The Axis International School (Japan) supports students from grade 4 – 12, its low student-to-teacher ratio facilitates a personal interaction that fosters academic growth, critical thinking skills, and character development. They have been using myON and Star Reading to engage students, motivate reading practice and improve reading progress which has proved particularly helpful amongst its ELL (English Language Learning) students.

Recently, we spoke with their Headmaster Daniel Mahr to find out how Renaissance’s literacy solutions have supported the reading programme at their school and encouraged students to read for pleasure.

Overcoming reading and learning challenges amongst pupils

“myON is a great tool to help ELL (English Language learners) students if schools make reading books apart of their programme. Kids need to read. When we had a student that did not read, their score showed it.” 

For us, the biggest gains have been in the vocabulary, comprehension and reading scores. I must admit, I was not sure if myON could deliver the results that we wanted, but I am glad that Renaissance phoned me (after I initially turned your e-mail down). There are quite a few programmes out there that are supposed to help improve children’s reading results. I have teachers putting their heart into helping each of our students looking at various programs.

This year, many of our students doubled their vocabulary scores. Comprehension, as a result, is also much higher.

In our school, only three students are below average. One is coming out of an ESL programme and the other two simply did not participate in myON.

We can show parents the results so students can no longer say that they have done their 30 minutes of reading and then not do it. myON and Star Reading make it very easy to track progress and monitor the children to ensure that they have a solid reading programme. We highly recommend anyone considering using myOn to give it a go. Like us, they may also be amazed at the results.

The importance and impact of hybrid learning

Having online classes and regular classes is something that we are embracing very slowly. Online learning has it’s uses, but there are also some concerns.

Generally, students are happy that they do not need to carry heavy books, but parents are concerned with buying expensive books each year. One book can cost $50 for one year of online access. A printed book can be recycled for 5 years, so the cost is only $10 per year. Students sometimes do ruin books, but most don’t. 

Taking these drawbacks into consideration, digital platforms are useful in tracking progress and helping to enhance the study process – that is what we are looking at using them for.

Using Renaissance solutions to support student progression

Renaissance solutions have been particularly helpful in encouraging the children to read for pleasure, there has been a true sense of reading enjoyment amongst students. The selection of books available in myON cover a wide range of topics and themes that can appeal to all kinds of children whatever their interests.

With built-in features tailored to each individual student and adaptive practice functions, teachers are able to monitor student progress and ensure that they are on track to meeting their personalised target. This is beneficial when giving us great reports to show parents how they are progressing.


While 53% of our students tested above average, we also had 63% of our students do better than someone after high school taking their test – it’s a first that so many achieved this. Usually, these achievements came in the math scores, but this year we had a number of above average achievers in science with lots of facts to read, digest and memorise. For some reason, it seems Japanese, and I believe Asian students in general seem to have much higher math skills than children in western countries, so the science scores were unexpected.

Creating a reading culture

Another benefit, with all the choices offered, is that many of our students now genuinely love to read. This has been a problem since I was at school. Parents are reporting that some children actually prefer reading many of the different books to watching television. When they have some down time, and need to wait, they just pull out an iPad and enjoy a book. This is a great outcome, and we want to thank Renaissance for creating such an engaging, likable, fun and educational product!

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