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




  • Just 53% of North Carolina 8th graders read on grade level, and only 45% are proficient in math.

  • In Carteret County Public Schools in North Carolina, 3rd grade students using the Hill Learning System showed an average of 1.5 years’ growth on NC End of Grade tests in reading.




For information about this grant, please visit our Grant Database.





1.  Strengthen teacher capacity





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In the media



Contact person for Oak LDP grant

Name: Beth Anderson
Position: Executive Director
Email: banderson@hillcenter.org



Website & social media


What have you accomplished through your Oak-funded programme that you’re most proud to share with your colleagues?


In the Hill Learning System (HLS), we’ve created an instructional tool and educator development platform that are empowering and high-impact for both teachers and students. Students can immediately see their own growth in the instructional app and feel more motivated and confident; teachers have a tool that helps them individualize instruction for each student, and they feel supported in their own growth as educators. Notably, students receiving HillRAP via the HLS grew one Text Reading Comprehension level more, on average, than their peers receiving the paper-pencil version of the intervention.



What’s the most interesting challenge your Oak-funded programme currently faces?


Despite enthusiastic response and demonstrated learning by both teachers and students, promoting widespread adoption of HillRAP via HLS is still challenging due to its requirements: a 4-students-to-1-teacher ratio, a minimum of 3 days per week of consistent implementation, and intensive training and support. This is especially true in schools without extended day schedules or dedicated intervention blocks and/or insufficient interventionists to meet the individual needs of students. While Hill remains committed to training teachers in public schools, we also believe the greatest opportunities for impact and growth may lie in spreading HLS through programs that provide supplemental capacity and supports to schools, in partnership with other LD schools, and in out-of-school contexts where consistent small group reading instruction is viable.





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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