Research & Impact


Internet-Based Reading Apprenticeship Improving Science Education

iRAISE was awarded a three-year Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop and test an online version of the rigorously researched face-to-face RAISE model of Reading Apprenticeship professional development. iRAISE is designed to provide an online, cost-effective alternative for the large numbers of high school biology, chemistry, earth science, and physics teachers who might not otherwise have the opportunity to bring Reading Apprenticeship practices to their classrooms.

During the grant period, 150 teachers and 33,000 students will be impacted by the iRAISE professional development. Potentially tens of thousands more students and their teachers will benefit from planned-for scale-up of the online course.

The iRAISE development work involves Strategic Literacy Initiative’s instructional designers and two sets of 25 teacher design partners in iterative cycles of developing, piloting, and field-testing the 65-hour course. As with RAISE professional development, the goal is to help teachers increase students’ engagement in subject area reading—science in this case—and their comprehension of complex subject area texts.

External evaluators will provide qualitative feedback concerning all aspects of implementation of iRAISE as it moves through its various stages of development. The evaluators will also conduct a randomized controlled study of the 100 teachers recruited to participate in the iRAISE professional development.

To prepare for scaling up the dissemination of online Reading Apprenticeship professional development, a facilitator training program and materials are being developed and field tested. Science teacher leaders are being recruited from among experienced Reading Apprenticeship-trained teachers to participate as apprentice facilitators and design partners.

Research Questions

External evaluators from Empirical Education will address the following questions in the randomized controlled study:

  • Does iRAISE have an impact on student outcomes, including achievement, attitudes about reading, classroom literacy experiences, and the use of metacognitive strategies?
  • Does iRAISE impact teacher outcomes, including the ability to integrate disciplinary literacy practices and explicit literacy instruction into science courses, and teacher knowledge or attitude towards literacy instruction?

Another important question for the evaluation of iRAISE is how this adaptation of the proven RAISE model compares with it in terms of teacher practices and student outcomes.


Intervention: The intervention for the randomized controlled study is 65 hours of online professional development for teachers of high school science; teachers also have unlimited access to related online resources. Reading Apprenticeship-trained facilitators deliver the course to online classes of 25 teachers each.

Design and Sample: The study uses a group randomized experimental design in 18–20 schools in Michigan and Pennsylvania that serve a high proportion of high-needs students (students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, African American and Latino students, students with low prior academic achievement, particularly in science, and English language learners). The study subjects comprise 100 high school science teachers and their students, with one section per teacher selected at random to participate (to limit costs). Teachers are randomized within schools to iRAISE or business as usual, with controls wait-listed for one year before receiving iRAISE.


Complete study findings will be available at the end of the three-year project, in 2016.