When viewed relative to state gains, Highland reading scores are still impressive for a high-poverty school. (It is not clear that Highland is as high-poverty as Renaissance says it is. Renaissance claimed that 94% of Highland students had free or reduced price lunch. The Highland website indicates that between 44% and 86% receive free or reduced lunch, depending on the grade.)
The scores are, however, not as spectacular as they seemed before. They remain below the state average, but grades 4 and 5 show some signs of improving relative to state-wide scores. Grade 3, however, does not. Unfortunately, I could not find pre-AR scores for Highland and the State of North Carolina.
Renaissance Report 53: St. Monica
AR was introduced at the St. Monica school in 1998. It is claimed that AR resulted in a spectacular increase in reading scores. The report noted that "in 1998, average reading scores of fourth- and fifth-graders were far below the national norm ... by 2001 ... fourth and fifth graders demonstrated significantly improved reading ability that is well over the national norm. Over this period, third-grade test scores increased 9 percentile points, while fourth- and fifth-grade scores improved 40 and 41 percentile points, respectively."
These do indeed appear to be huge increases (table 5).
Table 5: ITBS: Total Reading Score at St. Monica
From: Ren. Report 53
1998 = "pretest" (before AR implemented)
There are a few small blemishes. A look at the progress of cohorts of students (table 6) shows that from 1998 to 1999, one class of students got worse, scoring at 38 in grade 3 and declining to 29 in grade 4. They then, however, recovered nicely to 46 in grade 5.
Table 6: St. Monica scores: Cohort analysis
St. Monica includes K-6. One wonders why a wider range of scores was not presented. Also, it would have been helpful to have 1997 scores as well. A problem with cohort analysis in this school is the high mobility rate (34%).
Despite these flaws, the scores at St. Monica are high, especially considering that students at this school are largely inner-city and high poverty (88% free or reduced lunch).
Renaissance Monograph: The Idaho Study
This monograph contains three evaluations, one for each year of AR, in Idaho. Student progress was measured with the Renaissance STAR test. The first evaluation (1998-99) was based on about 13,000 children from 50 schools in Idaho, grades 1-9. Those who did AR gained 1.84 NCE's. Those in schools in which more teachers attended AR training made better gains. The second evaluation (1999-2000) produced similar results. It was based on slightly under 8000 students, grades 1-9, from 37 schools. The average gain was three NCE's. Again, there was a relationship between gains and whether the teachers had AR training. About a thousand students were tracked for both years; they gained six NCE's over the two years.