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Developed by nationally recognized literacy experts and informed by teacher-practitioners, Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) tools were introduced and revised in multiple settings throughout the 2010–2011 co-development year. During the 2011–2012 pilot year, additional sites came on board, and in 2012–2013, statewide adoptions began in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Georgia, along with multiple district implementations across many of the 50 states in which LDC is currently in place.

The LDC initiative has continued to grow in the 2014–2015 school year, expanding the use of content area modules focused on high-quality writing tasks tied to subject area texts. Emerging research from the past few years of this work has confirmed preliminary findings: that LDC leads to teacher instructional shifts and improved student outcomes. Some of these findings are excerpted below with links to the full research body.  

Nationally recognized researchers at Research for Action (RFA) have been studying the early adoption of LDC tools, focusing on teachers’ response to and use of the tools in 2010–2011, expanding to include an analysis of the scale-up of the initiative in 2011–2012 and, in 2012–2013, evaluating the status of the initiative and how conditions that support robust implementation are related to scale-up and sustainability of this intensive instructional work.

Learn more about Research for Action LDC studies.

Assessing What Matters: Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) Writing Tasks as Measures of Student Learning

Palo Alto: SCALE/Stanford University Graduate School of Education. July 2015
By Ruth Chung Wei, Ph.D and Kenneth Cor, Ph.D.


This report, published by SCALE in July 2015, is based on a paper presented at the 
2015 Annual Meeting of the American Education Research Association. The report examines results from a 2012–2013 study of instructionally-embedded performance assessments: Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) writing tasks.

The Implementation and Effects of the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC): Early Findings in Sixth-Grade Advanced Reading Courses

Los Angeles: CRESST/University of California. July 2015
By Joan L. Herman, Scott Epstein, Seth Leon, Yunyun Dai, Deborah La Torre Matrundola, Sarah Reber, and Kilchan Choi


This report by the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) provides an early look at the implementation of LDC in sixth-grade Advanced Reading classes in a large Florida district, and the effectiveness of the intervention in this setting. The study found that teachers understood LDC and implemented it with fidelity and that curriculum modules were well crafted. Teachers also generally reported positive attitudes about the effectiveness of LDC and its usefulness as a tool for teaching CCSS skills. Exploratory analyses suggest that LDC may have been most effective for higher achieving students.  


RFA Brief #1: LDC’s Influence on Teaching and Learning

Philadelphia: Feb 2015
By Research for Action


Research for Action (RFA), a non-profit education research organization, has been studying LDC since its inception in 2010. Partnering with RFA, the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST) examined the implementation and impact of LDC tools in two contexts: eighth grade history/social studies and science classes in Kentucky and Pennsylvania, and sixth grade Advanced Reading classes in Florida.

This brief draws on a 2013 survey of 3,324 English Language Arts (ELA), Science, and Social Studies teachers in 21 states (response rate of 54%) and recent interview data from three case study sites—two school districts and an education service agency (ESA). 

Using Common Assignments to Strengthen Teaching and Learning: Research on the 1st Year of Implementation

Executive Study
By Research for Action (September 2014)


Initiated in the 2013–14 school year, the Common Assignment Study (CAS) is a three-year effort being led by the Colorado Education Initiative and The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This executive summary presents key findings from Research for Action’s (RFA’s) report on the first year of CAS implementation.

RFA Brief #2: Conditions Related to Strong Integration and Growth of LDC

Philadelphia: June 2014
By Research for Action


This brief examines the relationships between supportive school and district conditions and scale up of the LDC initiative. It also identifies practices that can strengthen these supporting conditions. The information presented here draws on a 2013 survey of 3,324 English Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies teachers in 21 states (response rate of 54%) and recent interview data from three case studies sites – two in separate school districts and an ESA (education service agency) with four districts providing interview data. 

Supporting Middle School Content Teachers Transition to the Common Core: The Implementation and Effects of LDC

California: Center on Research, Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing, 2014
By Joan Herman and Scott Epstein


This paper reports on one of two studies CRESST is conducting on LDC.  The study reported here examines the implementation and impact of LDC in eighth grade social studies and science classrooms in two states:  Kentucky and Pennsylvania.  

Literacy Design Collaborative—Module Jurying: Innovating for High Quality Design

California: Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equality. May 2014
By Ruth Chung Wei


Beginning in the fall of 2011, the LDC and the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE) began a collaboration to develop criteria to evaluate the quality of the LDC modules that were being designed by teachers and other users, including their alignment to the CCSS. This paper describes the development process and rationale for the design of the "Jurying Rubric" that emerged from that process. 

Paper presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Philadelphia, PA.

Literacy Design Collaborative and Mathematics Design Collaborative: Research Findings from RFA and CRESST

September 2013
By Research for Action & National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST),


An overview of (1) key research findings on the Research for Action (RFA) scale-up and sustainablity study and case studies of the LDC and MDC initiatives; and (2) the UCLA National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) evaluation of LDC and MDC. (PDF version of PPT presentation)

Scale-Up and Sustainability Study of the LDC and MDC Initiatives

Philadelphia: Research for Action. September 2013
By Stephanie Levin, Ph.D., and Susan M. Poglinco, Ph.D.


This study presents findings from the third year of research of the implementation, scale-up, and sustainability of the LDC and MDC (Math Design Collaborative) initiatives. Findings presented in this report are primarily based on extensive field surveys with teachers, principals, and district administrators involved in the LDC (and MDC) initiatives.

Key Findings:

  • RFA researchers found strong evidence of robust implementation across most indicators.
  • Teacher research survey results confirm the utility of LDC tools and that teachers know how to use them effectively to support improved student learning.
  • A number of important conditions continue to support the initiative as it scales, including: alignment to the Common Core State Standards, school curriculum, and state assessments; school and district leadership; and professional learning opportunities.
  • Evidence indicates that tool use is expanding and becoming more embedded in teachers’ instructional practice.


Teachers’ Use of LDC Tools: RFA Survey Results

September 2013  (N>1572)

  • 93% of teachers agreed that LDC tools promote literacy instruction in science, social studies, or secondary classrooms 
  • 87% of teachers reported use of tools supported college readiness
  • 79% of teachers reported use of tools resulted in higher quality writing
  • 78% of teachers reported tools were effective in making instruction more engaging to students
  • 75% of teachers reported use of tools helped prepare students for current assessments
  • 82% of teachers believe LDC is effective in encouraging use of formative assessments to identify strengths/weaknesses

The Implementation and Scale-Up of LDC and MDC Tools Executive Summary

Philadelphia: Research for Action. September 2012
By Research for Action


This executive summary provides an overview of the research that is described in greater detail in previous research briefs, including the LDC and MDC Theory of Action and the landscape of implementation, teachers’ perceptions of LDC tool use and outcomes, and conditions for scale and sustainability.

Brief One: LDC and MDC Theory of Action and the Landscape of Implementation

Philadelphia: Research for Action. September 2012
By Mark Duffy and Elizabeth Park


Brief One presents key background information referenced in the other briefs and describes the implementation and the scale-up of the LDC/MDC initiative, including the Theory of Action, a national overview of the initiative that highlights the extent of training on LDC and MDC tools, a detailed look at changes to the number of schools and teachers involved at study sites, and a description of research methodology.

Brief Two: Robust Implementation of LDC: Teacher Perceptions of Tool Use and Outcomes

Philadelphia: Research for Action. September 2012
By Rebecca Reumann-Moore, Ph.D., and Felicia Sanders, Ph.D.


This research brief highlights and assesses the status of elements of robust implementation of the LDC tools, which are represented in the Theory of Action. Six indicators, which fall into two main categories (Teacher Beliefs & Knowledge and Classroom Changes), are instrumental in understanding teachers’ disposition toward the tools and their perceptions of how their instruction and student learning have changed as a result of their participation in the LDC initiative. 

Brief Four: Conditions for Scale and Sustainability

Philadelphia: Research for Action. September 2012
By Stephanie Levin, Ph.D.; Mark Duffy; and Kelly Dever, Ph.D.


This research brief focuses on efforts to scale up and sustain broader use of the tools. It provides detail on the extent to which use of the tools has grown, as well as a review of the Theory of Action driving the LDC/MDC initiative, highlighting conditions necessary for robust implementation. The brief presents findings on the extent to which the conditions necessary for robust tool implementation are in evidence and offers suggestions for supporting enhanced and expanded tool implementation. 

Establishing a Strong Foundation: District- and School-Level Supports for Classroom Implementation of the LDC and MDC Frameworks Executive Summary

Philadelphia: Research for Action. September 2011
By Rebecca Reumann-Moore, Ph.D.; Nancy Lawrence, Ph.D.; Felicia Sanders, Ph.D.; Jolley Bruce Christman, Ph.D.; and Mark Duffy


This research brief provides an overview of the RFA analysis of school- and district-level conditions and contexts that lead to successful adoption of the tools, and a status report of the degree to which such conditions are present in pilot sites after one year of implementation. It examines actions that school and district leaders can take to support teachers' adoption and effective implementation of the tools.

Four conditions were identified by researchers as central to successful implementation of the literacy (and math) instructional tools. When the identified conditions and supports are present, teachers are more likely to display and report early indicators of successful adoption and use of LDC tools to support student learning. These conditions include:

  • Robust district/regional/school network leadership to guide the initiative, oversee professional learning opportunities, build engagement and knowledge among stakeholders, and monitor alignment
  •  Strong school leaders who will champion the use of the LDC tools and who will establish and maintain supportive school structures and provide the necessary resources
  •  Ongoing, meaningful professional learning opportunities that incorporate content knowledge as well as instruction and that include collaboration with peers and classroom-based assistance
  •  Alignment with CCSS, curricula, and assessments

CCSS Literacy and Math Tools: An Interim Report on Implementation and Sustainability during the Pilot Year

Philadelphia: Research for Action. March 2011.
By Rebecca Reumann-Moore, Ph.D.; Nancy Lawrence, Ph.D.; Felicia Sanders, Ph.D.; Kate Shaw, Ph.D.; and Jolley Bruce Christman, Ph.D.


This research brief presents key findings to date about the pilot phase of the instructional tools. The report includes findings from four literacy sites where district staff and teachers participated in professional development and developed and implemented the literacy tools. District staff, principals, and teachers were interviewed about their experiences in the initiative; RFA staff also observed professional development and classrooms of teachers during tool implementation. 

LDC and UbD: Complementary Frameworks

Revised January 6, 2013
By Jay McTighe


Educators must translate the Common Core State Standards into curricula and determine the instruction needed to help students achieve them. Understanding by Design® (UbD) and the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) both provide robust frameworks to help educators achieve this aim. This paper explores the seamless connections between UbD and LDC and suggests ways to extend the power and impact of each.


Key Findings

Understanding by Design and the Literacy Design Collaborative are similar in concept and practice. The confluence of these two frameworks offers a promising pathway for building coherent curricula for engaging students in meaningful application of their learning.

Both frameworks:

  • Provide structured, yet flexible frameworks for guiding curriculum planning, instruction, and assessment aligned to standards
  • Encourage “backward” mapping of instruction from desired performance on worthy tasks
  • Offer practical design tools to guide teachers and teams in instructional design
  • Provide educators with multiple examples (UbD units, template tasks, and modules) that can be adapted and used to create additional resources
  • Engage students in authentic application of knowledge and skills through rich tasks based on standards
  • Include criterion-based tools and review protocols for quality control and feedback
  • Support meaningful collaboration by educators in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)

Designing Professional Learning

A Report on Effective Professional Learning Design
By AITSL & Learning Forward


Working in partnership with AITSL, Learning Forward produced Designing Professional Learning (2014), a report on effective professional learning design. In the report, Literacy Design Collaborative was singled out as a model for effective and engaging professional learning design that embodies the Learning Forward Standards for Professional Learning.

LDC is currently working with Learning Forward to identify key alignments between LDC and Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning: the “what’s” and the “how’s” of professional learning that come to life in an LDC implementation. 

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