Desert Sands Unified School District (DSUSD), located on the outskirts of Palm Springs, enrolls nearly 29,000 students in Grades K–12. The district’s ethnic population was 64% Hispanic, 27% White, 2% African American, 1% Asian, and 6% unclassified.
During the 2006–2007 school year, DSUSD implemented READ 180 to increase the reading achievement of sixth-, seventh-, and ninth-grade students performing at the Below Basic or Basic Performance Level on the California Standards Test of English Language Arts (CST ELA). More than half of the students were classified as English learners (58.2%).
This study assessed the impact of READ 180 on student reading achievement. The spring 2006 and spring 2007 CST ELA scores from 285 READ 180 students and from a comparison group of 285 DSUSD students who were matched on spring 2006 CST ELA scores and language proficiency status were analyzed.
As Graph 1 shows, findings revealed that READ 180 students achieved, on average, a pretest CST ELA scale score of 279 and a posttest score of 294, resulting in a statistically significant gain of 14.6 scale score points on the CST ELA. However, the comparison group achieved an average pretest score of 277 and a posttest score of 280 for a nonsignificant gain of 3 scale score points. An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) revealed that the READ 180 student gains were significantly higher than matched peers, even after controlling for differences in their pretest CST ELA scores.
The CST ELA scores from 166 READ 180 English learners and a separate comparison group of 166 nonparticipants were analyzed separately. An ANCOVA confirmed that READ 180 English learners had significantly higher 2007 CST ELA scores than did their matched nonparticipating peers, controlling for differences in their 2006 CST ELA scores. As Graph 2 shows, READ 180 English learners gained an average of 13 scale score points, while the comparison group gained, on average, 5 scale score points. Although both groups’ gains were statistically significant, the READ 180 students’ gain was approximately 2.5 times larger.