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Developing an instructional app to expand the HillRAP reading intervention’s impact to more students


The Hill Center is an educational non-profit that serves K-12 students who are struggling academically, especially those with learning differences, through its school year, summer, tutoring, and teacher training programs. Its grant supports the development of the Hill Learning System, a technology solution for delivering Hill’s individualized reading intervention to students, and providing educators with the learning pathways, online courses, and resources they need to successfully teach students who learn differently.

“I started a 2nd grade student using the Hill Learning System this year. He came to us with major learning difficulties…early this week he celebrated reading his first words. On Friday, I had him read a short story to me. He jumped up shouting ‘I read a book! I read a book! That's the 1st book I've ever read!”

– Kerry Anne Garcia, Exceptional Children Teacher, Mooresville Graded School District



The Hill Center, based in Durham, North Carolina, is on a mission to transform students with learning differences into confident, independent learners. It offers a unique, half-day programme during the school year to students in grades K-12 who have specific learning differences, including learning disabilities or attention deficit disorders.  More than 170 students from approximately 67 base schools are enrolled at The Hill Center for three hours of intensive reading, writing, and math remediation each day, attending the remainder of the school day in local public, private, or home schools. The Hill Center also offers summer and tutoring programs, delivering powerful learning experiences for a broader range of students based on practices and lessons learned in the school program. Based on its success with students, Hill has codified and packaged its research-based reading intervention, the Hill Reading Achievement Program (HillRAP), into a curriculum that educators in other settings can use to reach struggling learners. Hill supports HillRAP delivery, and trains teachers in a range of strategies to address specific students’ skills and learning gaps, through internationally-accredited teacher professional development.



With Oak’s support, the Hill Center has converted its HillRAP methodology into a technology-enabled solution for teachers and students known as the Hill Learning System (HLS). HLS includes a web-enabled, tablet-based, instructional app that is supported by a blended learning teacher training and support platform and automated data tracking and reporting for students, teachers, and administrators. Past studies led by researchers at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington have demonstrated that students from diverse populations who participate in HillRAP exhibit significant academic growth. HillRAP delivery via HLS is currently being piloted in eight NC school districts and several individual schools. Early indicators suggest that HLS increases HillRAP efficiency and effectiveness, empowers and engages teachers and students with formative data and demonstrated progress to goals, and should ultimately support a more scalable model for HillRAP.





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