WWC review of this study

Striving Readers: Impact study and project evaluation report: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (with Milwaukee Public Schools).

Swanlund, A., Dahlke, K., Tucker, N., Kleidon, B., Kregor, J., Davidson-Gibbs, D., & Hallberg, K. (2012). Naperville, IL: American Institutes for Research.

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grades
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: November 2016

Literacy achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP): Reading

READ 180® vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Intent-to-treat sample;
619 students




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Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP): Reading

READ 180® vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Treatment-on-the- treated (TOT) sample;
617 students





Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 8% English language learners

  • 88% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 39%
    Male: 61%
  • Race

  • Urban
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The intervention was implemented in five schools in the Milwaukee Public Schools district.

Study sample

READ 180® was implemented in fall 2010 through spring 2011. Students were eligible for the study if they met the guidelines established by Milwaukee Public Schools for entrance into the READ 180® program. More specifically, students were eligible if they scored at the Minimal or Basic level on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) in the fall of 2009. If WKCE scores were not available, students could still be eligible for the study if they scored at Minimal or Basic on the Discovery Education Assessment Predictive Benchmark Assessment or if teacher assessments indicated that students were performing at least two grade levels below expectations. Students with disabilities were eligible for the study if they completed a 1-year remedial language course, and English learners (ELs) were eligible for the study if they had a Language Acquisition Unit level of 3.0 or higher. Eligible students in grades 6–10 were randomly assigned to the intervention or comparison group in two stages. The first stage was completed in July 2010, and randomization was conducted within each school-by-grade block, controlling for special education status. This randomization process resulted in 434 students assigned to the READ 180® group and 375 students assigned to the comparison group. Following the receipt of an updated school enrollment file at the end of July, a second randomization was conducted in August 2010. This second randomization process, which was designed the fill the remaining READ 180® slots in each school, involved assigning each eligible student a random number, sorting those numbers by school and grade, and then selecting the appropriate number of students based on their assigned number. The second randomization resulted in 158 students assigned to the READ 180® group and 159 students assigned to the comparison group. Including both randomizations, a total of 592 students were assigned to the intervention group and 534 to the comparison group. The analysis was conducted on 335 intervention group students and 284 comparison group students. Among the students for whom data were available, the majority of students in both the READ 180® and comparison groups was eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (88%) and was African American (70%). About 36% were special education students, and 8% were English learners. Less than half of the students (39%) were female.

Intervention Group

Students were given READ 180® instruction for 90 minutes each day for the 2010–11 school year. Classes began with 20 minutes of whole-group instruction. Next, students broke out into three groups that provided 20 minutes each of small-group instruction, instructional software, and modeled and independent reading. The class concluded with a 10-minute whole-group wrap-up. Students were to remain in the READ 180® intervention between 1 and 2 years. If students reached district-approved proficiency levels, they could exit the program early. Eight reading intervention teachers were hired to teach the supplemental READ 180® classes, with 15–21 students assigned to each teacher.

Comparison Group

The planned comparison condition called for students to attend their regular ELA class, plus an elective (non-reading related) class or study hall. However, multiple students in the comparison condition enrolled in reading or ELA-related electives, and two comparison students enrolled in the READ 180® course.

Support for implementation

Teachers received 3 days of READ 180® training and ongoing training throughout the year. Teachers were also required to participate in monthly roundtable discussions. Building administrators for each school also attended a half-day orientation to the program.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Scholastic, Inc. (2013). Urban students in Milwaukee public schools demonstrate improved reading achievement after READ 180® instruction. New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc.

Meets WWC standards without reservations

Reviewed: March 2016

Study sample characteristics were not reported.

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