Federal Review: Read 180 Shows ‘Potentially Positive Effects’

By Mary Ann Zehr — October 21, 2009 1 min read
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The federal What Works Clearinghouse, which some have dubbed the “nothing works” clearinghouse because of its stringent criteria for deeming studies as valid, has determined that Read 180 shows “potentially positive effects” on student reading achievement. I write about the review by the clearinghouse in an article just published at

Out of 101 studies of the popular computerized reading program, the clearinghouse found seven met its standards “with reservations.” The clearinghouse concluded on the basis of those studies that the evidence for the impact of the curriculum is medium to large for reading comprehension and general literacy achievement.

I recently wrote a post about how a federal evaluation released this month had found Read 180 to have an impact on student reading achievement in one of the four sites that has used it as part of the Striving Readers program for adolescent literacy. In the post, I quoted Margery Mayer, the president of the education division of Scholastic Inc., as saying that when Read 180 “is implemented with fidelity, the program works.”

A reader contended in a comment on the blog, citing Table 5 of the evaluation, that the Striving Readers site using Read 180 found to have an effect on student achievement had the “lowest in-class fidelity to the study.” At that site, the Ohio Department of Youth Services used Read 180 as the primary reading curriculum for struggling readers in juvenile-correction facilities.

But according to Braden Goetz, the group leader for high school programs for the U.S. Department of Education, the data on fidelity from different sites are “not directly comparable” because each grantee chose its own intervention and own evaluator.

Table 5 says that evaluators found “high implementation” in 43 percent of the Ohio facilities and “moderate implementation” in an additional 43 percent of them. They found “low implementation” in the remaining 14 percent of facilities, according to Goetz.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.