All children reading at grade level through singing

A 501(c)3 nonprofit organization

The Rock 'n' Read Project

The Rock ‘n’ Read Project

State Pilot 2016-2017

Interim Report

Legislative Charge

Chapter 189—HF No. 2749, Sec. 62 Appropriations (495.1-495.9)

Subd. 13

Singing-based pilot program to improve student reading.

For a grant to pilot a research-supported, computer-based educational program that uses singing to improve the reading ability of students in grades 3 through 5: $100,000;
The commissioner of education shall award a grant to the Rock ‘n’ Read Project to implement in at least three Minnesota school districts, charter schools, or school sites, a research-supported, computer-based educational program that uses singing to improve the reading ability of students in grade 3 through 5. The grantee shall be responsible for selecting participating school sites; providing any required hardware and software, including software licenses, for the duration of the grant period; providing technical support, training, and staff to install required project hardware and software, providing on-site professional development and instructional monitoring and support for the school staff and students; administering pre- and post-intervention reading assessments; evaluating the impact of the intervention; and other project management services as required. To the extent practicable, the grantee must select participating schools in urban, suburban, and greater Minnesota, and give priority to schools in which a high proportion of students do not read proficiently at grade level and are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
By February 15, 2017, the grantee must submit a report detailing expenditures and outcomes of the grant to the commissioner of education and the chairs and ranking minority members of the legislative committees with primary jurisdiction over kindergarten through grade 12 education policy and finance.
This is a onetime appropriation.


Founded in 2014, The Rock ‘n’ Read Project is a Minnesota 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to “helping children read at grade level through singing.” The organization has partnered with schools and the YMCA to implement a software program that uses singing to boost reading achievement. Students using TUNEin to READING (TiR) are rewarded for improving their singing accuracy, thereby motivating them to sing/read the same song repeatedly. Most children enjoy using the program. Research studies conducted at the University of South Florida found that struggling readers using TiR for thirty minutes three times per week for nine weeks (13.5 hours) gained an average of one year in reading achievement. TiR users substantially out-performed non-TiR users on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests in year-over-year gains for five consecutive years.

The Rock ‘n’ Read Project bases its programs on neuroscience research studies that have found that 1) making music enhances auditory processing and this is correlated with higher reading achievement, 2) the ability to keep a steady beat is correlated with higher reading achievement;, and 3) dyslexia is a rhythmic entrainment problem in the brain that can be remediated with steady beat activities.

State Pilot Project

In May 2016, the Minnesota Legislature allocated a $100,000 grant to The Rock ‘n’ Read Project to implement a state pilot in 2016-’17 using TiR software. The Rock ‘n’ Read Project completed a grant application with the Minnesota Department of Education. Four schools were chosen:

  • Bancroft Elementary, Minneapolis Public Schools
  • College Prep Elementary, a public charter school in St. Paul
  • Jefferson Community School, Minneapolis Public Schools
  • Tesfa International School, a public charter school in St. Paul

The project began in September 2016. This interim report details the outcomes, expenditures, conclusions, and recommendations to date. A final report will be submitted in summer 2017.


May-August 2016

  • Using the MN Department of Education MN Report Card, The Rock ‘n’ Read Project identified schools around the state that had a majority of students not reading at grade level and a high percentage receiving free/reduced-price lunch.
  • Principals were contacted, and seven schools expressed interest.

September-October 2016

  • The Rock ‘n’ Read Project selected four schools that would implement the program during the school day.
  • All 3rd-5th grade students (and 2nd graders at Jefferson) took the online FastBridge aReading assessment. Each school chose which students would participate and created a schedule to ensure that students a minimum of 90 minutes per week of TiR usage/student.
  • The Rock ‘n’ Read Project purchased software licenses from the company, set up computer labs or downloaded the software into existing computer labs, provided staff development for the teachers, launched the program with the students, provided one week of lab help, and monitored progress during the fall.
  • Schools began students on the program 1-2 months after school started.

December-early January 2017

  • 3rd-5th grade students (and 2nd at Jefferson) took the FastBridge assessment again.


278 Rock ‘n’ Read students were compared with 387 non-Rock ‘n’ Read students for reading gains from fall to early winter on the FASTBridge aReading assessment. This is not a research study, but merely compares data from every single student who had a pre- and post- score. The results and demographics from each school are exhibited below. [Graphs available upon request--see bottom of page.]
(Note: Because schools did not begin the program until one to two months into the school year, not all students have yet reached the research-suggested “minimum dose” of 13.5 hours. Thus, students who got 7.5 or more hours were included.)


Bancroft: Rock ‘n’ Read students made substantially more gain than non-Rock ‘n’ Read students who were also reading below grade level in September.

College Prep: Rock ‘n’ Read students made double the gain of non-Rock ‘n’ Read students.

Jefferson: Rock ‘n’ Read 2nd graders made double the gain of non-Rock ‘n’ Read students. (Because no 3rd-5th graders had yet achieved the recommended “dose” of 13.5 hours, they are not included in this analysis).

Tesfa: Rock ‘n’ Read students (all students except a few new to country) made more than one-half year gain.


The data overall indicate that:

  • Rock ‘n’ Read students made nearly double the gain of non-users who were reading below grade level.
  • Rock ‘n’ Read students made almost one-half year gain in 7.5-24 hours of usage.
  • More time using TiR yields more gain (see Tesfa students).
  • Rock ‘n’ Read students are on track to make more than one year of reading gain during this school year.
  • EL students (English is their second language) benefit from using TiR.

Graphs of each individual school are available upon request: