"Read 180" Rolls Out Across Chicago [updated]


After a pilot program was deemed successful, CPS has decided to roll out Read 180, Scholastic’s adolescent remedial reading program, to a broader set of schools 

According to the attached press release, CPS is going to implement it at 80 elementary schools and serve 8600 students. The expansion is based on a semester-long pilot at 48 elementary schools showing 30 percent of students improving by a year within just 12 weeks.

I’m going to try and get the list of schools and a copy of the evaluation report, but in the meantime I’m wondering whether any of you or your children have had to deal with Read 180 at your school and how it’s gone.  Does it help the kids who are behind, or is it just a boondoggle?

Update:  Here’s the list of schools that participated and are slated to join the expansion. 

READ 180 Participating Schools’ List 12-1-09.xlsx

Launches Read 180 Program in 80 Elementary Schools

to improve reading skills of 6th-8th graders performing
below grade level


The Chicago Public Schools announced
today the launch of Read 180, a new literacy program designed to improve the
reading skills of 6-8th grade students reading below grade level.
The program aims to bring students up to grade level in time for their
transition to high school.


The district will roll-out the Read
180 program for 8600 students in 80 elementary schools during the 2009-2010
school year. CPS expects students enrolled in the program to gain up to two
years of reading skills by Spring 2010.


“As we work to close the
achievement gap, we are taking a close look at student performance in core
areas such as reading. This program specifically targets students who have
fallen behind and provides personalized instruction to help them get back on
track,” said Ron Huberman, CPS chief executive officer.


The Read 180 program provides selected
students with intensive reading instruction for 90 minutes each day. Class
sizes are kept small at 15-20 students. During each reading class, students
rotate between small group instruction (5-7 students in each group),
computer-based practice and independent reading sessions.


Last semester, CPS implemented the
Read 180 pilot program at 48 schools and participating students made
significant gains. Nearly 30 percent of students increased reading levels by a full
year or more within 12 weeks, according to Lexile scores which determine
reading levels.


“After studying the data, we
believe this program can help our struggling students make significant progress
in reading within the next school year,” Huberman added.


The Read 180 program is provided by
Scholastic, a leader in education publishing and curricula. For more
information on Read 180 visit: www.scholastic.com


Public Schools serves approximately 408,000 students in more than 650 schools.
It is the nation’s third-largest school district. For more information on
CPS literacy programs visit: www.cps.edu


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Filed under: 125 S. Clark Street


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  • why not just teach the kids to read in the first place. setting up a remedial program is admitting that the system is failing the children. spend money and resources on regular classroom instruction and stop with the scare hubertatics of smash and burn privatization.

    It is obvious non-educators are running the show into the ground and making sure their buddies get money for nothing!

  • In reply to kuglerjohn:

    It seems that money would be better spent supporting neighborhood schools to help students from the "get go". Just shows you Chicago how disconnected the top administrators are from the classroom!!!

  • There is some evidence that Read 180 has positive effects in improving the reading skills of some students with disabilities. Scholastic has on its Read 180 website a link to a report on how this program works for students with disabilities titled:

  • Doesn't READ 180 require relatively sophisticated PCs?

  • In reply to EdMentor:

    There are not enough computer for schools to do the Scantron Benchmark tests as it is, and now this.. Do computer labs become testing stations only! I have a feeling that Huberman and team need to score some points even though the details haven't been worked out. Isn't that what got him trouble before!!!


  • In reply to EdMentor:

    From Fred:
    Read 180 also requires massive intensive training in addition to the dedicated labs. Research is good when it is implemented properly but implementation is a big issue. I doubt if the current crowd knows enough or is willing to put in the dollars to make it work. It is expensive.

  • In reply to EdMentor:

    here's the list of schools that piloted the program and were evaluated -- as well as the new sites that will get the program if they haven't already.


    / alexander

  • In reply to EdMentor:

    The link to the list of schools isn't working for me for some reason. Could you please post the names of the schools or otherwise provide a link to a document in a different format?

  • In reply to pschearf:

    Nevermind, I opened it from home. My work computer has an older version of Excel.

  • In reply to EdMentor:

    I work at a school that has recently "implemented it." While I think the materials for the program are really good, as are some of the methods, my school has not invested in training staff properly. The older teaching staff is completely adverse to implementation, so when pressed, they use it in a borderline aggressive manner with the students. It's a horrible shame. Actually, it's sickening.

  • In reply to EdMentor:

    Why is that?: "The older teaching staff is completely adverse to implementation..."

    What is/are the real reasons for older teachers are resisting implementation, in your assessment?

  • In reply to EdMentor:


    This school moved from a balanced literacy to a basal program, as well. For what it's worth, I am a huge balanced literacy advocate and bemoan the basal program. However, when a new principal came in and implemented all of the curriculum changes (and Read 180), the older teaching staff had the most criticism. I see many of these teachers oing a lot of half-way implementation of the programs.

    I have my own issue with Read 180 and related programs---And I'm of a younger set. However, the most vocal seem to be the older teachers. Just an observation.

  • In reply to EdMentor:

    Also, to be clear, what I think is the "horrible shame" is that the school invests in the expensive curriculum and doesn't properly train the employees. I don't mean, merely going through the manual and modeling proper instruction methods (that was done!) but also providing research and background on why the program was chosen. This piece is so often missing.

  • In reply to EdMentor:

    Are the older teachers' criticisms valid and reasoned?

  • In reply to EdMentor:

    We have also implemented this program at my school. I am teaching this program to eighth graders although I do not hold a L. A. endorsement on my teaching certificate. I have had to file a grievance which is still pending. My understanding is that the decision on how exactly to implement the program lies at the school level. Does anyone really want a non-certified person teaching their below grade level children? Does anyone tell them?

  • In reply to sameoldstory:

    Huberman has no clue. He and his cronies don't know the difference between BUYING a program and IMPLEMENTING a program correctly. Idiots! Huberman just wants to tout that he is doing something and doesn't want anyone to question how it is implemented!

  • In reply to sameoldstory:

    The What Works Clearinghouse suggests that Read 180 has potentially positive effects on general literacy achievement. So that's good.

    But I thought the district was moving away from any centralized supports, and CAOs (or maybe principals) get to decide what will be done in the schools. So what's the deal with the district rolling out an initiative like this? Will they be providing the necessary training? The assistance with implementation? The coaching? The Huberteam's strategy is so bizarre - degrading the concept of district level supports or programs and saying that CAOs have full autonomy, while simultaneously providing district programs. I just don't get it. Of course I don't think they get it either...


  • In reply to sameoldstory:

    As I indicated yesterday in my post CPS in 2009 using ISAT reading data had 8,855 students with disabilities reading below standards in grades 6-8 which the READ 180 program targets. The CPS also had 15,962 students without IEPs in these grades who are reading below standards for a total of 24,817 students needing reading intervention.

    The CPS proposes providing READ 180 for 8,600 students or only 34.6% of students in grades 6-8 needing intervention. That seems very problematic. Moreover, we need to realize that while at the elementary school level students with disabilities form 12.06% of the population, they form 35.7% of the below standards readers in grades 6-8. For CPS to implement READ 180 for all struggling readers in grades 6-8 would cost in the range of $24.8 million to $37.2 million using the Carnegie Corporation cost factoring per student approach.

    Using this data we can see that CPS in order to get an average gain of up to two years per student for whom a READ 180 is applied as the press release stated it is impossible that in the 80 schools the special education struggling readers will be fully included. Since on average they form 36% of the below standard readers and Scholastic Inc in its own literature clearly indicates an optimal gain of around six months for one year's READ 180 instruction for students with IEPs.

    The U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Science (IES) in its independent review of READ 180 for its effect on all students in studies it considers to meet its standards appears to predict significantly less than an increase of up to two years per student.

    IES uses what it calls an improvement index for measuring the effectiveness of READ 180. Teachers and other blog readers can go to http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/references/iDocViewer/Doc.aspx?docId=19&tocId=12 to get a better understanding of this improvement approach. The improvement index can be interpreted as the expected change in percentile rank for an average comparison group student if the student had received the intervention.

    As an example, if an intervention produced a positive impact on students

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Thanks for this information, Rod.

    In all honesty, teacher with decent prep time and good resources (RARE in the CPS system), are capable of providing reading support for struggling students. Instead of creating an environment conducive to collaboration and intensive preparation, CPS throws money at programs that may or may not be helpful but are CERTAINLY ineffective without teacher coaching and prep.

    My principal seems to acquire a new grants, and expensive materials every week...hasn't changed a thing, though. Kids are still not getting what they need.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod,thanks for the data. Too bad you left CPS. I remember you only because you were one of the few people in CPS who advocated for the children. There used to be competent people in OSS but they left for greener fields.

    Why are the CAOS coming into elementary schools schools screeching that all of the children with disabilities should not be in one classroom? When it is explained to them that this is how OSS wants it because it saves monies on positions they say" oh it is for your convenience not the children's"

    Obviously, OSS and the new CAOS have not have a meeting. Yes, we know it would be much better not to have ten special education students in one classroom but where are the positions? We have CAO minions running amok in the schools and sadly they are no help. We need to hire more special education teachers so that the inclusion caseloads can be lowered and teachers will actuallly be able to pull children out of gen ed rooms instead of serving as the prep teachers/disciplinarians.

    We are unable to follow our Education Connection Plans due to these position cuts and not a peep is heard from the Corey H. monitor. Didn't CPS spend $110,000 a school to implement these plans? Specialized services in CPS is a sham.

  • In reply to EdMentor:

    Sure, 8:02, I think they were very valid. No criticism other than noting a generation difference.

  • In reply to teacherlady:

    Ok. I understand now. Thanks.

  • In reply to EdMentor:

    And 8:02,

    I think some of it has to do with the material (very contemporary) and the use of technology. While, my mentor is a 68 year old teacher who has taught me everything that I know about technology implementation in the classroom, this is not the case for some of the teachers I speak of---they are a bit computer phobic.

  • How many schools don't have a reading specialist or computers? The devil is in the details. Details are something that CPS top administrators don't take into consideration. Sounds like your the exception!

  • Sounds like you've had a very positive experience and it's good to hear from someone that's gone through it. But please understand that you have resources a great many CPS schools are lacking. For instance - there are tons of schools with classrooms that have 35 students per class and/or insufficient computer access. How well do you think the program might work under those types of conditions, and especially with both of those variables thrown in the mix?

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    exactly! Thank you. My school has none of those resources.

  • great comments, everyone -- so interesting to hear how it's working (or not) at your schools.

    this may not be directly related, but a group of ministers and community groups is protesting cuts in after school tutoring.

    is the district making the call that in-school R180 is a better investment than after school tutoring? do you agree?


  • My understanding from looking at Scholastic materials is that the optimal class size for implementing READ 180 is 15 not 20. As far as I can see reports on average gains made by students were based on implementation at the level of 15 students in a 90 minute block of time every day.

    judgejury81 wrote:"My students gained at least one or two reading levels last year after only using the program for a couple of months." I assume from this statement your class had administered to it the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) which uses a Lexile scale. The design of the SRI implies that reading comprehension is a unidimensional construct on which students and texts can be appropriately matched. Comprehension is operationalized as the ability to complete a main idea statement at the conclusion of a short passage. The SRI does not assess content area reading skills, although it includes a mixture of expository and narrative passages.

    Teachers do need to understand that the Lexile scale does not convert to grade equivalents which are based on the performance of students in the test's norming group. The Lexile scale is a developmental scale for reading ranging from 200L for beginning readers to above 1700L for advanced text. All Lexile Framework products, tools and services rely on the Lexile measure and scale to match reader and text.

    Lexile measures are based on two predictors of how difficult a text is to comprehend: semantic difficulty (word frequency) and syntactic complexity (sentence length). In order to Lexile a book or article, text is split into 125-word slices. Each slice is compared to the 5,088,721 word Lexile corpus

  • I never claimed judgejury81 equated reading levels with grade levels in the post, but reading what I wrote I can understand why judgejury81 believed that to be the case. But contextually how does a classroom teacher know what two levels mean on the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) in relation to major issues such as retention due to CPS promotion policies or whether or not a teacher will recieve a raise based on classroom performance, if that practice becomes the norm in Chicago as both Mr. Huberman and Duncan would like to see.

    I do not think teachers have to have taken a full graduate course sequence in tests and measurements to grasp what I am trying to explain. Effectively some increases in Lexile scores may or may not mean much in relation to ISAT and the SAT10/Abb included in the ISAT which rules part of the promotion policy of CPS.

    judgejury81 writes: "So, when the kids see themselves moving up-they think they can! That is more important to me than arguing the merits of using a graded lexile scale. As long at it gives us some sort of guide, I say run with it."

    I have seen similar thinking in relation to students with learning disabilities in many CPS schools. The students and their families are told that they are making progress based on reading inventories for years running and in many cases are given reasonably good grades. Then a CPS school pyschologist uses a normed individualized reading assessment for the student's triannual assessment and the parents discover despite the documented progress based on the Lexile scale or other scoring systems the student can not possibly get into a CPS selective high school or likely get an ACT score higher than 12 to 14 by grade 11. The CPS school psychologist often will indicate to the family that their child is making expected progress based on overall intelligence and the learning disability. Then the parents are on the phone calling me wanting to file a due process case against the school district for failing to appropriately educate the student.

    While progress is a good thing it has to be seen in a context of a base line for measurement. Parents of struggling readers do not need to be demoralized by teachers, but they do need to be informed relative to other students who their child must compete with for jobs, college admissions, etc, where their child is at.

    I abhor the existing CPS promotion policy based on high stakes testing, but teachers, students, and parents are stuck in that environment. So teachers should be able to interpret READ 180 improvment measurements in a manner that will show on a real time basis where the student will likely be relative to an ISAT score or the SAT10/Abb come test time. As far as I can tell using the Scholastic package for READ 180 does not do that.

    Having said all of this I agree with judgejury81 that READ 180 has positive effects for struggling readers including those with disabilities.

    Rod Estvan

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