This study took place in 137 elementary and middle schools in a large urban school district on the West Coast of the United States with students in grades 4 through 8. The study included English language arts, social studies, and science classrooms in the middle schools.
The 7,958 students in elementary and middle schools—3,979 in each condition—were taught by 89 teachers in 26 schools in the intervention group and 1,015 teachers in 111 schools in the comparison group. The sample breakdown between elementary and middle schools is not described. Approximately half the students were male, 69% were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, 19% were English learners, and 8% were eligible for special education. Ninety-one percent of the students were Hispanic or Latino, 4% were non-Hispanic Black, 3% were non-Hispanic White, and 1% were non-Hispanic Asian.
Literacy Design Collaborative aims to help teachers improve their effectiveness in the classroom with a focus on supporting their literacy instruction. Literacy Design Collaborative provides professional development, coaching, and resources to support teachers to work collaboratively in their schools to create and use high-quality literacy instruction materials aimed at improving students’ reading, research, and writing skills. Teachers across content areas—including English language arts, social studies, and science—can use the Literacy Design Collaborative program.
Intervention group schools began implementing Literacy Design Collaborative in the first cohort in the 2016–17 school year. A second cohort of schools participated starting in the 2017–18 school year. Participating teachers were expected to develop at least one instructional module aligned with English language arts standards to use in their classroom in the school year, provide instruction using at least two modules per year, and participate in at least 60 minutes of planning time in a professional learning community every 2 weeks. In addition, participating teachers were expected to receive feedback and support from a Literacy Design Collaborative coach remotely during learning community time, and through peer review comments on their instructional modules through the online CoreTools library. The authors do not describe the implementation experience of the sample of teachers in this study.
Students in the comparison group were taught by teachers who did not participate in Literacy Design Collaborative. Comparison teachers may have participated in other business-as-usual training and professional development offered by their schools or school districts.
Support for implementation
Coaches worked directly with one or more teacher-leaders trained in each school to support implementation. Coaches and teacher-leaders worked together to structure learning community time and coaching support for other teachers in their schools. Literacy Design Collaborative staff also trained school administrators and district instructional specialists to support implementation, observe classroom instruction, and attend learning community sessions.