Brockton Public Schools (BPS) is one of the largest districts in Massachusetts, with an ethnically diverse and predominantly low-income population. BPS used READ 180 with its after-school students who scored below the Proficient level on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) reading and language arts assessments from the 2005–2006 school year to the 2007–2008 school year. Three independent studies were conducted to evaluate the impact of READ 180 on these BPS students.
From 2005–2007, MPR Associates, Inc. conducted a two-year study involving three elementary schools in the first year (2005–2006) and four in the second year (2006–2007) (Hartry, Fitzgerald, & Porter, 2008). Funded by the William T. Grant Foundation, the goal of the study was to determine whether READ 180 could be used in an after-school setting with students in Grades 4–6. Results were originally published in the Harvard Educational Review.
Under the larger scope of the National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning, SEDL funded a Randomized Control Trial to evaluate the impact of three after-school interventions on student achievement. SEDL hired MPR to conduct the study at BPS, as an extension of MPR’s previous work. The SEDL-funded study spanned two school years, 2006–2007 and 2007–2008 (Vaden, Kiernan, Hughes, Jones, & Rudo, 2008).
As part of the larger Hartry et al. (2008) implementation study, an evaluation was also conducted to determine the program’s impact on several literacy outcomes. Results were published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis (Kim, Capotosto, Hartry, & Fitzgerald, 2011).
During the first study, MPR collected and analyzed after-school attendance and attrition data from all participating after-school students from 2005–2007. Findings revealed that READ 180 after-school attendance rates were significantly higher than students in the control after-school program (Table 1). Of the 95 students who withdrew from the after-school program but remained in the district, 36 were from the READ 180 program and 59 were from the control group, a statistically significant difference.
During the second study, SEDL MPR also collected pretest and posttest SAT-10™ data from READ 180 and control group participants. Findings indicated that READ 180 students scored 8.5 points higher on vocabulary, 9.5 points higher on reading comprehension, and 15 points higher on total reading than control group students (Graph 1). When the results were disaggregated, gains were especially notable for African American and low-income students on vocabulary, comprehension, spelling, and total reading. The significant results were not maintained in the second year of the SEDL-funded study, likely due to the change in schedule from four days to two days each week and to the overall higher baseline performance (fewer struggling readers) in the second year.
As Graph 2 displays, Kim et al. (2011) also found that READ 180 had a significant positive effect on vocabulary and comprehension beyond that of the district’s regular after-school program (effect sizes of .23 and .32, respectively). The majority of the students in the study (95%) scored below Proficient on a state assessment of English Language Arts.
Hartry, A., Fitzgerald, R. A., & Porter, K. (2008). Implementing a structured reading program in an afterschool setting: Problems and potential solutions. Harvard Educational Review, 78(1), 181–210.
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.
Vaden-Kiernan, M., Hughes Jones, D., & Rudo, Z. (2008). The National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning randomized controlled trial studies of promising afterschool programs: Summary of findings. Afterschool Research Brief, Issue No. 3. Austin, TX: SEDL. Retrieved on 11/8/2010 from http://www.sedl.org/afterschool/downloads/rb/rb-issue3.pdf
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