McREL Study Finds Significant Impact With VocabularySpellingCity

Study Shows Significant Increase in Vocabulary Retention,
Reading Comprehension Among Students Using VocabularySpellingCity

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (April 26, 2017) – VocabularySpellingCity today published an efficacy study titled “VocabularySpellingCity: Proven to Increase Vocabulary Retention and Reading Comprehension.”

The report summarizes recent research conducted by McREL International and VocabularySpellingCity. The study examined the effects of word study and instruction using VocabularySpellingCity, a game-based, online literacy program designed to supplement English Language Arts curricula, in comparison to other, traditional word study approaches.

Administered in a Title I elementary school from October to December 2016, the study collected and analyzed data on vocabulary word retention and reading comprehension from general education, ELL, and ESE students.

The key finding was that VocabularySpellingCity had a measurable and significant impact on reading comprehension and Lexile® level (STAR™ data), as well as vocabulary retention (VocabularySpellingCity data).

The research results found:

  • A 43% increase in vocabulary retention mean scores.
  • A 21.5% increase in reading comprehension (STAR data) for native English speakers.
  • A 46.5% increase in reading comprehension (STAR data) for intermediate English speakers (English Language Learners/English for Speakers of Other Languages).

“We’re delighted the study confirms what we’ve observed informally, and what we’ve been told by so many educators and administrators,” said Barbara Kruger, director of professional development and learning partnerships for VocabularySpellingCity. “Teachers are struggling to find time to integrate vocabulary strategies into their existing lessons, and they’ve found VocabularySpellingCity is the solution: user-friendly, engaging, and effective at differentiating for groups and individual students.”

“In a relatively short period of time, the students participating in VocabularySpellingCity had significantly higher vocabulary retention and reading comprehension compared with their non-participating peers,” said Dr. Sheila Arens, an executive director of research at McREL. “Although this small-scale quasi-experimental study was limited to a single school, the results are promising. We look forward to opportunities to determine the stability of our findings — studying VocabularySpellingCity in a larger number of schools and employing an even more rigorous design.”

The report can be downloaded for free at

About McREL
McREL International is a non-profit, non-partisan education research and development organization that since 1966 has turned knowledge about what works in education into practical, effective guidance and training for K-12 teachers and education leaders across the U.S. and around the world. McREL’s expert researchers, evaluators, and educators blend analytic insights with practical school experience, helping schools, districts, networks, and agencies identify challenges in their system. Using a collaborative approach, McREL helps design and implement solutions that create a path for schools to reach their goals. To learn more, visit, or follow or

About VocabularySpellingCity
VocabularySpellingCity is an innovative, game-based website and app used to build K-12 literacy skills in vocabulary, spelling, phonics, and writing. Educators and families can customize more than 40 engaging activities for students at every learning level, creating their own word lists or using thousands on the site. The learning activities support educational standards, and are designed to supplement any curriculum. Family and school memberships are available in both free and premium versions. To learn more, visit or follow or


Brett Gillin, VocabularySpellingCity:
Roger Fiedler, McREL International: