The study took place in a mid-sized urban school district in southeastern Massachusetts. Participating children attended four K-6 elementary schools in the district. Both intervention and comparison group students participated in after-school programming.
The sample included students in grades 4 to 6, 95 percent of whom scored below proficiency on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) in English language arts. At baseline, the sample was composed of 312 students, and of those, 54 percent were female and 46 percent male; 69 percent were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch; 54 percent were Black, 28 percent were White, 12 percent were Latinx, and 6 percent were classified as another race.
The study examined the effectiveness of a reading intervention for students struggling with reading. The study tested the READ 180® Enterprise intervention. Students in the intervention condition received the READ 180® structured reading program in an afterschool setting. Although the READ 180® program was implemented in an afterschool setting, the key program components were implemented, including the structuring of time to include whole-class instruction, as well as three rotations focused on (1) time using READ 180® software, (2) modeled and independent reading, and (3) small-group direct instruction. Because of the 60-minute session length (compared to the standard READ 180® 90-minute session length), the program developer devised a schedule in which, on any given day, students would rotate through two rather than three of the small-group centers. Student workbooks (“rBooks®”) were also provided in keeping with the program design, and the intended class size of 15 or fewer students was generally maintained. In year 1, READ 180® students received the program 4 days per week in 60-minute sessions for 23 weeks. In year 2, three of the four study schools changed the schedule so that the program was implemented for only 2 days per week in 90-minute sessions. The fourth school provided the program 4 days per week and in 90-minute sessions in year 2.
Students in the comparison condition attended Brockton Public Schools’ standard after-school program, which generally includes 40 minutes of homework, 1 hour of another structured learning activity such as math or reading, and the remainder of the time in physical exercise or recreation. Instructors could choose from 16 structured learning activities, including math games, reading, art projects, or science activities, or they could develop their own activities. In year 1, comparison group students attended the regular afterschool program for 4 days each week. In year 2, three of the four schools switched to a 2-day-per-week schedule for the regular afterschool program, while the fourth school retained the 4-day-per-week schedule.
Support for implementation
Scholastic, Inc., the publisher of READ 180®, provided professional development services to participating teachers. These services consisted of a full day of training prior to the launch of the READ 180® intervention, as well as a half-day of training after approximately 6 weeks of implementation. During the implementation period, a Scholastic trainer periodically met with all of the teachers implementing READ 180® to discuss challenges and identify solutions. All teachers also had access to an online professional development program, called RED, provided by Scholastic.