Nationally, one-third of American middle and high school students fail to demonstrate competency over grade-level reading skills (NAEP, 2017). Students who do not meet or exceed benchmark scores on state and national tests are less likely to graduate from high school, are less likely to persist in or successfully complete future academic and workplace training endeavors, and are overall less likely to be on track for future academic and workplace success (CCRSC, 2013). Tigard-Tualatin School District identified the need for an intervention to accelerate the district’s most struggling readers to grade-level reading proficiency.
READ 180 Universal is an intervention program designed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt® (HMH®) to build reading comprehension, academic vocabulary, and writing skills for struggling students in Grade 4 and up. Students progress through six workshops that include differentiated instruction, adaptive software, writing tasks, and project-based learning assessments. This blended learning solution begins with whole-group learning that focuses on close reading strategies, academic vocabulary exercises, writing practice, and discussions, then rotates between the: a) student application with a personalized path of self-paced independent work; b) student-selected independent reading material to make reading a daily habit; and c) small groups with data-driven instruction, all of which is followed by a whole-group wrap up. READ 180 Universal utilizes engaging and relevant content and research-based digital solutions to motivate students and increase reading fluency and comprehension.
Students in Grades 6, 7, 8, and 10 experienced the Single Period Instructional Model for 45 minutes daily.
Students in Grade 9 experienced the Double Period Instructional Model for 90 minutes every other day.
The Tigard-Tualatin School District (TTSD) is the tenth largest of 198 school districts in Oregon. TTSD served 12,686 Grades K–12 students in the 2017–2018 school year, of which 3 middle schools served 2,817 students and 2 high schools served 3,772 students. TTSD serves a diverse population of students with a range of ethnic backgrounds: African American (2%), Asian (5%), White or European American (58%), Hispanic (25%), Native American (3%), and students with multiple ethnic backgrounds (7%). In the 2017–2018 school year, 36% of students in the district were eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunch through the National School Lunch Program, 22% were English learners (EL), and 10% were classified as Students with Disabilities (SWD).
All middle and high schools in TTSD utilized READ 180 Universal as a Tier 2 reading intervention during the 2017–2018 school year. Students were placed into and exited intervention classes regularly based on reading comprehension progress. All students who completed at least 15 READ 180 Universal sessions totaling at least 150 minutes and no other interventions were included in the analysis (N = 361); 24 students with less use were excluded. Because of the personalized and self-paced nature of the program, students had varying patterns of use, with some students working in READ 180 Universal for the entire year (70%), some working for one semester (17%), and some working for only a couple of months (13%). Students in this analysis attended Fowler Middle School (n = 85), Hazelbrook Middle School (n = 81), Twality Middle School (n = 101), Tigard High School (n = 50), and Tualatin High School (n = 44). Student ethnic backgrounds included African American (2%), Asian (2%), White or European American (40%), Hispanic (47%), Native American (5%), and students with multiple ethnic backgrounds (4%). Of these students, 60% were male and 40% were female, 8% were classified as ELs, and 4% were classified as students with disabilities.
TTSD students in Grades 6 to 11 were identified as struggling with reading comprehension based on DIBELS® scores and 2017 Smarter Balanced Assessment English Language Arts/Literacy performance levels. Those students who scored in the recommended Lexile® (L) range on the HMH Reading Inventory® (between 400-850L in Grade 6, 400-900L in Grades 7 or 8, 400-969L in Grade 9, and 400-1000L in Grades 10 or 11) were placed in READ 180 Universal instruction in addition to a regular English Language Arts class.
Students in Grades 6, 7, 8, and 10 received regular 45-minute ELA instruction daily as well as 45-minute READ 180 Universal instruction daily. In this Single Period Instruction Model, students alternated A and B patterns of instruction, with A days consisting of 20 minutes of whole-group instruction followed by 20 minutes of a station rotation (rotated between the online student application, small-group learning, and independent reading), and concluding with 5 minutes of whole-group wrap up, and B days consisting of 20 minutes each of 2 station rotations and concluding with 5 minutes of whole-group wrap up. Students in Grade 9 received regular 90-minute ELA instruction every other day as well as 90-minute READ 180 Universal instruction every other day. In this Double Period Instruction Model, students received 20 minutes of whole-group instruction followed by 20 minutes at each station rotation (online student application, small-group learning, and independent reading), and concluding with 10 minutes of whole-group wrap up.
TTSD teachers completed a one-day “Getting Started” training day to learn how to use the READ 180 Universal program technology, differentiation features, and program assessments. During the 2017–2018 school year, teachers also received 32 days of coaching to learn about effective planning, progress monitoring, and further instruction on using differentiation and assessments.
Student software usage data was collected as students used the online student application during READ 180 Universal instruction. Software usage data included number of completed segments, number of completed sessions, average time spent in each session, and number of sessions averaged per week.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment was designed to measure end-of-year achievement in ELA and to accurately capture growth in ELA proficiency from previous years. The SBA measures ELA achievement in reading, writing, listening, and research using a computer adaptive system to deliver between 42 and 48 questions. Assessment results include a scale score between 2,000 and 3,000 and an achievement level descriptor indicating overall performance level ranging from 1 to 4, with a 3 or higher indicating grade-level ELA proficiency. TTSD students complete the SBA each spring in Grades 3–8 and also in Grade 11.
The HMH Reading Inventory measures reading comprehension proficiency for students in Grades K–12. The Reading Inventory uses adaptive technology to determine a student’s reading comprehension level on the Lexile Framework for Reading; the higher the Lexile score, the more challenging reading material the student can comprehend. Test item difficulty ranges from items appropriate for developing readers to items requiring a reading proficiency indicating preparedness for college level texts, allowing measurement of skill growth regardless of the students’ initial ability. Assessment results include a Lexile scale score that indicates reading ability at a level of text complexity and a performance level of below basic, basic, proficient, and advanced, indicating achieved reading comprehension compared to grade-level expectations. TTSD students receiving READ 180 Universal instruction completed the Reading Inventory in the fall of 2017 (August through October) before beginning instruction, again in the winter (November through January), and again in the spring of 2018 (April or May) following instruction.
The English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century was designed to measure English learners’ achievement of the English Language Proficiency Standards and the language demands for college and career readiness. Students are assessed on the four domains of Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. Assessment results include a scale score and performance level for each domain (Beginning, Early Intermediate, Intermediate, Early Advanced, or Advanced) as well as an Overall Proficiency Determination (OPD) level (Emerging, Progressing, or Proficient); students remain in EL services until a “proficient” OPD level is achieved on the ELPA21 as determined by the overall profile of proficiency across domains. TTSD students designated as EL, and some who have exited the program in the previous four years, complete the ELPA21 each spring.
Students (N = 361) completed an average of 3.7 segments (SD = 3.2) over an average of 52.3 total sessions (SD = 25.4), with 2.1 (SD = 0.6) sessions averaged a week in the online student application. Consistent with the implementation model, each session lasted an average of 13.5 (SD = 3.0) minutes.
An independent evaluator from Forge Research Group analyzed student academic achievement using test score data provided by the Tigard-Tualatin School District and program usage data provided by HMH. READ 180 Universal students’ ELA performance was examined pre- and post-READ 180 Universal implementation using multiple independent measures of reading, including scores on the statewide end-of-year summative assessment (SBA), the Reading Inventory, and, for English learners, the English proficiency exam (ELPA21). READ 180 Universal students demonstrated statistically significant gains in ELA proficiency during the 2017–2018 school year on each of these reading measures. TTSD students took the SBA ELA in spring 2017, prior to READ 180 Universal instruction, and again in spring 2018, after instruction. Students demonstrated a statistically significant overall gain in SBA ELA scale score, averaging a 30-point increase from 2017 to 2018 (see Figure 1). The increase in the average SBA ELA scale score was statistically significant for Grade 6 (36 points), Grade 7 (18 points), and Grade 8 (33 points) students. Grades 9 and 10 did not take the SBA. Notably, students who completed at least one semester of instruction showed accelerated growth in percentile (see Figure 2) compared to their initially same-scoring Oregon peers. On average, students scored better than 21% of their peers in 2017 but better than 23% of their peers in 2018. Further, 26% of students gained at least 10 points in percentile rank and 10% gained at least 20 points in percentile rank from 2017 to 2018.
Students placed in READ 180 Universal instruction completed the Reading Inventory as a pre- and post-implementation test. The Reading Inventory is sensitive enough to capture below-grade-level ELA ability and growth that is not usually captured by state summative assessments for the lowest scoring students. As 23% of the READ 180 Universal students were in the tenth or less percentile in 2017, much of the students’ growth is not captured by the summative assessment.
Students who completed the Reading Inventory in both the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2018 demonstrated a statistically significant overall gain in Lexile (L) scores, averaging a 107L increase from 705L in fall to 812L in spring (see Figure 3). Further, the increase in average Reading Inventory scores was statistically significant for Grade 6 (107L), Grade 7 (126L), Grade 8 (133L), and Grade 9 (102L) students. Of note, there was a high percentage of Grade 10 students who decreased more than 100L from fall to spring (usually indicating poor testing motivation; 10% compared to the 2% in other grades), and combined with the small sample size, brought the overall average down. Excluding these students, the average increase in Reading Inventory Lexile score (72L) was statistically significant for Grade 10 students.
In addition to demonstrating statistically significant Lexile gains, READ 180 Universal students demonstrated accelerated Lexile score gains compared to the average annual growth demonstrated by an initially same-scoring national sample. Notably, on average, students gained approximately 1.7 times as many Lexile scores as would be expected (100L compared to 60L) from beginning to exiting READ 180 Universal instruction (see Figure 4), demonstrating accelerated growth towards grade-level performance.
Importantly, READ 180 Universal students also increased in grade-level reading ability (see Figures 5 and 6). The percentage of Grades 6 through 10 students who demonstrated reading comprehension ability at or above grade-level requirements for College and Career Readiness increased from 1% to 11% and the percentage of students who demonstrated reading comprehension ability five or more grades below grade level decreased from 32% to 18%.
With just one year of instruction, 32% of the students increased two or more grade levels in reading comprehension. Of note, increasing a grade level at the lower elementary school reading comprehension level requires close to twice as many Lexile score gains as does an increase in grade level ability at the middle school level. As such, the increase of one grade level in reading comprehension represents more absolute growth for the students with the lowest initial grade-level reading ability than for students with the highest initial grade-level reading ability.
Further, increased use of the READ 180 Universal online software was a statistically significant predictor of Lexile score growth (both before and after statistically correcting for selection bias; see Appendix Table 5). As noted previously, due to the movement of students into and out of READ 180 Universal instruction based on individual reading achievement and progress, there was a wide range in total number of segments completed. On average, students who completed more segments of the READ 180 Universal online software also achieved higher gains in the Reading Inventory Lexile score (see Figure 7). Students who completed 4 to 6 segments online (low implementation) achieved an average of 1.5 times more Lexile score gain (123L) and students who completed 7 or more segments online (moderate or high implementation) achieved an average of 1.7 times more Lexile score gain (139L and 145L, respectively) compared to students who completed 1 to 3 segments (minimal implementation) online (83L). Students who completed less than one segment (partial implementation) still demonstrated a Lexile gain, though it was much smaller (34L).
Summary Growth Metrics (see Figure 8) show the significant extent of reading comprehension growth during the 2017–2018 school year. With just one year of use, the majority of READ 180 Universal students achieved a Lexile gain on the Reading Inventory (83%) and met end-of-year growth expectations (63%) based on Estimated Average Annual Growth adjusted for days of instruction between tests. Additionally, 37% of READ 180 Universal students more than doubled end-of-year growth expectations, and 39% of students increased at least one level on the Reading Inventory College & Career Performance Levels.
Growth on the Reading Inventory from fall 2017 to spring 2018 was highest for the most struggling readers (see Figure 9). Students who initially scored in the Below Basic performance level on the Reading Inventory gained an average of 128L (r = .75, a large effect) and achieved an average of 1.5 times the expected growth during the 2017–2018 school year, demonstrating accelerated growth in approaching grade-level proficiency compared to students who initially scored in the Basic performance level, who gained an average of 67L (r = .45, a medium effect) and achieved an average of 1.2 times the expected growth.
In addition to SBA ELA scale score and Reading Inventory Lexile gains, students also achieved increased performance levels on reading measures (see Figures 10 and 11). The percentage of students achieving a Level 3 (proficient) SBA ELA achievement level descriptor (ALD) almost tripled, increasing from 4% to 11%, while the percentage of students scoring at a Level 1 decreased from 57% to 52% from 2017 to 2018. The percentage of students achieving at least a Proficient Reading Inventory performance level increased from 2% to 12% and the percentage of students scoring at a Below Basic performance level decreased from 60% to 31% from 2017 to 2018. The increase in students’ performance levels on both the SBA ELA assessment and the Reading Inventory was statistically significant.
Overall, after one year of READ 180 Universal instruction, 27% of students increased a performance level on the state end-of-year summative assessment (SBA) and 40% of students increased a performance level on the Reading Inventory (see Table 1).
Of note, low-achieving students receive less precisely targeted SBA ELA scale scores (with greater measurement error) as few assessment items measure lower levels of achievement (SBAC, 2019). This results in greater year-to-year test score fluctuation that does not reflect actual change in ability. If a student’s scale score borders the cut score between two achievement levels, accounting for measurement error, the student’s true score lies within both achievement levels. All READ 180 Universal students who decreased an achievement level descriptor on the SBA ELA from 2017 to 2018 scored within 35 points of the cut score in 2017, indicating an equal likelihood of either remaining or decreasing in achievement level during the next test administration if actual ability remained the same.
Notably, disaggregation of the data indicated that use of READ 180 Universal was associated with gains in both SBA ELA scale scores and Reading Inventory Lexile gains for all categories of students analyzed by gender, disability classification, ethnicity, and classification as ELs.
When results were disaggregated by gender, both males and females achieved statistically significant SBA ELA scale score gains (see Figure 12) and Reading Inventory Lexile score gains (see Figure 13) from pre- to post-READ 180 Universal use.
When results were disaggregated by education classification, students with disabilities (see Figure 14) achieved nearly statistically significant SBA ELA scale score gains (despite the small sample size) and statistically significant Reading Inventory gains (see Figure 15). In addition to gaining an average of 141L on the Reading Inventory, 89% of the SWD met yearly growth goals.
When results were disaggregated by ethnicity, Hispanic and White or European American students achieved statistically significant SBA ELA scale score gains from pre- to post-READ 180 Universal use (see Figure 16). Similarly, Asian, White or European American, Hispanic, and Native American students and students with multiple ethnic identities achieved statistically significant Reading Inventory gains during the 2017–2018 school year (see Figure 17). Although the sample was too small to analyze gains statistically, African American students gained an average of 159L on the Reading Inventory and 67% met yearly growth goals.
When results were disaggregated by EL classification, EL students achieved statistically significant SBA ELA scale score gains (see Figure 18) and significant Reading Inventory gains (see Figure 19).
Average increases in reading scores on the ELPA21 further support the idea that READ 180 Universal increases reading comprehension achievement. TTSD students classified as ELs as well as some students who exited the EL program in the previous four years completed the ELPA21 in spring 2017, prior to using READ 180 Universal, and again in spring 2018, after using READ 180 Universal. Students demonstrated a statistically significant gain in the ELPA21 Reading scale score, averaging an 18-point increase from 536 in 2017 to 554 in 2018 (see Figure 20).
READ 180 Universal students also achieved increased Overall Proficiency Determination levels (OPD; a profile based on proficiency in the four domains) on the ELPA21. The increase in students’ overall ELPA21 performance level was statistically significant and the percent of students achieving a Proficient ELPA21 performance level increased fivefold from 2% in 2017 to 10% in 2018 (see Figure 21). Significantly, students are ready to exit EL services once a Proficient overall level is achieved on the ELPA21.
Multiple independent measures support the idea that students who received READ 180 Universal instruction during the 2017–2018 school year made significant improvements in English Language Arts and Literacy achievement. After one year of instruction, Grades 6 through 10 students in the Tigard-Tualatin School District demonstrated statistically significant increases in Smarter Balanced Assessment ELA scale scores, HMH Reading Inventory Lexile scores, and ELPA21 Reading domain scores. In addition to statistically significant year-to-year gains, READ 180 Universal students achieved accelerated growth in SBA ELA scale scores compared to initially same-scoring Oregon peers and gained approximately 1.7 times as many Lexile scores as would be expected based on the average yearly growth of a national sample.
Importantly, the percentage of students who demonstrated grade-level or higher reading comprehension ability increased from 1% to 11% and 32% of students increased two or more grade levels in reading comprehension. Additionally, 27% of students moved up an achievement level descriptor on the SBA ELA and 40% of students moved up a performance level on the Reading Inventory.
Disaggregation of the data by gender, ethnicity, SWD, and EL classification indicated that READ 180 Universal instruction was associated with significant gains in Reading Inventory Lexile scores for all categories of students. Students completed varying amounts of READ 180 Universal online student application segments during the school year – increased number of completed segments was a statistically significant predictor of increased reading Lexile score growth during the 2017–2018 school year. This study demonstrates that using READ 180 Universal to provide self-paced, personalized instruction in a reading intervention classroom is an effective method of increasing literacy for students struggling to achieve grade-level ELA proficiency.
College and Career Readiness and Success Center (CCRSC). (2013). Predictors of postsecondary success. Washington, DC: American Institute for Research.
Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). (2019). Assessments interpretive guide. Santa Cruz, CA: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
U.S. Department of Education. National Department of Educational Progress (NAEP). (2017). The nation’s report card: 2017 reading assessment. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.
Tigard-Tualatin School District 2018 Report Card. https://www.ttsdschools.org
HMH Reading Inventory: Estimated Average Annual Growth; analysis of 373,880 students’ fall to spring Lexile score gains
As a previous Reading Inventory gains analysis has shown that students who decrease more than 100L on the Reading Inventory from fall to spring demonstrate poor test motivation and produce unreliable longitudinal achievement scores, those students were excluded from this section of the analysis. The Reading Inventory scores of 4.6% of TTSD students (n = 11) decreased more than 100L, in line with previous findings that 2% to 5% of students will drop >100L even with implementation best practices.
Test scores include measurement error due to the sample of test questions administered, testing conditions, student guessing, student motivation, etc. The standard error of measurement (SEM) for the student’s scale score provides the range of scores the student is likely to earn if that student were to take the test multiple times without receiving further instruction. The SEM is largest (near ±50) for students scoring below the 50th percentile, and therefore scores and achievement levels may fluctuate year-to-year.