The study took place in seventh and eighth grade science, social studies, and English language arts classrooms across 40 public middle schools in 8 school districts located in California, New York, Texas, and Wisconsin.
The researchers randomly assigned 19 schools to the intervention group and 21 schools to the comparison group. The study took place over two school years. In the second year of the study, a total of 6,889 students in grades seven and eight were included in the study. Twenty-eight percent of students were White, 12% were Black, 9% were Asian, and 52% did not report race. Fifty percent were Hispanic. Over half (55%) of the students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and nearly half (48%) were female. Moreover, 14% of students were English learners and 12% received special education services.
Teachers in the intervention schools received a professional development program called Reading Apprenticeship Across the Disciplines (RAAD) in the summer prior to the first year of the study, and ongoing supports throughout the two-year study period. RAAD, designed to be a less time-intensive version of Reading Apprenticeship®, is intended to help teacher improve students’ literacy skills that are needed in core subjects, such as English, mathematics, science, or social studies. RAAD professional development was offered as a 3-day training in the summer before the start of the school year. In this training, teachers learn about the Reading Apprenticeship® model and how to help build student capacity through metacognitive conversations to develop reasoning processes and strategies to make meaning of text in a subject area. During the school year, RAAD included monthly on-site team meetings facilitated by teacher leaders and monthly online professional learning community meetings. In addition, a 2-day Calibration Institute training was held in the winter of the first school year to model practices and help teachers apply these practices to their classrooms.
Teachers in middle schools assigned to the comparison condition did not receive RAAD professional development until after the study had concluded. Comparison teachers may have participated in other business-as-usual training and professional development offered by their schools or school districts.
Support for implementation
The developer, WestEd’s Strategic Learning Initiative, offered Reading Apprenticeship® professional learning to between three and eight teachers per school. The professional development drew from WestEd’s collection of curriculum examples, lesson models, support materials, classroom videos, and assessments. Teachers who left the study were replaced by the new teacher in the same classroom. Replacement teachers were offered face-to-face training and catch-up work to familiarize themselves with the intervention. As part of the intervention, the developer identified a regional partner in each participating state to support implementation and build local capacity to sustain the work. These regional partners recruited new schools to participate in RAAD professional development, connected RAAD professional development with other local reform initiatives, and facilitated the project. The regional partners were typically from regional education service agencies, state education service agencies, district offices, or county offices, and they met monthly with program administrators.