I’m the only person at the HMH office who has been engaged with our READ 180 intervention program from day one—before it was even named READ 180. Dr. Ted Hasselbring brought a prototype that had been tested with 10,000 students who faced reading challenges. Ted had responded to the call to help a district with a “discipline problem” and came to the conclusion it was a reading problem. He was inspired by a Super Bowl ad to harness the promise of technology to solve the social problem of inadequate reading performance. And, we are well aware of the negative academic, emotional, economic, and even physical consequences of unskilled reading.
My journey as an educator started as a first-grade teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. I had an amazing principal who made it very clear that children who didn’t learn to read in that grade were highly unlikely to learn later and to succeed in school. I was provided with consultant and coaching support, and my students were doing so well that I was not only tasked with teaching six-year-olds but also tutoring sixth-graders who were struggling with literacy skills and soon to be off to middle school. I studied and strived to do all that I could, and my biggest challenge was individualizing and motivating.
Then, in 1999, the READ 180 era started. Since then, READ 180 has demonstrated positive student outcomes with:
- English learners (ELs)
- Students with disabilities
- Economically disadvantaged students
- Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Incarcerated students
Let’s take a look at some specific strategies that can be used to help struggling readers within the first two populations listed above. We kept these strategies in mind when creating READ 180.
Nazir had been a top high school student in his school in Afghanistan. But upon arriving at his new school in the U.S., he couldn’t read or write English and found that he was falling behind the other students, worrying him about his prospects of attending college and eventually landing his dream job as a dentist.