The Effects of PACT on Social Studies Knowledge and Comprehension Among Middle School Students

Middle school students reading together

Learning content in any area depends on a student’s ability to understand challenging academic text. The Promoting Accelerated Reading Comprehension of Text (PACT) intervention seeks to improve literacy strategies in the context of social studies instruction. What is PACT?

Watching students interact with each other and defend their thinking was a very powerful piece I saw in the classroom.

– 2021 Participating Educator

AIR, along with its partners the University of Missouri, WestEd, and University of Texas, is conducting a multiyear randomized controlled trial as a systematic replication of the PACT intervention (Vaughn et al., 2013). The goal is to replicate and test whether a variation of the PACT intervention, called PACT-Local (PACT-L), can increase social studies content acquisition, reading comprehension, and course motivation and engagement for diverse students when implemented without direct support to teachers from the researchers who developed it.

Researchers are utilizing a train-the-trainers model of delivery that relies on a network of local coaches to coach classroom teachers to implement PACT.


What is PACT?

  • PACT seeks to improve literacy strategies in the context of social studies instruction. It addresses three American history units commonly addressed during middle school.
  • Research studies have shown that PACT has significantly positive effects on outcomes in social studies, reading, and language.
  • PACT has been found to be effective with diverse learners, including English learners, students with and without disabilities and reading difficulties, and students with diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds.
  • Because of the prior evidence on effectiveness, the U.S. Department of Education earmarked PACT for additional study.

The Role of PACT in Adolescent Literacy and Content-Area Learning

Contact our recruitment team to learn more about participating in the PACT-L study, or fill out our interest form and someone will reach out to you soon.
  • Learning content in such a course as social studies depends on a student’s ability to comprehend challenging text. However, not all adolescents are adequately prepared to independently read and understand such content, which can then impede their acquisition of content knowledge (Heller & Greenleaf, 2007; Swanson et al., 2015).
  • These challenges can result in poor achievement, cause students to become increasingly disengaged from school, and affect their academic self-efficacy (Daggett & Hasselbring, 2014; Learner, 2016).
  • PACT infuses evidence-based reading comprehension and vocabulary practices into social studies content.
  • PACT also addresses cognitive processes, motivation, and engagement.
  • PACT provides middle school social studies teachers with strategies and materials to address student comprehension and with professional development and coaching to support their classroom practices.