Montgomery County After-School Program Finds 31% Gains in Reading Vocabulary with Speak Agent


April 23, 2019 | Ben Grimley |


Excel Beyond the Bell Elementary (EBBE), an after-school program in Montgomery County, Maryland, released its report “Leveraging the Power of Play” earlier this month. EBBE saw some exciting results with Speak Agent in reading! Their testing found 31.2% growth in knowledge of key reading vocabulary and concepts over a 12-week period. (This finding is noted in the EBBE report on the bottom of page 4.)

Second-grade EBBE students (majority ELLs and FARMs) took the pre- and post-tests at four elementary schools: Burnt Mills, Harmony Hills, JoAnn Leleck, and South Lake. Each student used Speak Agent for an average of 6 hours over the 12 weeks between the pre- and post-tests. Reading lessons were aligned to MCPS Curriculum 2.0 materials.

The tests had 17 questions and took an average of about 30 minutes for students to complete. (Up to 45 minutes were allowed.) EBBE staff read each question and answer choice in English to students aloud and repeated as many times as needed. (Staff were not, however, permitted to help students answer the questions, translate, or explain word meanings.)

The growth rate in reading at EBBE is double the gains that Rockman et al found in science at Manor ISD in an earlier NSF-sponsored study.

Ben Grimley

Written by Ben Grimley

Ben is CEO and Co-Founder of Speak Agent, Inc. An ESL teacher who became a leading educational app creator, Ben led the launch of PBS KIDS Mobile, where his apps resulted in significant gains in language acquisition for millions of young learners. He co-created Speak Agent to address the achievement gap for marginalized learners, pioneering a unique Content+Language integration approach based on current Learning Sciences research. Ben has served as Principal Investigator for impact studies sponsored by IES, NSF, and NIH.