MCPER is partnering with the University of Maryland to implement and refine a tiered approach to improve reading among sixth- through eighth-grade students with disabilities in public schools.

The first goal is to increase knowledge about the implementation and efficacy of an instructional and intensive intervention model for adolescents with disabilities and significant reading difficulties. We aim to determine whether and to what extent the project (a) improves reading achievement and literacy-related outcomes and (b) assists educators in developing a model for implementing research-based practices for students with disabilities in middle school. The second goal is increased availability of evidence-based technical assistance, professional development, and publications on effective models and their successful implementation for secondary students with disabilities.

Within a tiered model, all science, social studies, and English language arts teachers will receive extensive, high-quality professional development to implement Promoting Adolescents' Comprehension of Text (PACT) in their classrooms. In addition, all special education teachers will receive equally extensive and high-quality professional development to implement the Responsive Intervention for Students With Disabilities (RISD) intervention.

Project Design


District of Columbia Public Schools middle schools will receive a 2-year program of (a) intensive professional development and coaching to implement PACT and RISD schoolwide followed by (b) coaching support and professional development targeted to meet ongoing needs related to PACT and RISD implementation.


More than 1,500 students in sixth through eighth grades in District of Columbia Public Schools

OSEP-Funded Partners

Through the Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children With Disabilities program, the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) funded three model demonstration centers to improve reading outcomes for adolescents with disabilities by implementing models and activities that are supported by evidence-based research. Project work began in 2015 and will end in 2019. Follow the links below to learn more about the three centers in cooperative agreement with OSEP to complete this important work:

Impact Statement

"I'm really looking forward to Phase 2 … If our results are even better than last year on [reading outcomes], it'll be largely due to more reading for all of our kids, which is a result of PACT.”

— Middle school assistant principal


Resources are forthcoming and will be posted here when available.

Findings (Publications and Presentations)

Contact Information

Elizabeth Swanson
Co-Principal Investigator

Principal Investigators

  • Sharon Vaughn
  • Elizabeth Swanson

Non-MCPER Principal Investigators

  • Jade Wexler, University of Maryland

Collaborative Partners

Funding Agency


  • 2015–2019


  • District of Columbia Public Schools middle schools