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IES Grant

Title: The Read-Write Cycle: An Integrated Model for Instruction and Assessment of Reading Comprehension Through Reading and Writing in the Disciplines
Center: NCER Year: 2005
Principal Investigator: Calfee, Robert Awardee: University of California, Riverside
Program: Literacy      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $1,549,795
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305G050069

Co-Principal Investigator: Roxanne Miller, Chapman University

Purpose: Success in the 21st century requires competence in comprehending and communicating in academic disciplines such as the natural sciences, history, and geography. In upper elementary school, students are increasingly expected to master content knowledge independently, and yet we see that many students struggle with reading comprehension and the acquisition of knowledge from text. The purpose of this project is to create an effective and generalizable instructional method that teachers can implement across subject areas and grade levels for the improvement of students' reading comprehension, one that serves to broaden and deepen student knowledge of the content areas. At the conclusion of this project, this research team will have modified the Read-Write Cycle for use across several content areas, and will have data to support its potential effectiveness.

Setting: A public school district in southern California is the setting for this research study.

Population: Approximately 1,080 students in grades 3 through 6 are participating in this project. The student body of the participating district is ethnically diverse (55 percent Hispanic, 32 percent White), contains 24 percent of students classified as English language learners, and serves primarily low-income families (75 percent of students district-wide qualify for free or reduced-price lunch). In addition, 36 elementary school teachers are participating in this project.

Intervention: The intervention being studied in this project is the Read-Write Cycle, a comprehensive model for reading/writing instruction and assessment that was originally designed for use in science classes. In this project, the Read-Write Cycle is being developed for use across additional content areas.

Research Design and Methods: During the first year of this project, teachers receive professional development in the Read-Write Cycle. Content-area literacy curricula and assessment materials are also being developed in Year 1. In Years 2 and 3, experimental teachers are implementing the Read-Write Cycle techniques in their classrooms during content-area instruction. Twenty-four teachers are being randomly assigned to the experimental group, and twelve teachers are being assigned to the control group. All students participating in the research project in Year 2 are being followed into Year 3.

Control Condition: Control group teachers receive no training in the Read-Write Cycle and are continuing with their previous content-area instructional methods throughout the academic year.

Key Measures: Both standardized and researcher-developed measures of reading and writing outcomes are being collected. Both quantitative and qualitative measures are being used, and longitudinal case studies of 15 experimental teachers are being collected.

Data Analytic Strategy: Hierarchical linear modeling is being used to examine the effects of the treatment, and variation in effects as a function of student characteristics.

Project Website:


Book chapter

Calfee, R.C., and Miller, R.G. (2005). Breaking Ground: Constructing Authentic Reading-Writing Assessments for Middle and Secondary Students. In R. Indrisano, and J. Paratore (Eds.), Learning to Write, Writing to Learn: Theory and Research in Practice (pp. 203–219). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Calfee, R.C., and Miller, R.G. (2005). Comprehending Through Composing: Reflections on Reading Assessment Strategies. In S. Paris, and S. Stahl (Eds.), Children's Reading Comprehension and Assessment (pp. 215–233). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Calfee, R.C., and Miller, R.G. (2007). Best Practices in Writing Assessment. In S. Graham, C. Macarthur, and J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Best Practices in Writing Instruction (pp. 265–286). New York: Guilford Press.

Calfee, R.C., Miller, R.G., Norman, K.A., Wilson, K.M., and Trainin, G. (2006). Learning to do Educational Research. In R.J. Sternberg, and M. Constas (Eds.), Translating Theory and Research Into Educational Practice (pp. 77–104). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.