Located in Indian River School District (IRSD), Selbyville Middle School was identified as a school “Under Review” by the Delaware Department of Education during the 2001–2002 school year. This designation is based on low student performance on the Delaware Student Testing Program (DSTP), which places students into five performance levels (Well Below the Standard, Below the Standard, Meets the Standard, Exceeds the Standard, and Distinguished). In 2002, only 31% of IRSD students with disabilities in sixth through eighth grade met the standard on the DSTP Reading Test, as compared with 83% of all students.
In order to decrease the achievement gap between general education students and students with disabilities, IRSD piloted READ 180 at Selbyville Middle School (Selbyville) during the 2003–2004 school year. Students performing in the bottom quartile on standardized assessments were selected to participate in READ 180. The program was so successful at improving the reading achievement for Selbyville’s struggling students that IRSD expanded READ 180 to sixth- through eighth-grade students at Sussex Central Middle School (Sussex Central). By the 2004–2005 school year,184 students were enrolled in READ 180. Of these, 84% were students with disabilities (Table 1).
Pretest (spring 2004) and posttest (spring 2005) Reading Inventory® data were collected for 184 students receiving READ 180. When the data were disaggregated by grade, sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students achieved average Lexile® (L) gains (153L, 217L, and 167L, respectively) that exceeded annual growth expectations. Typically, middle school students performing at the 25th percentile are expected to gain 75L each year on the Reading Inventory. Based on the fall-to-spring norms on which Reading Inventory growth expectations are based, READ 180 students evidenced more than two years of reading growth (Graph 1).
In addition, eighth-grade DSTP data were analyzed from 1998 to 2005. Findings show that in 2004, after READ 180 was implemented, greater percentages of eighth-grade students met or exceeded the standard on the DSTP. When the data were disaggregated by student group, findings show that eighth-grade students with disabilities showed greater improvement in DSTP performance than all students with disabilities did as a whole (Graph 2). Among eighth graders, the percentage of students with disabilities meeting or exceeding standards increased by 51 percentage points while the percentage of eighth-grade students as a whole increased by 7 percentage points. These data suggests that READ 180 students with disabilities, in making these large gains, have reduced the gap that existed between students with disabilities and other eighth-grade students on the DSTP.