In fall 2004, the Austin Independent School District (AISD) began using READ 180 to help struggling seventh and eighth graders become proficient readers. An independent research firm, Policy Studies Associates (PSA), studied the changes in reading proficiency achieved by READ 180 participants during the 2004–2005 school year (Haslam, White, & Klinge, 2006).
AISD students selected to participate in READ 180 were either limited-English proficient (LEP) students, students with disabilities, or students performing below grade level on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills™ (TAKS) Reading test. Of the 343 seventh and eighth graders initially assigned to READ 180, 97.4% did not meet the statewide standard on TAKS prior to the intervention. In the sample of READ 180 students included in this analysis (N=307), approximately 89% were LEP and 3% were students with disabilities. The majority of students in the sample were Hispanic (94%), approximately 4% were African American, and 2% were Asian.
During the 2004–2005 school year, PSA examined the impact of READ 180 on the reading achievement of middle school students, as demonstrated by the TAKS Reading test. PSA used one-to-one propensity matching to identify a sample of students not participating in READ 180 whose characteristics closely matched those of READ 180 participants (Table 1). Exact matches were possible for grade, ethnicity, gender, free and reduced-price lunch eligibility, and disability classification. However, it was not possible to find an exact match based on 2004 TAKS Reading scores and LEP status. There was no statistically significant difference in 2004 TAKS Reading (pretest) between participants and nonparticipants.
Findings indicate that READ 180 participants evidenced significantly greater gains on TAKS Reading from 2004 to 2005 than students in a matched comparison group of nonparticipants. Specifically, the average score of READ 180 participants increased by 6.6 NCE points (+0.6). During the same period, the average TAKS score of the nonparticipants increased 4.7 Normal Curve Equivalent (NCE) points (+0.7) (Graph 1).
Haslam, M. B., White, R. N., & Klinge, A. (2006). Improving student literacy: READ 180 in the Austin Independent School District 2004–05. Washington, DC: Policy Studies Associates, Inc.