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ERIC Number: ED544200
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Aug
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
WWC Review of the Report “Improving Reading Comprehension and Social Studies Knowledge in Middle School.” What Works Clearinghouse Single Study Review
What Works Clearinghouse
The study reviewed in this paper examined the effects of the instructional practice “Promoting Acceleration of Comprehension and Content Through Text” (“PACT”), an approach that aims to improve social studies content knowledge and reading comprehension. This study took place in two middle schools in a near-urban district in Texas. Study authors conducted random assignment in two stages. First, eighth-grade students were randomly assigned to 27 social studies classes taught by five teachers. Then, each teacher’s classes were randomly assigned to either the intervention or comparison condition, such that each teacher taught intervention and comparison classrooms. A total of 16 classes were assigned to the intervention condition and 11 classes to the comparison condition--all of which were included in the analysis. The analysis sample contained 203 to 218 students in the intervention condition and 119 to 126 students in the comparison condition, depending on the outcome. In teachers’ intervention classrooms, they implemented the five components of “PACT” during three distinct 10-day text-based instructional units (Colonial America, Road to Revolution, and Revolutionary War). In teachers’ comparison classrooms, they provided the same social studies content as in their intervention classrooms but did not explicitly use the “PACT” components (though there were some elements of the “PACT” intervention that were observed in the comparison classrooms as part of typical teaching practice). The study assessed the effectiveness of “PACT” by comparing the general reading comprehension, social studies reading comprehension, and social studies knowledge of students in the intervention and comparison groups at the end of three instructional units. The study reported, and the WWC confirmed, that students in the classrooms where teachers used “PACT” for social studies instruction performed significantly better than students in comparison classrooms on the three outcome measures assessed by the authors. Students in the “PACT” classrooms scored higher than students in the comparison conditions in the reading and social studies comprehension and social studies knowledge domains. The research described in this report meets WWC evidence standards without reservations. This study is a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. [The following study is the focus of this “Single Study Review”: Vaughn, S., Swanson, E. A., Roberts, G., Wanzek, J., Stillman-Spisak, S. J., Solis, M., and Simmons, D. (2013). Improving reading comprehension and social studies knowledge in middle school. “Reading Research Quarterly,” 48(1) 77-93.] The following are appended: (1) Study details; (2) Outcome measures for each domain; and (3) Study findings for each domain. A glossary of terms is included. (Contains 2 endnotes.)
What Works Clearinghouse. P.O. Box 2393, Princeton, NJ 08543-2393. Tel: 866-503-6114; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: What Works Clearinghouse (ED)
Identifiers - Location: Texas
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Gates MacGinitie Reading Tests
IES Funded: Yes