The study took place in five middle schools in the Baltimore City Public School System. The
study school population was predominantly minority students (approximately 80%), and
approximately 67% of students in the study schools received free or reduced-price lunch.
This study is a quasi-experiment conducted in five urban middle schools. Two treatment
schools volunteered to implement the intervention, and three schools, matched on academic
achievement in reading and language arts on the California Achievement Test, served as
comparison schools. The author also matched the schools on ethnicity and socioeconomic
background. Participants were sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students. The study’s
analytic sample included 1,798 students in 72 treatment classrooms and 2,188 students in 88
The study reported students’ outcomes after nine months of Student Team Reading and Writing
implementation. The intervention components included (1) cooperative learning classroom
processes; (2) a literature anthology for high-interest reading material; (3) explicit instruction
in reading comprehension; (4) integrated reading, writing, and language arts instruction; and
(5) a writing process approach to language arts. The reading part of the program consisted of
three elements: (1) literature-related activities, (2) direct instruction in reading comprehension
strategies, and (3) selection-related writing. In all of these activities, students worked in heterogeneous
learning teams. All activities followed a regular cycle that involved teacher presentation,
team practice, independent practice, peer pre-assessment, and individual accountability.
Cooperative learning teams were used in instructional activities on a daily basis.
The teachers in the comparison schools used traditional instructional methods. Students
went to different teachers for reading and English. The reading teachers used a basal reading
series and related materials (e.g., workbooks). The English teachers used an English literature
anthology for their literature component and an English grammar textbook for the language
arts component. The comparison teachers did not use cooperative learning processes in their
For both the pretest and posttest, students took the California Achievement Test (CAT). Four
subtests were used in the study: (1) Reading Vocabulary, (2) Reading Comprehension, (3) Language
Mechanics, and (4) Language Expression. The pretests were given the spring before the
study began; the posttests were given the following May near the end of the study. For a more
detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B.
Support for implementation
The teachers in the treatment schools were trained in Student Team Reading and Writing during
their summer vacation for five half-day (three-hour) sessions during one week. The training
consisted of an explanation of the processes and the rationale behind them. During the training,
teachers participated in a simulation of major components of the program. The teachers
also were given a detailed manual that described each of the components. During the first
three months of implementation, the researchers observed and gave feedback to the teachers
as they implemented the program. They also met with teachers during and after school, often
attending meetings of the reading and language arts department. At these meetings, teachers’
questions and problems were discussed in order to resolve any problems they were having
and to use their feedback to improve the program.