Scale-Up of PACT: Examining the Effectiveness of a Content Area Reading Comprehension Approach


MCPER is partnering with Vanderbilt University to conduct a 5-year study to determine the effectiveness of a fully developed set of U.S. history unit lessons when implemented (i.e., scaled up) by social studies teachers across various middle schools. The study will also examine how differences in teacher implementation and other factors affect the overall effectiveness of the lesson materials and, ultimately, student outcomes.

The researcher-developed lesson materials include three 10-day units aligned with U.S. history curriculum standards. Each unit focuses on teaching students important social studies concepts through a literacy lens. Specifically, each unit provides instruction on essential words, reading of social studies text and primary source documents, discussion, and team-based learning approaches to guide application of knowledge.

Interested in participating?

Researchers are currently accepting middle schools in California, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Tennessee, and Texas for participation in the 2019–2020 school year. Download our flyers below or contact Letty Martinez, project director, for more information.

General Project Information

Project Timeline

Information About Unit Lessons


Research is ongoing.

Past PACT research found that, on average, students made gains in history knowledge and understanding of key history concepts when compared with students taught by the same teachers in different classes.

Project Design


This study examines how to improve students’ knowledge of eighth-grade U.S. history, reading comprehension of social studies text, content area vocabulary, and general reading comprehension.


Participating teachers will receive 2 days of professional development before implementing the history units and 1 day of follow-up professional development after teaching the first unit. Lessons will be implemented daily in general education social studies classrooms for approximately 8 consecutive weeks at the beginning of the fall semester. Lesson materials align with each state’s eighth-grade social studies and history standards, and all materials will be provided to participating schools at no charge.

Sample Lessons

Colonial America

Road to Revolution

American Revolution


Approximately 18,000 eighth-grade social studies students and 180 eighth-grade social studies teachers across multiple states will participate.

Videos: See the Lessons in Action