California’s Modesto City Schools started using Scholastic’s Read 180 program last school year to bring up the achievement of students reading below grade level–and after this initial pilot year, the average grade-level gain by students was a year or two higher, reports the Modesto Bee. Eduardo Garcia was never a lover of books, and his reading ability reflected that: He entered high school at a second-grade reading level. A year after using Read 180 at Johansen High School, the 15-year-old climbed to the fifth-grade level. And the best part is, he now enjoys reading. "I’m reading more since I’ve been in this class," Garcia said. "I like action and mysteries." A Read 180 class is the equivalent of two class periods, about two hours; the maximum class is 21 students. Divided into three groups, students rotate time with the teacher, reading along with an audio CD and computer work. They have access to several paperbacks and use workbooks for assignments and homework. But the computer program is the favorite among most students. It tailors instruction to individual students, tracks their progress, and provides immediate feedback. In 2007-08, Read 180 was piloted at three high schools with 140 students. This school year, the program has been expanded to 560 students in all Modesto high schools. District officials didn’t have the full cost of the Read 180 program, which includes buying extra computers, headphones, books, computer program licenses, and teacher training. Johansen High School Principal Thor Harrison said Read 180 is expensive, but the demonstrated success of students far outweighs the cost…

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