The study was conducted in two school districts, Chicopee and Springfield, in western Massachusetts.
In each of the 5 study years, students in five study schools were screened prior to random assignment. Students at least two—but less than four—grade levels behind in reading performance were selected to participate. Students were excluded from the sample if (a) they had an IEP that specified reading supports not compatible with READ 180®, (b) they lacked sufficient English language proficiency, (c) their parents opted out of the study, (d) they were enrolled in an off-campus evening school, (e) they were deemed not to be a “struggling reader” based on grade history and MCAS scores, or (f) they could not be located in school enrollment records. Over the five annual cohorts, a total of 548 ninth-grade students with five teachers per year (one in each of five schools) were randomly assigned to the READ 180® group. The READ 180® analysis sample included 231 students taught by five teachers in five schools. This analysis sample was comprised of 74% racial and/or ethnic minorities, 61% female students, 18% special education students, and 3% English learners. A majority of students (69%) were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. A total of 566 students with five teachers per year (one in each of five schools) were randomly assigned to the comparison group. The analysis sample for the comparison group includes 225 students taught by five teachers in five schools. This analysis sample was comprised of 71% racial and/or ethnic minorities, 53% female students, 19% special education students, and 4% English learners. A majority of students (74%) were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Results for additional samples were reported in Year 2, Year 3, and Year 4 reports. In the Year 2 report, which includes impact estimates for a sample combining Cohorts 1–2, there were 128 students in the intervention group and 113 students in the comparison group. The Year
3 report presents findings for Cohorts 1–3, which included 175 students in the intervention group and 159 in the comparison. The Year 4 report presents findings on Cohorts 1–4, which included 186 students in the intervention group and 178 in the comparison. These supplemental findings do not factor into the intervention’s rating of effectiveness.
The READ 180® intervention was delivered as a 90-minute daily supplement to the standard ninth-grade ELA course. A typical daily session included 20 minutes of whole-class instruction, 60 minutes of small-group breakouts involving direct instruction, independent work using program software, and modeled or independent reading. In addition, the intervention included recommended instructional strategies and instructional materials, including videos and interactive work texts. The READ 180® curriculum was paced to be completed over 125–145 school days; the average number of sessions attended by each student was not reported.
Students in the comparison condition received the standard ELA course (as did students in the intervention condition), as well as supplemental services ordinarily available to all students. In practice, comparison group students had minimal access to supplemental services. None of the comparison group teachers reported having any past experience with the READ 180® program, and they did not receive formal professional development in literacy instruction beyond what was customarily provided to all teachers. Use of multimedia appears to have been much more limited in the comparison group than in the intervention group.
Support for implementation
Teachers implementing the intervention were required to participate in professional development activities. Those implementing READ 180® for the first time were required to complete 52 hours of professional development over the course of the year in online training (seven sessions), group seminars (up to 30 hours), and individual face-to-face sessions (up to 16 hours). Less professional development was required of more experienced users: teachers with 3 years of prior READ 180® experience had to complete only 8 hours, and those implementing their fifth year had no such requirement.