At HMH, we often celebrate student learning moments—those moments where, through perseverance and a growth mindset, a student grasps a concept that was initially a challenge. With that, we're announcing the 16 student recipients of this year's 180 Awards, all of whom overcame obstacles and exhibited dramatic improvement in their reading and math skills through our blended learning intervention programs: READ 180, MATH 180, and System 44.
The student winners, who are in Grades 4 through 12 and were nominated by their teachers, have triumphed over personal and academic challenges to perform at or near their grade level. In the process, they have built self-confidence that will be integral as they pursue their goals in the future.
A committee of passionate HMH math and literacy experts evaluated the nominated students on factors including teacher recommendations, statements from the students themselves, and video submissions, along with data demonstrating strong reading or math growth according to the Lexile® or Quantile® framework. (The winners' scores increased by an average of 1,749%!) Each winner will receive a prize, and the student's school district will receive HMH educational materials!
We are pleased to announce this year's winners below.
READ 180 Stage A
Abubaker Faisal, Grade 5
Yuba City Unified School District, Yuba City, California
“I always saw his gifts and knew they would eventually surface, and I have watched this young man blossom into a role model and a leader in the classroom,” said Abubaker’s READ 180 teacher, Aimee Rivas. “Abubaker’s writing and grammar have become stronger, and he always volunteers to present his papers to the class.”
Ten-year-old Abubaker Faisal came to the United States from Kabul in June 2014, and his primary language was Farsi. As an ESL student, it was difficult for Abubaker to have conversations with his peers, friends, and teachers, and he struggled with the concept of “being a student.”
When Abubaker began the READ 180 program in fourth grade, he had an 86 Lexile score. Fast forward to fifth grade, and he has achieved a Lexile growth of 641 points. He’s already read 25 books independently this year!
“He has a true passion to learn now. He is confident, and his active participation skills are evident in every lesson,” Rivas said.
“I realize with hard work, I can read more challenging text, and now reading is easier for me,” Abubaker said. His teacher points out that his new confidence as a student has enabled him to better interact with his peers, even becoming a math tutor for his classmates.
Abubaker has big ambitions for his future, including graduating from college with a degree in engineering. “I either want to be a professional soccer player or an engineer,” he said. “I understand that both require me to read, write, and work hard. I would love to build houses and roads.”
Desiree Vega, Grade 4
Murrieta Valley Unified School District, Murrieta, California
When Desiree immigrated to the United States in October 2017, she couldn’t speak English, was very shy, and had a Lexile score of BR0, said her teacher, Barbara Rosales.
“She was in a new country, with students that she didn’t know, and unable to speak the language of her peers,” her teacher said.
With the support of READ 180, Desiree has made tremendous growth. In just a year and a half, she went from speaking no English at all to a Lexile score of 755 Proficient and consistently averages 81 percent or higher in all learning zones in the READ 180 software.
Barbara notes that Desiree is now “confident in her ability to work through tough situations,” and she “stands out as a dedicated young lady that has overcome obstacles to persistently work toward high achievement.” She’s even become a role model to fellow EL and non-EL students.
“READ 180 has helped me change my mindset toward reading,” Desiree said. “Thanks to READ 180, I can do more things than before, like understand English and speak and write in a better way. Now I can help others instead of them helping me.”
Desiree has expressed that she would like to work toward becoming a better reader so that she can attend college. “I want to get a scholarship and get into a good college that will help me succeed in the career that I want, earn a good salary, and have a great life,” she said.
Stevie Christofic, Grade 4
Yuba City Unified School District, Yuba City, California
Despite initially approaching reading with anxiety, Stevie has made tremendous strides in both her confidence and reading skills since using the READ 180 program. With a Lexile score of 391 (and growing), Stevie asks her teacher Sandra Ortega if she can take her independent reading book home every day and is “extremely motivated and proud of her own efforts,” her teacher said.
Before she became excited about reading, Stevie struggled with low self-esteem and anxiety toward reading and test-taking. At the beginning of fourth grade, Stevie was at a BR Lexile level, and she “would even hide her books that showed her reading level,” Sandra said.
“I felt like a failure,” Stevie said. “I felt embarrassed, and I didn’t want to be made fun of or be laughed at. Then I was placed into READ 180.”
Today, Stevie is a new student who is proud—not embarrassed—to show her friends her accomplishments. She utilizes every opportunity to come into class to read or discuss her future goals with her teachers, and she approaches tests with confidence, understanding that these assessments are positive tools to see where she needs to grow.
Stevie has improved her reading skills and is now at the beginning of third-grade level—and she’s not stopping there. After her last Lexile test, Stevie said, "I'm going to get a 500 Lexile, or maybe even 1,000 on the next test! I know I can do it!"
Stevie’s experience with reading and the READ 180 program have helped her shape her future goals. “I would like to become a third grade teacher so I can help kids with reading like I had been helped,” she said.