A Program Evaluation of Read 180 Reading Intervention Program: Administrators’, Teachers’, and Students’ Perceptions of the Impact of Read 180 on Seventh and Eighth Grade Middle School Students with Learning Disabilities in One Large Urban School District
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This study focused on evaluating the READ 180 reading intervention program which is designed for students in grades 4 through 12 at least two years below level. The goal of READ 180 is to address the unique needs of adolescent learners and their literacy gaps through the use of literature, direct instruction in reading skills, and a computer program. In the 21st century, adolescents will have to read and write more than any other time in human history (National Institute for Literacy, 2007). As schools strive to improve student literacy, more than ever, districts are turning to programs such as READ 180 as a solution to ensure reading proficiency. Even though there are numerous research studies on the benefits of READ 180 (Caggiano, 2007; Papalewis, 2004; Scholastic, 2002), there is limited research that specifically focuses on whether or not READ 180 meets the needs of students with learning disabilities and students with learning disabilities who are English Language Learners (ELLs). This program evaluation examined administrators’, teachers’, and students’ perceptions of the impact of the READ 180 reading intervention program on reading comprehension skills in seventh and eighth grade middle school students with learning disabilities and seventh and eighth grade middle school students with learning disabilities who are English Language Learners (ELLs). Multiple sources of data were utilized for this program evaluation. Frequency distributions were used to analyze students’ survey responses. The constant comparison method was used to categorize, compare, and theme data collected from focus groups and interviews (Charmaz, 2006; Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Findings among students, READ 180 teachers, and administrators were similar, indicating the READ 180 program positively impacted students’ confidence in, and motivation toward reading. Additionally, findings revealed students, teachers, and administrators perceived the teacher has the greatest impact on improving reading comprehension skills. Students did not perceive their attitudes toward reading were influenced by READ 180; however, on their survey responses they indicated that they enjoyed reading and felt successful when reading. READ 180 teachers thought the program did influence students’ attitudes toward reading. During the focus groups, English Language Learners (ELLs) responded that the READ 180 did represent their cultural backgrounds and met their language learning needs; although, their survey data indicated students’ were not able to make connections to their family and home life when they read the stories, books, or completed the activities in the READ 180 class. Student focus group data revealed they perceived that the technology in READ 180 did facilitate their reading comprehension; however, their survey data indicated the computer as the least helpful of the program. READ 180 teachers perceived the technology in READ 180 did facilitate students’ reading comprehension while administrators perceived the technology did not facilitate students’ reading comprehension. Students in the READ 180 class enjoyed reading and felt successful in their reading comprehension. Results of the program evaluation have implications for instructional leadership and the support for literacy at the district level as well as at the school level.