Date of Conferral

1-1-2009

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Education

Advisor

Richard Shepard

Abstract

In response to its failure to meet state mandated proficiency standards in reading and mathematics over the past three years, a rural, Title I high school (LS) in South Carolina purchased and implemented the commercially available literacy program READ 180 (R180) for the 2008-2009 academic year. While previous research reported by Scholastic, Incorporated (R180) had provided support for the use of R180 in improving literacy, these studies have been criticized recently for their lack of comparable control groups, experimenter bias and lack of data from other content areas such as mathematics. The purpose of this study was to determine the relative effectiveness of R180 in improving reading and math performance when compared with traditional high school English course instruction in a group of ninth grade students at LS. The theoretical framework for this study was based on Vygotsky's cognitive developmental theory which emphasizes the role of language in learning in all content areas. A group of below average reading ability students was assigned by LS to the R180 instructional class while a second group of average ability students was assigned to the traditional English course (TRAD). Both groups were pre and post tested in reading and math using the state-sponsored Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) standardized achievement test. Dependent samples t-tests and Analysis of Covariance were used to analyze the data. The results indicated statistically significant improvements in both math and reading scores for the TRAD group but not for the R180 group. This study has implications for positive social change in the form of independent, empirically-based data to both inform the administration of LS in future decision making regarding funding for the very costly R180 program as well as contributing to the overall database on R180's effectiveness.