Reference Resource Handbooks and Other Resources

The WWC Handbooks provide a detailed description of the standards and procedures of the WWC. Version 4.0 of the Handbooks contain the standards currently in use by the WWC for reviewing studies. Some reviews may continue to be conducted using the Version 3.0 Procedures and Standards Handbook.

Current Standards Version 4.0, October 2017

WWC Version 4.0 Standards Handbook (3.1 MB)

WWC Version 4.0 Procedures Handbook (800 KB)

Summary of changes (96 KB) between the Procedures and Standards Handbook Version 3.0 and 4.0

Response to Comments from the Public on Updated WWC Procedures and Standards (413 KB)

Key Criteria Used in WWC Reviews of Single-Case Design Research

Reviewer Guidance for Use with the Standards and Procedure Handbook

All previous versions of the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook are available for download.

Prior Standards


A review protocol defines the scope of a systematic review. Developed with substantive experts, the protocol defines the parameters for the review, including the research, populations, settings, and outcomes. The protocol also specifies details of the literature search and any topic-specific applications of the design standards.

Protocol versions reflect the version of WWC standards in effect when the protocol was released. Protocol versions that predate the current version of the WWC standards handbook can be used to identify acceptable outcome domains for review within a given topic. The current WWC standards are used to guide the review of studies with acceptable outcomes.

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Topic area reviews studies on interventions for students in grades 4–12, ages 9–18, that are intended to increase literacy skills in alphabetics, reading fluency, comprehension, or literacy achievement.
September 2014

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This protocol guided the review of research that informed the recommendations contained in the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for Elementary and Middle Schools...
April 2009

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Topic area reviews studies on reading interventions for students in grades K–3, ages 5–8, that are intended to increase skills in alphabetics, reading fluency, comprehension, or general reading achievement.
September 2014

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Topic area reviews studies on programs designed for use in elementary, middle, or high schools for positive character development, prosocial behavior, and academic performance.
September 2006

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This review-specific protocol guides the review of research that informs the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Charter Schools Topic Area.
January 2018

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This review-specific protocol guides the review of research that informs the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) intervention reports in the Children and Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder topic area.
August 2015

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This review focuses on school-based interventions designed for use with children and students ages 0–21 with intellectual disability (ID). The review will examine the effect of interventions on the following types of outcomes: academic, communication...
August 2017

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Topic area reviews studies on programs designed to meet the academic, behavioral, social, and emotional needs of K–12 students with an emotional disturbance or at risk.
December 2015

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This protocol guided the review of research that informed the recommendations contained in the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide Developing Effective Fractions Instruction for Kindergarten Through 8th Grade...
September 2010

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This protocol guides the review of research that informs What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) reviews in the area of interventions for developmental students in postsecondary education. The review-specific protocol is used in conjunction with the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbook (Version 3.0)...
October 2015

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Topic area reviews studies on middle school, junior high school, and high school programs, community–based interventions designed to help students stay in school, progress in school, complete school.
March 2014

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Topic area reviews studies on programs designed for three– to five–year–old children who are not yet in kindergarten or are in preschool, focus on cognitive and language competencies, school readiness (cognition, language, literacy,...
January 2014

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Topic area reviews focus on interventions that have a primary focus on outcomes associated with the school readiness of children with disabilities.
April 2010

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Topic area reviews studies on mathematics interventions for elementary school students in grades K–5.
March 2012

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This protocol guided the review of research that informed the recommendations contained in the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide Teaching Elementary School Students to Be Effective Writers.
September 2013

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Topic area reviews studies on programs designed to improve the English language literacy and/or academic achievement of elementary and middle school students in grades K–8 who have limited English proficiency.
January 2013

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This review focuses on interventions or practices designed to help children in kindergarten through third grade learn to develop skills that are considered foundational to developing solid reading abilities.
July 2016

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This protocol guided the review of research that informed the recommendations contained in the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide Helping Students Navigate the Path to College: What High Schools Can Do...
September 2009

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Topic area reviews studies on mathematics interventions for high school students, grades 9–12, that are intended to increase skills in pre–algebra, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, pre–calculus, and calculus.
May 2010

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This protocol guided the review of research that informed the recommendations contained in the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade...
September 2010

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This protocol guided the review of research that informed the recommendations contained in the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide Improving Mathematical Problem Solving in Grades 4 through 8...
November 2012

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Topic area reviews studies on curriculum–based math interventions for middle school students in grades 6–9 that are designed to increase mathematics achievement.
April 2012

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This protocol guided the review of research that informed the recommendations contained in the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide Preventing Dropout in Secondary Schools.
September 2017

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The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) review in this topic area focuses on preventive interventions for middle, high school, and postsecondary students that aim to improve mental health and well-being and reduce externalizing problems, internalizing pro...
July 2016

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This review-specific protocol guides the review of research that informs the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) intervention reports in the Primary Mathematics (PM) topic area. The review-specific protocol is used in conjunction with the WWC Procedures a...
June 2015

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Publications designed to provide timely and objective assessments of the quality of the research evidence from recently released research papers and reports.
August 2012

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This review protocol guides the review of studies that do not fall under the umbrella of a more specific review protocol. It should be used for the review of studies that were not identified through a literature search defined by another protocol (e....
May 2016

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This What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) review focuses on science interventions designed to impact student achievement, including curriculum-based interventions, instructional techniques, and products designed to deliver content and monitor student progr...
February 2012

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This review-specific protocol guides the review of research that informs the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) intervention reports in the Secondary Mathematics topic area. The review-specific protocol is used in conjunction with the WWC Procedures and ...
June 2015

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This protocol guided the review of research that informed the recommendations contained in the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide Strategies for Postsecondary Students in Developmental Education, published in November 2016.
November 2016

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This protocol guided the review of research that informed the recommendations contained in the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide Structuring Out-of-School Time to Improve Academic Achievement...
July 2009

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This review focuses on interventions designed for use in a school-based setting with students in grades K through 12 (generally aged 5 to 18) with a learning disability.
February 2017

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This protocol guides the review of research that informs What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) reports in the area of Supporting Postsecondary Success. This area focuses on interventions for postsecondary students that aim to support postsecondary success, ...
July 2016

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Topic area focuses on interventions aimed at making teachers more effective at improving the academic achievement of students in grades PK–12.
July 2016

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This protocol guided the review of research that informed the recommendations contained in the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) updated English learner practice guide, Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle ...
April 2014

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This protocol guided the review of research that informed the recommendations contained in the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide Teaching Math to Young Children.
November 2013

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This protocol guided the review of research that informed the recommendations contained in the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively, published in November 2016.
November 2016

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This protocol guided the review of research that informed the recommendations contained in the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide Teaching Strategies for Improving Algebra Knowledge in Middle and High School Students...
March 2014

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Topic area focuses on interventions for middle school, high school, and postsecondary students that aim to promote successful transitions into postsecondary education, with a primary focus on increasing postsecondary enrollment and retaining students...
June 2016

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This protocol guided the review of research that informed the recommendations contained in the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide Using Student Achievement Data to Support Instructional Decision Making...
September 2009


The WWC provides additional resources for understanding the WWC standards and procedures. Listed below are documents and webinars to help researchers, policymakers, and practitioners learn more about the standards and procedures the WWC uses in its work.

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