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15 Student Heroes Honored For Remarkable Reading and Math Gains

BOSTON, MA – Global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) today announced the 15 winners  of the national 2016 180 Student Awards, which recognize students who have made tremendous gains in their reading and math achievement using READ 180, MATH 180 and System 44, intervention programs that use adaptive technology to personalize instruction for students and accelerate growth. Each of this year’s winners has excelled in their respective programs, overcoming significant obstacles to attain reading and math proficiency and turning their academic careers around.

“Our winners range in age, background and location, but they share many of the challenges faced by students across the country when it comes to achieving academic success,” said Margery Mayer, EVP, Intervention Solutions at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “Their determination to succeed in the face of often overwhelming obstacles – what researchers call ‘grit’ – and the support and dedication of their teachers serve as great models as we look to help our students learn, grow, and take on new challenges both in and beyond the classroom.”

The 180 Student Award winners were selected based on teacher recommendations, student statements and data demonstrating reading or math growth according to Lexile™ or Quantile™ frameworks respectively, validated measures used across the country to measure student progress. Each winner will each receive a $1,000 prize to be used towards furthering her or his education, while the student’s school district will receive $1,000 worth of HMH educational materials for use in classrooms.

The 2016 180 Student Award winners are:

For READ 180:

  • Jocelyn Contreras, Grade 4, Age 11, LaBelle Elementary School, Marietta, Georgia
    • Jocelyn is the oldest of five children and lives in a home where English is not spoken. Despite this challenge, Jocelyn has grown her English language skills, increasing her Lexile scores by 616 points. According to her teacher, she “never gives up” and wants to go to college to become a doctor.
  • Alexie Evan, Grade 7, Age 13, Rocky Mountain School, Goodnews Bay, Alaska
    • Alexie suffered from hearing difficulties that delayed his language skills and required surgery to resolve. He lives in a remote village and has overcome significant challenges to achieve Lexile growth of 388 points. He has independently read over 2 million words this school year alone.
  • Carlos Gallegos, Grade 9, Age 15, Mission Achievement and Success Charter School, Albuquerque, New Mexico
    • Carlos faced inherent struggles as an English-language student who also had a learning disability, but his determination and positive attitude has resulted in incredible academic gains with Lexile growth of 966 points, as well as a newfound love of art and music.
  • Kaylynn Jones, Grade 6, Age 11, Temperance-Kutner Elementary School, Fresno, Calif.
    • Kaylynn has managed to completely exceed her predicted growth, increasing her Lexile scores by 342 points. Referred to as a “success story” by her teachers, Kaylynn’s newfound academic success has enabled her to become an active leader on campus; she is now a part of the student government, choir and numerous sports teams.
  • Borum Long, Grade 12, Age 18, Grace M. Davis High School, Modesto, Calif.
    • After enduring great hardship as a result of the Cambodian Civil War, Borum enrolled at the Davis High School Language Institute in 2012 as the only native Khmer speaker. Since then, he has achieved incredible linguistic and academic success, using READ 180 to help increase his Lexile scores by 730 points and gain a 3.91 GPA, giving him a bridge to college. He has recently been accepted to three universities.
  • Zackary Mills, Grade 10, Age 16, West Feliciana High School, St. Francisville, Louisiana
    • According to Zachary’s teachers, the READ 180 program has given him a great deal of confidence that has boosted his academic abilities in and out of the classroom. His mindset toward reading has completely shifted and as a result, he has increased his Lexile scores by 505 points.  
  • Julio Sanchez, Grade 8, Age 13, Wilson Middle School, Yakima, Wash.
    • When Julio began the READ 180 program, he had one of the lowest Lexile scores in the class. Over time, his scores continued to increase, resulting in a 697 point Lexile growth. Julio has inspired his own family to become passionate readers and is also an ongoing source of inspiration among his classmates due to his determination to overcome academic challenges.
  • Laura Uccellini, Grade 8, Age 14, William Davies Middle School, Mays Landing, NJ
    • Laura’s confidence has grown with each Lexile gain, and overall, her scores have increased by an outstanding 913 points. As a result of Laura’s willingness to work hard and growing confidence, she has been accepted into the local high school’s magnet program.
  • Kaleb Watson, Grade 4, Age 10, Summit View Academy, Independence, Kentucky
    • Kaleb’s teachers believe that the confidence that he has gained from being in the READ 180 classroom is going to continue to help him grow as a reader and a lifelong learner. Armed with his new reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension, Kaleb is also happy to pay it forward by helping his little sister learn to read. Kaleb has increased his Lexile score by 301 points.

For MATH 180:

  • Mikaela Delgado, Grade 8, Age 13, Roosevelt Junior High, Modesto, Calif.
    • Mikaela has historically struggled with math but in the past year, she has increased her Quantile score by 360 points. Her hard work has led to a growing ability to solve complex math problems and her teachers describe her as the epitome of a growth mindset and someone who supports and encourages her classmates in every way.
  • Gadge Lum, Grade 7, Age 13, Gillette Road Middle School, Cicero, New York
    • Gadge has faced many obstacles that make school difficult for him but always comes to class with a smile. His perseverance has resulted in his increasing his Quantile scores by 580 points using MATH 180, helping him gain the confidence to realize that he has the ability to make his academic dreams come true.
  • Dennise Sieh, Grade 8, Age 13, Discovery Middle School, Fargo, North Dakota
    • Dennise emigrated with her family from Liberia and has overcome many personal difficulties, including the tragic death of her father. She has worked hard to catch up to grade level and has increased her Quantile score by 350 points.

For System 44:

  • Brianna Boodman, Grade 5, Age 11, Cole Canyon Elementary School, Murrieta, Calif.
    • Brianna used to say she “can’t read” but today she says she “can read.” Her family and teachers have been inspired by watching her confidence blossom along with her reading skills. She has increased her Lexile score by 573 points.  
  • Kalia Lee, Grade 5, Age 11, Temperance-Kutner Elementary School, Fresno, Calif.
    • Kalia is soft spoken but there is “a powerful amount of strength behind her quiet exterior.” An English Language Learner, Kalia has increased her Lexile score by 355 points. She continues to demonstrate focus, perseverance and hard work both in and out of the classroom, where she stays on top of her school work while also helping to care for her four younger siblings.   
  • Jaeden Rivera, Grade 6, Age 12, Carteret Middle School, Carteret, NJ
    • Jaeden has approached his reading challenges with a positive and upbeat attitude. His confidence has increased and he shares his success, becoming the “go-to guy” among his peers when it comes to reading help. Jaeden has increased his Lexile score by 210 points.  


About Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (NASDAQ:HMHC) is a global learning company dedicated to changing people’s lives by fostering passionate, curious learners. As a leading provider of pre-K–12 education content, services, and cutting-edge technology solutions across a variety of media, HMH enables learning in a changing landscape. HMH is uniquely positioned to create engaging and effective educational content and experiences from early childhood to beyond the classroom.  HMH serves more than 50 million students in over 150 countries worldwide, while its award-winning children’s books, novels, non-fiction, and reference titles are enjoyed by readers throughout the world. For more information, visit www.hmhco.com.

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