Funded under the IES Reading for Understanding Initiative (RfU), the Project READI team engaged in researching and developing interventions to enhance adolescents’ reading for understanding with a focus on history and science. The RfU Initiative was significant because it invested about $120 million in six research teams charged with improving reading comprehension.
The final report of the RfU project was published in 2020 and is titled Reaping the Rewards.
Reading Apprenticeship’s focus in this large project was focused on investigating the role of evidence-based argumentation in grades 6–12. Our team led the design of the professional learning and curriculum development and contributed deeply to the project’s work in science and history.
Project READI culminated in a randomized control trial (RCT) efficacy study in 9th grade sciences classes designed to promote students’ use of text-based investigation of biological phenomena. The study included 964 students and 48 teachers in 24 schools.
The findings of the study indicated that participating in the Reading Apprenticeship professional development intervention significantly impacted teachers’ practices and student performance. Teacher interviews, surveys, and observations indicate significant shifts in participating teachers’ instructional practices and routines aligned with the Project READI approach and its emphasis on socially supported reading, reasoning, and evidence-based argumentation.
Students in intervention classrooms as compared with those in control classrooms indicated significantly higher performance in the comprehension of science information from multiple texts. The students completed two reading comprehension assessments developed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS): the Reading Inventory and Scholastic Evaluation (RISE) and the Global Integrated Scenario-Based Assessment (GISA), a test of comprehension from multiple texts. Significantly higher performance on the MC task for the intervention group (56% correct) was observed compared with the control group (51% correct). Overall, effect sizes from these assessments of comprehension showed that the intervention students were about 1.5 years ahead of the control students.