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Reading grades studied

2 – 6

Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (CIRC) — Whole Class

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. 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 four qualifying studies. Two were in suburban Maryland districts, one in rural southern Ohio, and a fourth study involved English learners in Texas. All four studies found significant positive effects on CAT Reading or state tests, with a mean of +0.22. Because the studies used matching instead of random assignment, the outcomes qualified CIRC 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.