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Literacy skills are critical to understanding information presented in written or oral format and communicating effectively with others. These skills are important to students’ success in school and later in life, including improved individual health and economic outcomes, increased civic engagement, and enhanced community well-being.

This review focuses on literacy interventions designed for use with students in grades 4–12, with a primary focus on increasing English language reading or writing skills. The following research questions guide this review:

  • Among interventions intended to provide literacy instruction, which ones improve literacy skills (alphabetics, reading fluency, comprehension, writing, and general literacy achievement) among students in grades 4–12?
  • Are some interventions more effective than others for developing certain types of literacy skills?
  • Are some interventions more effective for certain types of students or when delivered in certain types of settings?

Protocol Details

  • Version: 4.0
  • Released: December 2018
  • Version: 3.0
  • Released: September 2014
  • Version: 2.1
  • Released: August 2012
  • Version: 2.0
  • Released: April 2010
  • Version: 1.0
  • Released: June 2009

What is a Protocol?

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) uses the Study Review Protocol to review all studies, including those cited as evidence for U.S. Department of Education grant competitions, studies that were funded by the Department, and studies identified for systematic reviews of evidence based on a search of the research literature in a particular topic area. As articulated in the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook, Version 5.0, when the Study Review Protocol is used to review studies for systematic reviews, an accompanying topic area synthesis protocol will provide criteria for the literature search; guidance on how to identify and prioritize relevant studies for review and inclusion in evidence synthesis products; and guidance on intervention, sample, and outcome eligibility criteria for the synthesis.

The Study Review Protocol is used in combination with the WWC Handbook to guide the review of all studies by the WWC. In particular, the Study Review Protocol provides additional information on eligible outcome domains for all topic areas reviewed by the WWC and provides examples of outcome measures that fall within each domain. Starting in January 2021 with the release of the Study Review Protocol, Version 1.0, the WWC publishes an updated version of the Study Review Protocol to align with an updated version of the WWC Handbook. The current version of this protocol, the Study Review Protocol, Version 5.0, was published in March 2023 to accompany the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook, Version 5.0.

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