Back to programs
Math Icon
Reading grades studied

2 – 6

Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC) — Struggling Readers

Essa Rating
No. Studies
No. Students
Average Effect Size

Program Description

Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC) is a cooperative learning program designed to teach reading and writing to students in the upper-elementary grades. In CIRC, students work in 4-5 member mixed-ability teams to help each other learn comprehension and writing skills. Teams can earn recognition based on the progress made by team members on regular assessments and compositions. After teacher instruction on reading comprehension strategies, students work with teammates on activities related to novels or factual texts in which they make predictions, write summaries, make and interpret graphic organizers and outlines, and answer questions relating to characters, settings, problems, and problem solutions. They take turns reading to each other and work with each other on writing, vocabulary, and fluency activities. Struggling readers, including students in special education with specific learning disabilities, are fully integrated into regular classes and student teams. CIRC has been modified to reflect 21st Century Standards, and is now implemented as Reading Wings.

Program Outcomes

CIRC has been evaluated in comparison to control groups in three qualifying studies. Two were in suburban Maryland districts, and one in rural southern Ohio. Analyses of data just for struggling readers (students in special education in the Maryland studies, students in the lowest 33% at pretest in the Ohio study) found significant positive effects on CAT Reading, with a mean of +0.47. Because the studies used matching instead of random assignment, the outcomes qualified CIRC-Struggling Readers for the ESSA “Moderate” category.

Staffing Requirements

CIRC (Reading Wings) is provided by classroom teachers during time usually allocated to Language Arts/Reading, so no additional staff is required.

Professional Development/Training

Professional development is provided through a combination of onsite workshops, email and telephone support, “just-in-time” online resources, and onsite observations and consultation. Two days of workshop participation per teacher are required to begin implementation. A strong focus is the development of regular peer support structures within the school.


No technology is required. Many student resources and teacher resources are available via the internet, so technology resources available in the school can be helpful.