear whether users can create or upload content.
Ads & Tracking
Are there advertisements or tracking?
Data are not shared for third-party advertising and/or marketing.
Traditional or contextual advertisements are displayed.
Behavioral or targeted advertising is not displayed.

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