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GREENVILLE, Wis.  (Feb. 10, 2016) – According to the 2015 National Assessment of Education Progress – the Nation’s Report Card – only about 35 percent of U.S. fourth and eighth graders perform at the “proficient” level in reading. To help schools close the achievement gap with students performing significantly below grade level, EPS Literacy and Intervention, a division of School Specialty (OTCQB: SCOO), today announced the debut of iSPIRE™. This interactive reading intervention program incorporates phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling, vocabulary, comprehension and fluency to accelerate literacy skill development for the lowest performing students in grades PreK-8. iSPIRE is powered by Exploros, a streamlined online teaching platform designed to connect teachers to students in a digitally transformed classroom with the teacher at the center of mastery based instruction.

“Closing the literacy gap for U.S. students continues to be a challenge for schools across the country. In order to conquer this challenge, it is critical that teachers have access to effective and engaging learning resources that will help students’ build the reading skills requisite for success in school, college and careers,” said Bodie Marx, Senior Vice President, School Specialty Curriculum. “We developed iSPIRE based on the proven S.P.I.R.E.® 10-Step Lesson and multisensory approach to reading instruction, and designed it to work on technology that is increasingly prevalent in classrooms to provide a powerful platform for engaging struggling readers and put them on the path to mastery. Schools now have a choice between an online approach and a print-based approach, with the teacher always at the center of the instruction.”

The dynamic structure of iSPIRE’s 10-Step Lesson Plan allows for digital, teacher-led instruction that lets districts increase traditional reading intervention group sizes of two to four students to five to eight, resulting in a cost-effective solution for districts and making it more efficient for educators when working with struggling learners.Through the use of a variety of digital manipulatives and drawing tools, iSPIRE builds engaging classroom experiences that promote phonological awareness and phonics-based skills. Students also participate in daily fiction and nonfiction reading activities, which help them master comprehension skills. Other interactive student activities reinforce vocabulary, comprehension and fluency and the embedded formative assessments ensure that students master key concepts to promote acceleration through the six levels of iSPIRE.

Teachers and administrators who use iSPIRE will find meaningful student progress reports that deliver assessment data in real-time, allowing teachers to either immediately accelerate students who have mastered key reading concepts or pinpoint areas for remediation. Clear and explicit lessons help teachers provide targeted instruction, while on-demand professional development ensures that teachers receive continuous support. For more information about iSPIRE, visit www.epsbooks.com/iSPIRE

About EPS Literacy and Intervention
EPS Literacy and Intervention provides K–12 blended-media solutions that build core skills and close the achievement gap in reading and math. With powerful instructional tools and high-quality materials, the company’s reading and math intervention solutions are proven to help struggling students EPS offers an integrated approach to effective teaching and learning.
For more information on EPS and its proven programs Wordly Wise 3000®, S.P.I.R.E.®, Academy of READING®, Academy of MATH®, MCI, Explode The Code® and EPS Custom Learning, visit www.epsbooks.com

About School Specialty, Inc.®
School Specialty is a leading distributor of innovative and proprietary products, programs and services to the education marketplace. The Company designs, develops, and provides educators with the latest and very best school supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources. Working in collaboration with educators, School Specialty reaches beyond the scope of textbooks to help teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators ensure that every student reaches his or her full potential. For more information about School Specialty, visit www.schoolspecialty.com 

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