The Columbus City Schools (CCS) district is large and diverse, serving more than 50,000 students at 77 elementary schools, 27 middle and alternative schools, and 24 high schools. Just over 80% of students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and the district experiences a high mobility rate (54.6% of students have been in the district for less than three years).
For several years, struggling readers in kindergarten through fifth grade have received support from tutors and literacy specialists; however, no formal intervention was in place for those students once they arrived in middle school. To address this problem, CCS examined different intervention programs and selected READ 180 because of its strong match to their needs . In particular, CCS noted the critical importance of establishing background knowledge, a hallmark feature of READ 180.
In the fall of 2009, 1,158 sixth- and seventh-grade students in 24 middle schools were identified for placement into READ 180. Students were selected based on a combination of factors, including Ohio Achievement Assessment (OAA) score, Text Reading Comprehension (TRC) level, baseline Lexile® score, and input from teachers and principals.
Of the 1,158 READ 180 students with demographic data available, 48.6% were female and 51.4% were male, and the majority were in regular education (about 91.2%). This sample differs from the district as a whole in that there are a higher percentage of students with disabilities in the district than in this sample (about 17% compared to 6.2% in the READ 180 program).
This report summarizes OAA findings as reported by the office of School Improvement and Federal Programs, Columbus City Schools (Scholastic Research, 2010). Reading Inventory® findings were analyzed by Literacy Solutions, our professional services learning arm.
Spring 2009 and spring 2010 OAA and Reading Inventory data were gathered from 1,060 CCS READ 180 students. Data indicate that from spring 2009 to spring 2010, the percentage of students scoring in the Proficient, Accelerated, and Advanced Performance Levels on the OAA increased. As Table 1 shows, among READ 180 students who scored in the Basic Performance Level on the OAA pretest, 42% reached the Proficient, Accelerated, or Advanced Performance Level after participation in the program (39% Basic, plus 2% Accelerated, plus 1% Advanced). In addition, 62% of students who scored in the Limited category prior to READ 180 moved up at least one Performance Level: 45% scored in the Basic Performance Level and 17% reached the Proficient Performance Level. Graph 1 displays these results by student count, demonstrating more than a threefold increase in the number of students scoring Proficient, Accelerated, or Advanced on the OAA after participation in READ 180.
Consistent with these findings, the number of READ 180 students performing in the Proficient Performance Level on the Reading Inventory increased from 135 to 311, or from 12% to 27% (Graph 2). Further, 62% of students achieved a year or more of reading growth (100 Lexile (L) measures is approximately equal to a year’s growth at Grades 3–5, 75L at Grades 6–8, and 50L at Grades 9–12).
As a result of these successful findings, an additional READ 180 classroom was added in each middle school to serve eighth-grade students, and new part-time teachers were hired to meet the demand. The program was also expanded into three high schools within the district, funded by School Improvement Grants.
The READ 180 model dictates a 90-minute class, but the CCS district middle schools have 52-minute periods. To ensure that all program components are implemented, CCS splits the model over two days, including opening and closing whole-group instruction plus three rotations—small-group instruction, modeled and independent reading, and instructional software.