Cascade Reading, Comprehend more logo.

Research Results 

A study at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign with English readers of various linguistic backgrounds: first language English, Mandarin, Korean, and Spanish speakers. During this study, participants read passages displayed either in Cascade or traditional format. Results show benefits for both first language English and first language Mandarin speakers when reading in Cascade. The pattern of results looks similarly promising in the other language groups, although data collection is ongoing. 

ReadWorks Research Results - English, non-native Korean and Chinese showing significant comprehension improvement when reading in Cascade Format

Student Research

We actively collaborate with public school districts, private schools, universities, and non-profit organizations to test various elements of our Cascade approach.

An Elementary School study with 109 4th and 5th grade students in the greater Milwaukee area throughout the Fall semester of 2021. During this study, students read texts that were either in Cascade Format or in traditional format. We not only found that students reading in Cascade performed better on comprehension assessments following each text, but they also indicated an increased ability to generate or imagine how the text would sound as they read. This is an important factor in reading ability, since fluent reading includes the ability to produce appropriate intonation, phrasing, stress, and rhythm. We also found that students with the lowest reading scores reported feeling more confident when reading Cascaded Text versus traditionally formatted texts. Results from this study are currently submitted for peer review.

A handwritten sign reading "Cascade Junior Research Scientists At Work" taped to the outside of the classroom door where students participate in research for Cascade Reading.
Several students, sitting at their tables in a classroom, participate in research for Cascade Reading.


In the 13 week research study in a public school, students reading in Cascade Format demonstrated improved comprehension when compared to students reading the same material in traditional block text.

Overall reactions to this new format were positive.  

  • 59% reported that Cascade Format teaches them to read more carefully
  • 41% said it taught them to focus attention on pieces of a sentence. 

The Future

These results suggest that Cascade Reading could be a powerful tool for helping all readers better comprehend texts, regardless of language background. These data will be submitted for peer review when all analyses are complete.

General Statement of Research Ethics:

All of our research is approved by institutional review boards to ensure the protection of participant and student rights to privacy and autonomy. We aim to produce results that will be relevant to the broadest segments of the population. As such, we aim for representative and inclusive samples across the spectrum of ethnic, linguistic, economic, and social diversity. All results will be submitted to the highest level of scientific scrutiny via the expert peer review process and will be published in leading scientific journals. Facilitating open access to our scientific findings is a high priority.

Ongoing Research:

Research studies in several public school districts throughout the country have been initiated to further generalize our findings across diverse populations of students. We will also collect data in a private school that serves individuals with language-based disabilities in order to specifically evaluate Cascade as a tool to support challenged readers. Additional lab-based experiments are under way at top research universities to pinpoint the effective linguistic and cognitive mechanisms through which experience with the Cascade Format improves comprehension. Other research questions will investigate the growth rate in comprehension outcomes in relation to reading in Cascade, as well as how much experience is necessary for a maximum effect and how that varies in relation to language group or ability level.

Commitment to Science

Cascade Reading is committed to developing evidence-based tools to support the teaching and learning of reading comprehension skills.  Chief Scientist, Dr. Julie Van Dyke uses her 30+ years of experience in the domains of reading and language science to guide development of Cascade Reader, a comprehension enhancement tool that directly connects to the brain systems that process language and create meaning. 

Syntactic processing is so fundamental to comprehension that even when the individual words of a sentence are meaningless. As demonstrated with Lewis Carroll’s famous poem below– our brains can still create meaning when reading Cascaded Text.  

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves 

      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: 

All mimsy were the borogoves, 

      And the mome raths outgrabe. 

                      -Jabberwocky, Lewis Carroll (1871)

Syntactic Awareness and Cascade Reading

Syntactic awareness enables the interpretation of “who did what to whom” in a sentence and is significantly related to both reading comprehension and reading fluency (see relevant research here). Through making the syntactic structure of a sentence visible, Cascade seeks to increase syntactic awareness, improve readers’ ability to produce appropriate prosody (e.g., intonation, stress, phrasing, pauses, and rhythm) while reading, and improve overall comprehension scores. We believe that these goals are relevant for all readers, including elementary-aged developing readers and individuals with learning challenges of all types, including those with developmental disabilities, attentional limitations, foreign language learners, acquired communication disorders, or age-related comprehension decline.

Together with Dr. Jack Dempsey, Director of Research, our scientific team tests the effectiveness of the Cascade Format in highly controlled studies to evaluate whether these goals are being met. Our research is further informed through consultation with our Scientific Advisory board, which is composed of a diverse group of leaders and influencers in language science, science of reading, and educational practice. Research has been, and always will be, at the forefront of our work.

Get Involved!
Are you an educator or reading researcher interested in learning more about Cascade Reading and how it can help your students? Please reach out to us at! We would love to talk with you about getting involved and sharing this powerful new tool with your readers!
Cascade Reading

How was your experience?