Skip Navigation
archived information
Skip Navigation

Back to Ask A REL Archived Responses

REL Midwest Ask A REL Response


September 2018


What does the research say about the effectiveness of the Language! (Voyager) Comprehensive Literacy Curriculum or READ180 program on literacy outcomes for students in grades 7–12?


Following an established Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest protocol, we conducted a search for research reports and descriptive studies on the effectiveness of the Language! (Voyager) Comprehensive Literacy Curriculum or READ180 program on literacy outcomes for students in grades 7–12. For details on the databases and sources, keywords, and selection criteria used to create this response, please see the Methods section at the end of this memo.

Organizations to Consult

What Works Clearinghouse –

From the website: “For more than a decade, the WWC has been a central and trusted source of scientific evidence on education programs, products, practices, and policies. We review the research, determine which studies meet rigorous standards, and summarize the findings. We focus on high-quality research to answer the question ‘what works in education?’ Why Does Quality Matter in Education Research? Not all education research is equal. Identifying well-designed studies, trustworthy research, and meaningful findings to inform decisions and improve student outcomes can be tricky. That’s where the WWC comes in.

The What Works Clearinghouse searches for all research studies on an intervention, reviews each against evidence standards, and summarizes the findings of those that meet standards.”

Summary of Evidence for READ 180®

Evidence Snapshot of LANGUAGE!®

Research References

Below, we share a sampling of the publicly accessible resources on this topic. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. The search conducted is not comprehensive; other relevant references and resources may exist. For each reference, we provide an abstract, excerpt, or summary written by the study’s author or publisher. We have not evaluated the quality of these references, but provide them for your information only.

Baye, A., Lake, C., Inns, A., & Slavin, R. E. (2018). A synthesis of quantitative research on reading programs for secondary students. Baltimore, MD: Best Evidence Encyclopedia, Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education, Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved from

From the abstract: “Recent initiatives in the U.S. and U.K. have added greatly to the amount and quality of research on the effectiveness of secondary reading programs, especially programs for struggling readers. This review of the experimental research on secondary reading programs focuses on 69 studies that used random assignment (n=62) or high-quality quasi-experiments (n=7) to evaluate outcomes of 51programs on widely accepted measures of reading. Categories of programs using one-to-one and small-group tutoring, cooperative learning, whole-school approaches including organizational reforms such as teacher teams, and writing-focused approaches showed positive outcomes. Individual approaches in a few other categories also showed positive impacts. These include programs emphasizing social studies/science, structured strategies, and personalized and group/personalization rotation approaches for struggling readers. Programs that provide a daily extra period of reading and those utilizing technology were no more effective, on average, than programs that did not provide these resources. The findings suggest that secondary readers benefit more from socially and cognitively engaging instruction than from additional reading periods or technology.”

Boulay, B., Goodson, B., Frye, M., Blocklin, M., & Price, C. (2015). Summary of research generated by Striving Readers on the effectiveness of interventions for struggling adolescent readers (NCEE 2016-4001). Jessup, MD: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “The Striving Readers program aimed to raise the literacy levels of middle and high school students reading below grade level and to build a strong research base on effective adolescent literacy interventions. This report summarizes the results of a systematic review of evaluations of the ten different interventions funded by the Striving Readers grant program in 2006 and 2009. Twelve of the 17 evaluations met What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards without reservations, three evaluations met WWC evidence standards with reservations, and two evaluations did not meet WWC evidence standards. Based on findings from the evaluations found to meet WWC evidence standards with or without reservations, four of the ten interventions funded by Striving Readers had positive, potentially positive, or mixed effects on reading achievement. Three of these four interventions had not previously been reviewed by the WWC.”

Kim, J. S., Capotosto, L., Hartry, A., & Fitzgerald, R. (2011). Can a mixed-method literacy intervention improve the reading achievement of low-performing elementary school students in an after-school program? Results from a randomized controlled trial of READ 180 Enterprise. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 33(2), 183–201. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “The authors describe an independent evaluation of the READ 180 Enterprise intervention designed by Scholastic, Inc. Despite widespread use of the program with upper elementary through high school students, there is limited empirical evidence to support its effectiveness. In this randomized controlled trial involving 312 students enrolled in an after-school program, the authors generated intention-to-treat and treatment-on-the-treated estimates of the program’s impact on several literacy outcomes of fourth, fifth, and sixth graders reading below proficiency on a state assessment at baseline. READ 180 Enterprise students outperformed control group students on vocabulary (d = 0.23) and reading comprehension (d = 0.32) but not on spelling and oral reading fluency. The authors interpret the findings in light of the theory of instruction underpinning the READ 180 Enterprise intervention.”

Lombardi, D., & Behrman, E. H. (2016). Balanced literacy and the underperforming English learner in high school. Reading Improvement, 53(4), 165–174. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “Balanced literacy has been proposed as a compromise or middle ground between philosophical approaches to reading instruction that stress teaching of word recognition and those that stress construction of meaning. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the READ 180 balanced literacy supplementary instruction program on improving reading performance of underachieving students in a predominantly Hispanic urban high school. Students predicting failure on the high school graduation test were assigned to the READ 180 program during the first semester of Grade 10. Comparison of language arts scores on the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge in Grade 8 with language arts scores on the High School Proficiency Assessment in Grade 11 showed that both English learners (EL) and English proficient (EP) students in the balanced literacy supplementary program improved from predicting below the cutoff for high school graduation to scoring above the cutoff. However, whereas EP’s in the balanced literacy intervention still scored below their EP peers not in the supplementary program, EL’s in the balanced literacy program scored above their EL peers not in the program. Results suggest the benefit of a balanced literacy supplementary instruction program for underperforming English learners at the high school level.”

Salinger, T., Moorthy, S., Toplitz, M., Jones, W., & Rosenthal, E. (2010). Implementation matters: Systems for success. A descriptive study of READ 180 in urban middle schools. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from

From the executive summary: “Researchers have studied some—but not all—of the programs available for struggling adolescent readers, seeking to measure their impact on students’ achievement. Less research has been done to answer two critical questions about the process of implementing an intervention for struggling readers:”

What factors at the district or school level contribute to or hinder on-model implementation?

What conditions need to be in place to sustain support and buy-in for the program and thereby contribute to ongoing successful implementation?

In 2007, Scholastic, Inc., and the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) partnered to seek answers to these questions, hoping that valuable lessons could be learned by studying the implementation of one widely used intervention for struggling readers—READ 180—in middle schools in five districts. They asked the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and Berkeley Policy Associates (BPA) to conduct this descriptive study. The districts selected for participation are urban, are members of the CGCS, and use the most recent version of Scholastic’s READ 180, Enterprise Edition, in at least four middle schools.”

What Works Clearinghouse. (2013). Language! What Works Clearinghouse intervention report. Princeton, NJ: What Works Clearinghouse. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “‘LANGUAGE!’ is a language arts intervention designed for struggling learners in grades 3-12 who score below the 40th percentile on standardized literacy tests. The curriculum integrates English literacy acquisition skills into a six-step lesson format. During a daily lesson, students work on six key literacy strands (which the developer calls ‘six steps from sound to text’): phonemic awareness and phonics (word decoding), word recognition and spelling (word encoding), vocabulary and morphology (word meaning), grammar and usage (understanding the form and function of words in context), listening and reading comprehension, and speaking and writing. The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) identified one study of ‘LANGUAGE!’ that both falls within the scope of the Adolescent Literacy topic area and meets WWC evidence standards. The one study meets standards with reservations and includes 1,272 students in grades 9 and 10 in one school district in Florida. The WWC considers the extent of evidence for ‘LANGUAGE!’ on the literacy skills of adolescent readers to be small for two domains: reading fluency and comprehension. Two other domains are not reported in this intervention report. Appended are: (1) Research details for Zmach et al., 2009; (2) Outcome measures for each domain; (3) Findings included in the rating for the reading fluency domain; and (4) Findings included in the rating for the comprehension domain.”

What Works Clearinghouse. (2016). Read 180. What Works Clearinghouse intervention report. Princeton, NJ: What Works Clearinghouse. Retrieved from

From the ERIC abstract: “‘READ 180®’ is a reading program designed for struggling readers who are reading 2 or more years below grade level. It combines online and direct instruction, student assessment, and teacher professional development. ‘READ 180®’ is delivered in 90-minute sessions that include whole-group instruction, three small-group rotations, and whole-class wrap-up. Small-group rotations include individualized instruction using an adaptive computer application, small-group instruction, and independent reading. ‘READ 180®’ is designed for students in elementary through high school. ‘READ 180®’ was found to have positive effects on comprehension and general literacy achievement, potentially positive effects on reading fluency, and no discernible effects on alphabetics for adolescent readers. The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) identified nine studies of ‘READ 180®’ that both fall within the scope of the Adolescent Literacy topic area and meet WWC group design standards. Three studies meet WWC group design standards without reservations, and six studies meet WWC group design standards with reservations. Together, these studies included 8,755 adolescent readers in more than 66 schools in 15 school districts and 10 states. The WWC considers the extent of evidence for ‘READ 180®’ on the reading achievement of adolescent readers to be medium to large for four outcomes—comprehension, general literacy achievement, reading fluency, and alphabetics.”


Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • “language!” descriptor: “instructional effectiveness”

  • “LANGUAGE!® Fourth Edition”

  • “LANGUAGE! Research Summary”

  • language sopris

  • LANGUAGE! the comprehensive literacy curriculum

  • READ 180

  • “striving readers study”

Databases and Search Engines

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched IES and Google Scholar.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published over the last 15 years, from 2002 to present, were included in the search and review.

  • Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations.

  • Methodology: We used the following methodological priorities/considerations in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types—randomized control trials, quasi-experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, and so forth, generally in this order, (b) target population, samples (e.g., representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected), study duration, and so forth, and (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, and so forth.
This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Midwest Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL Midwest) at American Institutes for Research. This memorandum was prepared by REL Midwest under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007, administered by American Institutes for Research. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.