Muhlenberg County School District (MCSD) has implemented READ 180 since the 2015–2016 school year. MCSD identified a need for a Tier 2 research-based intervention program in the two middle schools and one high school and committed to READ 180 because of its strong research base and decades of positive results for older striving readers. The HMH® professional services team worked closely with the administration staff and teachers to develop an implementation model that entailed digital access to READ 180 and student-teacher conferences to support goal setting using a 30-minute period built into the school’s schedule.
During the 2017–2018 school year, Muhlenberg High School implemented READ 180 Next Generation with their high school students qualifying for intervention services using only the READ 180 Student Application (Student App) in their 30-minute intervention block. Two teachers attended Getting Started and follow-up trainings and were active participants in all follow-up coaching sessions. The READ 180 teachers examined students’ progress reports on a weekly basis, and results were communicated to the students each week setting clear goals and outlining areas of improvement. Teachers, therefore, regularly conferenced with their students on their progress and results of the data and developed strong relationships with their students. Incentives were also in place for those who achieved their goals. Students who tested proficient were able to choose another 30-minute class of their choice.
The study sample consisted of 25 students in Grades 9–12 at Muhlenberg High School who participated in a software-only implementation of READ 180 Next Generation, where students solely engaged with the software component of the program. In the district, the majority of the students were White (92%), followed by students of two or more races (3%), Black students (2%), Hispanic students (2%), and Asian students (1%). Fifty-nine percent of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
To be included in the study, students must have completed 20+ software sessions and HMH Reading Inventory® assessments that were at least eight weeks apart. A pretest and posttest design was utilized to determine growth in the HMH Reading Inventory Lexile® scores over the 2017–2018 academic school year. Lexile gains from the pretest to the posttest were analyzed, and the percentage of students exceeding average growth was determined.
The Effects of READ 180 Software Usage on Reading Growth
Muhlenberg High School students in Grades 9–12 demonstrated significant gains in their Lexile scores in a digital-only implementation of the READ 180 Next Generation program.
The results showed that student Lexile scores increased from the start to the end of the digital-only implementation, with an average increase of 203 Lexile points (see Graph 1). On average, students started with a mean Lexile score of 593L in the fall and ended with a mean Lexile score of 796L in the spring. This resulted in an average growth rate of 1.9 years with 80% of students exceeding average annual growth.
Students completed an average of 58 sessions during this time (max=94) for an average of 2–3 sessions per week. The average time spent on a session was 16 minutes.
The findings from this study demonstrate that high school students who engaged in a software-only implementation of the READ 180 Next Generation program demonstrated significant reading growth as measured by the Reading Inventory. With approximately two-and-a-half, 16-minute sessions of READ 180 Next Generation software per week during their academic school year, 80% of high school students exceeded average growth, experiencing almost two times the typical growth rate. In addition, the frequent time spent conferencing with the students, building the teacher-student relationship, and staying committed to the HMH coaching services for the READ 180 teachers contributed to the academic success of the students. This study has promising implications for schools who might be considering software-only options to accelerate students’ reading levels in the upper grades.