READ 180: Phoenix Union High School District
At a glance
  • Moderate Evidence
  • Program: Read 180®
  • Subjects: Intervention Curriculum, Literacy Curriculum
  • Report Type: Efficacy Study, Study Conducted by Third Party
  • Grade Level: High
  • Region: Southwest
  • Population: English Learners
  • Race/Ethnicity: Black, Hispanic, Other
  • District Urbanicity: Urban, Suburban
  • District Size: Large
  • Implementation Model: 80+ minutes
  • District: Phoenix Union High School District, AZ
  • Participants: Cohort 1: N=1,652; Cohort 2: N=1,642; and Cohort 3: N=2,058
  • Outcome Measure: Stanford Achievement Test Series, Reading Test, Ninth Edition (SAT-9); TerraNova, AIMS Reading Test; Reading Inventory
  • Evaluation Period: 2003–2006
  • Study Conducted by: Policy Studies Associates (White & Haslam, 2005) and Scholastic Research
Successful findings replicated for three years in a row, including sustained results one year after intervention for English learners.

The Phoenix Union High School District (PUHSD) began implementing READ 180 in the fall of 2003 to help struggling ninth-grade students become proficient readers. Students were identified to participate in READ 180 if they scored below an 8.0 grade equivalent on the Stanford Achievement Test Series, Ninth Edition (SAT-9) during the spring of their eighth-grade year.

An independent research firm, Policy Studies Associates (PSA), evaluated the immediate impact on three cohorts of ninth-grade READ 180 students (White & Haslam, 2005). The study included ninth-grade students who participated in READ 180 during the 2003–2004 school year (Cohort 1), the 2004–2005 school year (Cohort 2), or the 2005–2006 school year (Cohort 3). Cohorts 1, 2, and 3 were each compared to matched groups of nonparticipants that were selected through propensity matching.

In addition to the evaluation of the end-of-ninth-grade findings, PSA also evaluated the longitudinal impact (during the spring of tenth grade) for the first two cohorts of students, approximately one year after program participation.


Study results showed that READ 180 participants outperformed matched nonparticipants on standardized reading tests at the end of ninth grade. Cohort 1 participants achieved significantly higher average scores on the SAT-9 (31.4 NCEs) than matched nonparticipants (30.1 NCEs) in spring 2004. Likewise, Cohort 2 READ 180 participants averaged significantly higher scores on the TerraNova® (41 NCEs) than did matched nonparticipants (38 NCEs) in spring 2005. Continuing this positive trend, Cohort 3 READ 180 participants achieved significantly higher average scores on the TerraNova than did their matched nonparticipating peers (39.0 NCEs vs. 38.1 NCEs, respectively).

In addition to finding READ 180 participants outperforming matched nonparticipants after one year of READ 180, the study found that the benefits of participation in READ 180 persisted into tenth grade for English learners (EL) and low-performing students who had scored in the bottom third of their eighth-grade SAT-9 Reading Test.

Among EL students, READ 180 participants in Cohort 1 and Cohort 2 performed better than their matched nonparticipants on their tenth-grade AIMS Reading test in 2005. Cohort 1 EL students achieved 654 scale score points, while matched EL nonparticipants earned 646 scale score points (Graph 1). Similarly, Cohort 2 EL READ 180 participants averaged scores that were significantly higher on the 2006 AIMS Reading test, one year after READ 180, than matched nonparticipants (650 and 642 scale score points, respectively).

4.2 Phoenix Union Graph 1

GRAPH 1. Phoenix Union High School District Cohort 1 EL Students (N=234)

Performance on Tenth-Grade AIMS Reading Test, 2005

Note. The difference between the percentage of READ 180 and non-READ 180 EL students who fell far below the standard is statistically significant (p<0.05).

For students who had scored in the bottom third of their eighth-grade tests, prior to intervention, longitudinal results in both cohorts also indicate a lasting positive impact of READ 180. For example, Cohort 2 READ 180 students who had scored below 30 NCEs on their eighth-grade SAT-9 achieved higher scale scores on the tenth-grade AIMS Reading test, on average, than matched comparison students. Among these initially low-scoring students, READ 180 participants averaged 652 scale score points, while the comparison students averaged 648 scale score points. The difference is statistically significant (Graph 2).

4.2 Phoenix Union Graph 2

GRAPH 2. Phoenix Union High School District Cohort 2 Students Who Scored Below 30 NCEs on Eighth-Grade SAT-9 (N=578)

Performance on Tenth-Grade AIMS Reading Test, 2006

Note. The difference in score is statistically significant, and the effect size is +0.16.

In a separate analysis, Scholastic Research (2006) analyzed READ 180 Cohort 3 Reading Inventory® data disaggregated by student groups. The analysis revealed that African American participants averaged a gain of 11.9 NCEs, Hispanic participants averaged a gain of 9.4 NCEs, and all other participants averaged 9.6 NCEs (Graph 3).

4.2 Phoenix Union Graph 3

GRAPH 3. Phoenix Union High School District READ 180 Students, Grade 9 (N=1,029)

Change in Reading Inventory NCE Score by Ethnicity, 2005 to 2006

  • White, R. N., & Haslam, M. B. (2005). Study of the performance of READ 180 participants in the Phoenix Union High School District 2003–04 and 2004–05. Washington, DC: Policy Studies Associates, Inc.