The Rochester City School District enrolls approximately 26,000 pre-K–12 students in 31 elementary and 15 secondary schools. A majority of students are African American (53.1%), 32.7% are Hispanic, 9.6% are white, 2.0% are Asian, and 1.7% identify with other racial/ethnic groups. Approximately 86% of students are eligible for free/reduced-price lunch, and 14% have limited English proficiency. This report describes student academic outcomes associated with the implementation of Read 180 Universal at East High School in the Rochester District, which was designated as a “persistently failing school” by the State and placed in receivership in 2015.
Read 180 Universal is a literacy intervention targeted at students who are performing two grade levels or more below their assigned grade. Its blended-learning approach uses a flexible rotation strategy that includes both in-person and online instructional methods. This report describes the correlational associations between Read 180 Universal usage and student reading development during a two-year implementation at East High School in Rochester, NY, during the 2017–18 and 2018–19 school years.
East High School enrolls approximately 1,100 students organized into East Lower School (Grades 6–8) and East Upper School (Grades 9–12). During the 2017-18 school year, East students scoring at the below basic or basic levels on the Reading Inventory (RI) participated in Read 180 Universal every other day during a 72-minute period. Students scoring as a Pre-Decoder, Beginning Decoder, and Developing Decoder on the Phonics Inventory (PI) also received System 44 every other day. In the 2018–19 school year, students scoring at the below basic or basic levels on the RI engaged in Read 180 on a daily basis within a 72-minute period, while those scoring below basic or basic on the RI and below Advancing Decoder on the PI also engaged in System 44 daily.
Students experience the Read 180 software in segments, with each segment consisting of explore, reading, language, fluency, writing, and success zones. A segment typically takes roughly 2.5–3 hours to complete across multiple sessions. Students start with the “Mindset Matters” segment and then choose which segment they move on to next.
During the 2017–18 academic year, 218 sixth through ninth grade students participated in Read 180 Universal, as did 286 students in 2018–19 (see Table 1). Reflecting the demographics of the school district, a majority of students were Black and roughly 30% were Hispanic. A majority were also male, and over three out of four were eligible for free/reduced-price lunch. Between 11 and 18% of students received special education services, and over one-quarter were limited English proficient in 2017–18 as were just over 16% in 2018–19. One out of every three participating students were chronically absent each year, meaning they were absent over 10% of enrolled days.
As the outcome, this study used the Reading Inventory (RI), a computer-adaptive assessment designed to measure how well students read literature and expository texts of varying difficulties. It focuses on a broad set of skills, including: identifying details in a passage; identifying cause-and-effect relationships and sequence of events; drawing conclusions; and making comparisons and generalizations. During test administration, the computer adapts the test continually according to student responses. Performance on the Reading Inventory is reported as a Lexile (L) score. The higher a student’s score, the more challenging material that student is likely to be able to read and understand. Scores can range within the Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, and Advancing performance bands. The analyses in this report use results from RI administrations for the same students in the fall and spring of each academic year. We report results using two forms of the RI outcome: 1) binary indicators of whether students met their expected Lexile growth targets, which are based on both grade level and fall Lexile score, and; 2) yearly Lexile gains expressed as a proportion of actual gains over expected gains, where a value of 0.5 indicates one-half year of growth (or only 50% of expected growth), and a value of 2 indicates two years of reading growth in a single academic year, or reading development double the expected rate.
Our primary indicator of Read 180 Universal usage is the number of segments students completed during the academic year. We organize students into three groups: students who completed one or two segments; students who completed between three and five segments; and those who completed six or more Read 180 segments.
During the 2017–18 school year when East High students engaged Read 180 every other day, students completed an average of only 3.7 segments across 48 sessions. Students completed almost five segments on average over 67 sessions in 2018–19, when daily participation was required. Recall that one in three East High students were chronically absent each year. Chronically absent students experienced roughly 40 sessions during the 2017–18 school year, compared to an average of almost 52 sessions for students who were not chronically absent. We find the same pattern with the 2018–19 academic year: chronically absent students completed fewer than 60 sessions on average compared to over 70 sessions for students who were not chronically absent.
Results suggest that during the 2017–18 school year, 72.4% of medium-completion students met their RI growth target as did 66.7% of high-completion students, compared to 59.2% of their low-completion peers (see Figure 1). These associations were considerably stronger with the 2018-19 school year—the second year of Read 180 Universal implementation—when 80.6% of high-completion students and 72.5% of medium-completion students met their individualized RI growth target, compared to only 51.6% of low-completion students.
Expressed in terms of expected yearly RI growth, on average during the 2017–18 school year, high-completion students made 1.5 years of growth during the single academic year, medium-completion students made 1.24 years of growth, and growth among low-completion students was roughly what we would expect based their grade and fall RI score (see Figure 2).
Again, the results are more robust in the second implementation year. High-completion students made almost two years of RI gains during 2018–19 single school year. In other words, their gains were almost twice what we would predict within one academic year. Medium-completion students exhibited gains that were 65% above expectations, while gains among low-completion students were in line with expectations, as they were the prior year. These results were consistent across students regardless of race/ethnicity, free/reduced-price lunch eligibility, attendance, gender, and language and special education status.
The results described above provide evidence of the effectiveness of Read 180 at East High School, particularly during the 2018–19 academic year. During this final implementation year, we consistently found that students who completed more Read 180 segments experienced stronger reading growth. More specifically, students who completed between three and five Read 180 segments during the 2018–19 school year experienced 1.7 years of RI gains, while students who completed six or more segments exhibited RI gains that were equivalent to two years of academic growth during that single academic year. Put another way, compared to students who completed only one or two segments, the probabilities that medium- and high-segment-completion students met their Lexile growth targets were roughly 20 and 30 percentage points greater, respectively. Finally, it is important to stress that these may be conservative estimates, as the vast majority of students did not receive the recommended Read 180 dosages. Fidelity of implementation is critical: students who received a greater percentage of the recommended dosage consistently gained more than those students who received smaller dosages.