Since 1964, Job Corps, a national program designed to provide at-risk young adults with educational and job training, has helped over two million youths gain the skills needed to obtain long-term employment opportunities. Job Corps provides vocational training and academic services in areas such as reading and math. Enrollment in Job Corps is voluntary, with students entering the program at different times and progressing at their own pace. Students entering the program range in age from 16 to 24. The typical Job Corps student is an 18-year-old high school dropout who reads at the seventh-grade level, belongs to a minority group, and has never held a full-time job. Approximately 70% of Job Corps enrollees are members of minority groups, 80% are high school dropouts, and more than 30% are from families on public assistance. The School for Integrated Academics & Technologies (SIATech) is a public charter high school with campuses located at Job Corps centers nationwide. Prior to 2004, SIATech was known as Guajome Park Academy.
During the 2002–2003 school year, SIATech implemented READ 180 at four of its Job Corps sites in California. From 2002 to 2003, 68 students participated in READ 180 for four to eight weeks, and 39 students participated in READ 180 for nine weeks or longer. Student achievement data were collected by SIATech and analyzed by an independent researcher in collaboration with Scholastic Research (Admon, 2004).
READ 180 was assigned to 307 students (or 25.6% of the total sample). Approximately 26% of READ 180 students were classified as High Risk students, and 26% of READ 180 students were classified as Moderate Risk students.
In order to measure the effectiveness of READ 180, results from the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE®) were analyzed. On average, students who were in READ 180 for four to eight weeks gained 82.3 TABE points while students in READ 180 for nine weeks or longer gained 115.1 TABE points (Graph 1).
For this analysis, students’ pretest and posttest mean scores were converted to grade equivalents. On average, students using READ 180 for four to eight weeks gained four grade levels, while students in READ 180 for nine weeks or longer gained five grade levels (Table 1).
Correlation and multiple regression tests revealed that time spent in the program had a significant and positive impact on TABE scores. The average growth from pretest to posttest was larger for students who stayed in READ 180 longer. The greatest gains were made by students who were in the READ 180 program for an average of 16 weeks. These students were also the lowest-performing students at pretest.