Research & Evidence

Reading Apprenticeship Across the Disciplines

In 2015, WestEd’s proposal for a three-year project, Reading Apprenticeship Across the Disciplines (RAAD), was awarded a Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Our goal is to improve teacher effectiveness and student learning at the secondary level by providing literacy focused, research-based professional learning experiences to 2,000 teachers.

As part of this project, the Reading Apprenticeship team at WestEd is especially excited to work with partner organizations, education leaders, and schools in Chicago, Michigan, New York City, and Texas to implement the project while at the same time increasing local capacity to sustain this work. Participating teacher teams will be drawn from middle and high schools feeder patterns as a way to amplify the effect on adolescents who experience a reading apprenticeship over an extended period in multiple content areas.

While several large grants have supported implementation and research on the impact of Reading Apprenticeship in discipline-specific learning models – those in which teachers experience seven to ten days of learning in content-alike groups – this grant will afford us the opportunity to implement at scale, and study, a less time-intensive Reading Apprenticeship model that is in wide use: cross disciplinary. Teacher teams from multiple subject areas will participate in five days of face-to-face learning, followed by facilitated collaboration and learning time for teachers in small, online professional learning communities. This project also includes deliberate design to support teacher leaders and local education organizations in order to deepen teacher practice, broaden school uptake, and build local capacity to sustain the work.

An independent evaluation will study the impact of this cross-disciplinary blended model of Reading Apprenticeship on student learning and teacher practice change. The study will include a subset of about 50 schools, and will use a mixed-methods approach, including a randomized controlled trial to investigate the impact of the project on teacher practices, student use of literacy strategies and academic behaviors and dispositions, and student achievement. In addition, the evaluation team will provide formative feedback on teachers’ training and implementation of Reading Apprenticeship strategies.

Research Questions

The study will address these research questions:

Impact Evaluation

  1. What is the impact of RAAD on student achievement in literacy and science at the end of 8th grade?
  2. What is the impact of RAAD on students’ positive academic behaviors and dispositions toward learning among 8th grade students?
  3. What is the impact of RAAD on teachers’ instructional practices and use of RA strategies among 8th grade ELA, science, and social studies teachers?
  4. What is the impact of RAAD on average teacher effectiveness among 8th grade ELA, science, and social studies teachers as measured by their local evaluation systems? What is the impact on the number of teachers rated effective?
  5. What is the impact of RAAD on 8th grade ELA, science, and social studies teachers’ value added to student literacy?

Implementation Study

  1. To what extent were RAAD professional learning activities implemented with fidelity throughout the evaluation sites?
  2. What factors facilitate or undermine effective implementation of RAAD?

Formative Assessment and Capacity Building

  1. To what extent do teacher leaders and administrators participate in planned RAAD activities such as regional network meetings, PLCs, and school team meetings?
  2. To what extent do local partners effectively support ongoing RA implementation at school sites?
  3. To what extent are teacher leaders and administrators prepared to engage their broader school communities in learning about and taking up effective literacy practices?


Intervention: The intervention for the randomized controlled study is five days of face-to-face professional development plus an average of two hours per month of online professional learning and on-site monthly meetings facilitated by a teacher leader (about 50 hours total).

Design and Sample: The study uses a group randomized experimental design with a total of 50 participating schools in three states. Twenty-five schools will participate in the professional learning in the first year of implementation and 25 will participate in the third year. An average of four grade 8 teachers from each school and their 8th grade students will participate.


Complete study findings will be available after the end of the project, in 2020.