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A study of the impact of Imagination Library participation on kindergarten reading achievement

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Lisa Embree
Abstract:
Very little research has been conducted on the impact of the Imagination Library, a Tennessee based reading program, on student reading achievement. Therefore, the purpose of this cross-sectional explanatory study was to test whether Imagination Library program participation had an impact on reading achievement for kindergarten students from 3 rural elementary schools. The theoretical basis for this study was Vygotsky's sociocultural theory, the process of scaffolding, and language learning models. ANOVA was used to test the hypothesis that reading achievement for participants was significantly different from nonparticipants and was also used to test the hypotheses of relationships between reading achievement and gender and socioeconomic status. Spearman correlation was used to test whether a relationship exists between the reported frequency of read-aloud sessions and achievement as well as a relationship between the length of time in the program and achievement. Findings from this study supported an achievement gap by socioeconomic status. However, findings failed to support a gender achievement gap and that program participation, length of participation, or the reported frequency of read-aloud sessions significantly impacted reading achievement among kindergarten students. A conclusion from this research is that just sending free books to children is not enough. Recommendations for action include registering more lower-income households, enriching the program with supplemental information or materials, and providing opportunities for parent education workshops. The implications for social change include greater awareness of early intervention strategies for reducing the achievement gap and enhancing literacy at an early age.

iv TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF TABLES……………………………………………………………………vi LIST OF FIGURES…………………………………………………………………..vii

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY………………………………….1 Introduction……………………………………………………………………….1 Statement of the Problem………………………………………………………....5 Purpose of the study………………………………………………………………7 Nature of the Study……………………………………………………………….8 Research Questions………………………………………………………………11 Null Hypotheses………………………………………………………………….13 Alternative Hypotheses…………………………………………………………..13 Theoretical Framework…………………………………………………………..14 Definition of Terms………………………………………………………………16 Assumptions……………………………………………………………………...18 Limitations………………………………………………………………………..19 Delimitations……………………………………………………………………...19 Significance of the Study…………………………………………………………19 Summary and Transition..………………………………………………………...20

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW………………………………………………23 Introduction………………………………………………………………………..23 Imagination Library……………………………………………………………….23 Different Reading Philosophies…………………………………………………...26 Literacy Coaching and Parental Education………………………………………..28 Reading Aloud……………………………………………………………………. 31 Home Environment……………………………………………………………….. 33 Parental Attitudes and Reading Ability……………………………………………34 Emergent Literacy and School Readiness…………………………………………36 Achievement Gaps…………………………………………………………………37 Book-Distribution Programs……………………………………………………….39 Parental Training and Complementary Learning…………………………………..41 Summary and Conclusion………………………………………………………….44

CHAPTER 3: DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY……………………………………..46 Introduction………………………………………………………………………...46 Design……………………………………………………………………………...48 Methodology……………………………………………………………………….50 Summary…………………………………………………………………………...54

CHAPTER 4: RESULTS……………………………………………………………….56 Introduction………………………………………………………………………..56 Data Collection…………………………………………………………………… 59

v Data Analysis………………………………………………………………………60 Interpretation of the Data…………………………………………………………..80 Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………86

CHAPTER 5: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS………89 Introduction………………………………………………………………………...89 Interpretation of Findings…………………………………………………………..93 Implications for Social Change…………………………………………………….97 Recommendations for Action……………………………………………………...98 Recommendations for Further Study……………………………………………...100 Conclusion………………………………………………………………………...101

REFERENCES…………………………………………………………………………104

APPENDIX A: STRATIFIED SUMMARY…………………………………………...121

APPENDIX B: FREE AND REDUCED STUDENT SCORES……………………….122

CURRICULUM VITAE………………………………………………………………..125

vi LIST OF TABLES Table 1. Descriptive Statistics for Reading Achievement by Group…………………….62 Table 2. ANOVA for Reading Achievement by Group…………………………………63 Table 3. Descriptive Statistics for Reading Achievement by Lunch Status……………..64 Table 4. ANOVA for Reading Achievement by Lunch Status………………………….65 Table 5. Descriptive Statistics for Reading Achievement by Group and Lunch Status…………………………………………………………………………...66

Table 6. Between Groups Comparisons for Reading Achievement by Group and Lunch Status……………………………………………………………….69

Table 7. Individual Comparisons Between Groups Within Lunch Status………………70 Table 8. Individual Comparisons Between Lunch Status Within Groups………………71 Table 9. Descriptive Statistics for Reading Achievement by Gender…………………..72 Table 10. ANOVA for Reading Achievement by Gender………………………………73 Table 11. Descriptive Statistics for Reading Achievement by Group and Gender……...74 Table 12. Between Groups Comparisons for Reading Achievement by Group and Gender…………………………………………………………………….76

Table 13. Individual Comparisons Between Groups Within Gender……………………77 Table 14. Individual Comparisons Between Gender Within Groups……………………78 Table 15. Spearman Correlations Among Reading Achievement, Years in Program, and Frequency………………………………………………………79

Table 16. Summary of Analyses with Conclusions……………………………………...85

vii LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. Reading Achievement by Group and Lunch Status…………………………...67 Figure 2. Reading Achievement by Group and Gender…………………………………75

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY Introduction Academic achievement across disciplines is dependent on reading achievement (Grimm, 2008; McCoach, O’Connell, Reis, & Levitt, 2006). A significant relationship exists between early home literacy experiences, such as the availability of books and frequency of read-aloud sessions, and reading achievement (Rashid, Morris & Sevcik, 2005). More specifically, a literate home environment (Rashid et al., 2005) is directly related to a child’s language development (Kelly & Campbell, 2008; McCoach et al., 2006), early literacy development (American Library Association [ALA], 2007; National Reading Panel [NRP], 2001; Rashid et al., 2005), school readiness (ALA, 2007; Nord, Lennon, Liu, & Chandler, 1999), future reading performance (Molfese, Modglin, & Molfese, 2003), and overall school achievement (Chall & Snow, 1982). Home factors, such as parental attitudes (Park, 2008), being read to everyday (Chall & Snow, 1982; Dickenson & Neuman, 2006; Healy, 2001; Nord et al., 1999; Trelease, 1995), and access to books (Book Trust, 2006; Feitelson & Goldstein, 1986; PISA, 2000; Trelease, 2001), improve children’s reading performances. In conjunction with the influence of a literate home environment, researchers report a relationship between socioeconomic level and readiness for school (ALA, 2007), as well as socioeconomic level and reading achievement (Chall & Snow, 1982; PISA, 2006; PISA, 2000). Eamon (2005) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES, 2008), report on the effect of poverty on reading achievement. Children living in

2 poverty are less likely to be read to (O’Donnell, 2008) and have fewer books in the home, accounting for individual differences in academic achievement (ALA, 2007). Research indicates few or no books in the home (Book Trust, 2006) and limited time spent reading aloud in the home result in later academic difficulties (Colgan, 2002; McCarthy, 1995; Ullery, 1992), especially in lower-income households. Therefore, many students are entering school unprepared and at risk for early reading difficulties (Boyer, 1991; Carter, 1967). Students who start school at a disadvantage generally continue to perform at a lower reading level throughout high school compared to peers who start school with enriched home experiences (ALA, 2007; Kelly & Campbell, 2008; Strickland, 2002). The percentage of students in Tennessee recognized as economically disadvantaged is 47.1, which is higher than the national average of 40.9 (State Education Data Center [SEDC], 2008; U. S. Department of Education [U. S. DOE], 2008a). Forty- five percent of schools in Tennessee qualify as Title 1 schools (NCES, 2007). In 2002, the Reading First Initiative and the Early Reading First Initiative (U. S. DOE, 2008b) of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, 2001) were intended to “help close the achievement gap between disadvantaged and minority students and their peers” (U. S. DOE, 2008b, ¶ 1) by improving reading performance by the end of grade 3. However, Tennessee students in grades 4 and 8 who are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch, scored lower than students who were not eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (NCES, 2007). Further, Black and Hispanic students in Tennessee in grades 4 and 8 scored lower than White students, and the achievement gap between grade 4 Black and White students was 6 points greater in 2007 than it was in 1992 (NCES, 2007).

3 As part of a national political and educational agenda, Tennessee is faced with the challenge of improving student reading scores. Tennessee students score below the national average percentage for reading proficiency (SEDC, 2008) and did not improve achievement in reading at the elementary level (Tennessee Department of Education [TDOE], 2008b). There has been no significant gain in grade 4 reading performance in Tennessee from 1992 to 2007 (Lee, Grigg, & Donahue, 2007; NCES, 2007). In response to increased accountability requirements and No Child Left Behind reform, the state of Tennessee has adopted an early intervention book-distribution program intended to enrich children’s home literacy environments by increasing their access to books and encouraging parents to read with their children starting at birth (Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation [GBBF], 2008c). Approximately 52% of the state of Tennessee’s total population under age 5 is registered for the Imagination Library program and receiving a new book every month in the mail at no cost to the family (GBBF, 2008c). As of November 2008, 60% of the children under age 5 in Sullivan County, Tennessee were registered for the Imagination Library and nearly 3,000 children in Sullivan County had graduated from the program (GBBF, 2008b). Two research studies have been conducted in Tennessee concerning the Imagination Library. A 2003 study submitted to The Dollywood Foundation surveyed parents about their opinions on how the program impacted home reading attitudes and practices (High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 2003). Of the 821 respondents, 34% reported the Imagination Library was the home’s primary source of books and indicated time spent reading to their children increased as a result of the program

4 (High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 2003). Recommendations from the 2003 study included a need to recruit and maintain contact with lower-income households (High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 2003). In 2007, a study conducted by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) surveyed preschool and kindergarten teachers concerning their opinions, based on teacher observations, on whether participants in the program outperformed nonparticipants (TBR, 2008a; TBR, 2008b). Of the 320 kindergarten teachers and approximately 150 prekindergarten teachers that responded to the Internet web-based survey, 64% of preK teachers and 48% of kindergarten teachers stated that Imagination Library participants performed better than expected compared to nonparticipants (TBR, 2008a; TBR, 2008b). However, teacher responses were analyzed using a five-point Likert rating scale (TBR, 2008a; TBR, 2008b), as opposed to actual student achievement scores. This study is important to stakeholders because the state department of Tennessee, the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, and county Imagination Library sponsors across the state are operating without supporting reading achievement scores determining the effectiveness of the program and the reading performance of school-aged Imagination Library participants compared to nonparticipants. Social change is addressed by exploring the role an early intervention book-distribution program plays on beginning of the year instructional reading levels among kindergarten students, and study findings can inform legislators and state department leaders of the role early reading programs play in regards to school readiness. This study is important because “35% of American children entering kindergarten today lack the basic language skills they will need to learn to read”

5 (Reach Out and Read [ROR], 2008, p. 2). The research literature reports that book ownership and reading aloud to children prior to starting school is related to reading achievement, and success in the early grades is indicative of later school success (American Federation of Teachers [AFT], 2009a). Specifically, children who have difficulty with early literacy skills in kindergarten and at the end of grade 1 continue to underachieve on grade 4 standardized reading assessments (Juel, 1988; Torgesen, 2004). Research indicates that “intervening early to improve the home learning environment for disadvantaged children will ensure that they are ready to learn when they enter school and succeed later in life” (ROR, 2008, p. 2). Thus, exploring the impact of Imagination Library participation on reading achievement among kindergarten students is aligned with Walden University’s mission of social change (Walden University, 2008). Statement of the Problem Little is known about the impact of Imagination Library participation on the reading achievement of Tennessee students. Specifically, it is not known in Sullivan County, Tennessee whether or to what extent providing children birth to age 5 with one free children’s book in the mail every month impacts beginning of the year instructional reading levels among kindergarten students. Additionally, it is not known to what degree participating families use the free books and whether the reported frequency of read- aloud sessions with Imagination Library books impacts beginning of the year instructional reading levels among kindergarten students at three rural elementary schools in Sullivan County, Tennessee. Currently, the Commissioner of the state department of Tennessee provides all superintendents across the state with a questionnaire for parents to

6 complete at kindergarten registration regarding the length of time their children participated in the Imagination Library. However, many schools in Tennessee are not providing the questionnaire to the parents, and children continue to enter kindergarten without the needed identification to track the achievement of participants in the program compared to nonparticipants (M. B. Ikard, personal communication, November 13, 2008). This problem impacts legislators, state department leaders, and county sponsors because the cost of purchasing and delivering books is $28 per child, per year (GBBF, 2008a). There are many possible factors contributing to this problem, among which include the fact that the program was funded statewide in 2004, making it difficult to determine the program’s effects because participants have not been old enough to take elementary reading achievement tests. Furthermore, some stakeholders are reluctant to gather student reading scores because participating families are promised their personal information will only be needed for monthly book mailings (J. Miles, personal communication, November 20, 2008). This study will contribute to the body of knowledge needed to address this problem by exploring the impact of Imagination Library participation on elementary student achievement at three schools in northeastern Tennessee. Specifically, this study will explore the extent to which providing children birth to age 5 with one free children’s book in the mail every month impacts the reading levels among kindergarten students at the beginning of the school year at three rural elementary schools in Sullivan County, Tennessee. Additionally, this study will explore to what degree participating families use

7 the free books and whether the length of participation or reported frequency of read-aloud sessions impacts reading achievement. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this cross-sectional explanatory study was to test the theory of Imagination Library effectiveness that compares Imagination Library participation to reading achievement, for kindergarten students at three rural elementary schools in Sullivan County, Tennessee. The independent variable, participation in the Imagination Library program, is defined as registration during the preschool years and beginning anytime from birth to age 5 that provides children with one free children’s book in the mail every month. The dependent variable, reading achievement, is defined as performance based on a beginning of the year standardized baseline test that measures instructional reading levels and includes a tiered reading placement. This study explored five relationships: 1. The impact of the Imagination Library program in regards to the beginning of the year instructional reading levels of kindergarten participants compared to nonparticipants and of 2. Participants who qualified for free and reduced-price school lunch compared with kindergarten students who were not participants who qualified for free and reduced- price school lunch. 3. Beginning of the year instructional reading levels among kindergarten male participants of the Imagination Library compared to female participants.

8 4. The relationship between the reported frequency at which the Imagination Library books were read to the children prior to kindergarten registration and beginning of the year instructional reading levels among kindergarten students who were participants in the Imagination Library. 5. The relationship between the length of participation in the Imagination Library program prior to kindergarten registration and beginning of the year instructional reading levels among kindergarten students. Nature of the Study This quantitative study used a cross-sectional, explanatory design (Johnson, 2001) to explore whether or to what extent providing children birth to age 5 with one free children’s book in the mail every month and whether the length of participation or the reported frequency of read-aloud sessions with Imagination Library books impacts reading achievement among kindergarten students at three rural elementary schools in Sullivan County, Tennessee. The rationale for choosing a cross-sectional, explanatory design was that “nonexperimental quantitative research is an important area of research for educators because there are so many important but nonmanipulable independent variables needing further study in the field of education” (Johnson, 2001, p. 3). Archival data was gathered from a questionnaire administered in March of 2009 during kindergarten registration at the chosen elementary schools. It was needed to determine the reported frequency of read-aloud sessions with Imagination Library books and the length of participation in the program. The baseline test is the chosen reading test for this study based on the advantages of cost, accessibility, convenience, and time (Creswell,

9 2003), because it is a standardized test currently given to all kindergarten students at the three elementary schools. The rationale for choosing only kindergarten students as study participants was due to the number of years the program has been offered to families residing in Sullivan County, Tennessee. The Sullivan County Imagination Library program was founded in September 2004 (GBBF, 2008b). Many children entering kindergarten in August of 2009 were born in 2004. Depending on the month they were born, children entering kindergarten in August of 2009 are the first group of school-aged children that could have been registered in the program since birth. The majority of 2009 kindergarteners could have been eligible for the program for at least the last 4 years prior to their school entrance. The rationale for determining the impact of the program among kindergarteners who qualify for free and reduced-price school lunch is based on the research literature that indicates low-income families have fewer books in the home. The schools chosen for this study qualify as Title 1 schools. The rationale for determining the impact of the program among boys and girls is based on the research literature indicating a gender gap in reading achievement and beginning literacy acquisition. The rationale for determining the relationship between the reported frequency at which the Imagination Library books were read to the children prior to kindergarten registration and beginning of the year instructional reading levels is based on the literature that indicates a relationship exists between book ownership and frequency of read-aloud sessions on reading achievement. The total group of interest was all kindergarten students from three rural elementary schools in Sullivan County, Tennessee, which included 187 children. Ninety-

10 eight boys and 89 girls comprised the total kindergarten class. The total population of kindergarteners who participated in the Imagination Library program was 97 students. The total population of kindergarteners who qualified for free and reduced-price school lunch included 88 students. A random sample of 90 was obtained from the 187 students enrolled at the three schools in August 2009. Students were stratified, using the populations of kindergarten participants, kindergarten nonparticipants, participants who qualified for free and reduced-price school lunch, participants who did not qualify for free and reduced-price school lunch, nonparticipants who qualified for free and reduced- price school lunch, nonparticipants who did not qualify for free and reduced-price school lunch, male participants, and female participants. The instrument used for determining the reading achievement of kindergarteners was the Scott Foresman Reading Street Baseline Test. The kindergarten reading baseline test results were used in this study because it is a standardized test required of all kindergarten students across the county. Validity was established for this baseline test through item quality, content alignment, and empirical field-testing (Scott Foresman, n.d.). Reliability was established for this baseline test because it was a selected-response instrument including only multiple-choice test items (Scott Foresman, n.d.). A one-way between-groups ANOVA (Kirkpatrick & Feeney, 2007) was used to test the hypothesis that reading achievement for Imagination Library participants will be significantly different from nonparticipants. The rationale for using an ANOVA test is the statistical test will determine whether there is a difference between the groups. A Spearman correlation (Gravetter & Wallnau, 2005), was used to test the hypotheses of a relationship

11 between the reported frequency of read-aloud sessions with Imagination Library books and reading achievement among kindergarten students as well as a relationship between the length of time in the program and reading achievement. An ANOVA analysis was also used to test the hypotheses of a relationship between reading achievement for male Imagination Library participants and female Imagination Library participants and of a relationship between students eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch and students not eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Research Questions 1. What is the effect of providing children birth to age 5 with one free children’s book in the mail every month on beginning of the year instructional reading levels of kindergarten participants of the Imagination Library compared to kindergarten students who were not participants of the Imagination Library program? 2. What is the effect of providing children birth to age 5 with one free children’s book in the mail every month on beginning of the year instructional reading levels of kindergarten participants of the Imagination Library who qualify for free and reduced- price school lunch compared to kindergarten students that were not participants of the Imagination Library program who qualify for free and reduced-price school lunch? 3. What is the difference in the beginning of the year instructional reading levels of kindergarten male participants of the Imagination Library and beginning of the year instructional reading levels of kindergarten female participants of the Imagination Library?

12 4. What is the difference in the beginning of the year instructional reading levels of kindergarten male participants of the Imagination Library and beginning of the year instructional reading levels of kindergarten males that were not participants of the Imagination Library? 5. What is the difference in the beginning of the year instructional reading levels of kindergarten female participants of the Imagination Library and beginning of the year instructional reading levels of kindergarten females that were not participants of the Imagination Library? 6. What is the relationship between the reported frequency at which the Imagination Library books were read to the children prior to kindergarten registration and beginning of the year instructional reading levels among kindergarten students who were participants of the Imagination Library? 7. What is the relationship between the length of participation in the Imagination Library program prior to kindergarten registration and beginning of the year instructional reading levels among kindergarten students? The independent variable is Imagination Library participation and the dependent variable is reading achievement. The independent variable, participation in the Imagination Library program, is defined as registration during the preschool years and beginning anytime from birth to age 5 that provides children with one free children’s book in the mail every month. The dependent variable, reading achievement, is defined as performance based on a beginning of the year standardized baseline test that measures instructional reading levels and includes a tiered reading placement.

13 Null Hypotheses Hо1. There is no significant difference in the beginning of the year instructional reading levels between the control and treatment group. Hо2. There is no significant difference in the beginning of the year instructional reading levels between the control and treatment group who qualify for free and reduced- price school lunch. Hо3. There is no significant difference in the beginning of the year instructional reading levels between the control and treatment group by gender. Hо4. There is no significant difference between beginning of the year instructional reading levels and reported frequency of book readings in the treatment group. Hо5. There is no significant difference between beginning of the year instructional reading levels and length of participation in the treatment group. Alternative Hypotheses Aо1. The alternative hypothesis for this study states providing children under the age of 5 with one free children’s book in the mail every month will significantly impact the beginning of the year instructional reading levels among kindergarten students. Aо2. Providing children under the age of 5 with one free children’s book in the mail every month will significantly impact the beginning of the year instructional reading levels among kindergarten students who qualify for free and reduced-price school lunch. Aо3. Providing children under the age of 5 with one free children’s book in the mail every month will significantly impact the beginning of the year instructional reading

14 levels by gender among kindergarten students. Aо4. The reported frequency of reading the Imagination Library books to the children prior to kindergarten registration will significantly impact the beginning of the year instructional reading levels among kindergarten students. Aо5. The length of participation in the Imagination Library program prior to kindergarten registration will significantly impact the beginning of the year instructional reading levels among kindergarten students. Theoretical Framework The theoretical basis for this study is Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory. Critical to the theory are the social aspect of learning and the interactions, such as between parent and child. Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development (1962) holds that an adult apprentices a child with assistance and scaffolding during the learning process, as is the case during read-aloud episodes, by modeling the reading process (Commission on Reading, 2005; Lesemen & de Jong, 1998; McLane & McNamee, 1990; Smith, 1997). During read-aloud episodes and shared reading encounters throughout the child’s life, parents scaffold, or support, the child to increasing levels of independence, as the child gradually begins to read independently (Adams, 1990). Applying Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory to the present study, it is expected that Imagination Library participation during the preschool years will effect reading achievement for kindergarten students because parents will have modeled the reading process for their children by reading aloud the books provided by the program.

15 Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory has informed the study of language learning because language learning theorists contend that language is learned from a model and often includes a process of scaffolding (Bruner, 1966; Cambourne, 1988; Danahy & Olson, 2003; Gagne, 1965; Huey, 1908; Oser & Baeriswyl, 2001; Piaget & Inhelder, 1969; Russell, 1990; Vygotsky, 1962). The notion that the adult who reads aloud serves as a model and provides the young child with a foundation for acquiring the skills, motivation, and attitude needed to read independently follows the tenets of language learning models (Adams, 1990; McKay, 1981; Schunk & Zimmerman, 2007; Smith, 1997). This has been applied in the cognitive apprenticeship learning model (Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1989) that teaches through modeling, coaching, and scaffolding (Oser & Baeriswyl, 2001). Vygotsky’s (1978) learning theory as a social process has also been applied by constructivist theorists, holistic approaches to language acquisition, and research on brain development (Adams, 1990; Brooks & Brooks, 1993; Bruner, 1965; Commission on Reading, 2005; Healy, 2001; Honig, 2004; Smith, 1997; Vygotsky, 1978; Walker, 2002) that supports reading aloud to a child. Further, attachment theorists claim that reading to a child binds the family together, soothing both the parents and the child while adding to the bonding between them (Danahy & Olson, 2003). It is expected that Imagination Library participation during the preschool years will effect reading achievement for kindergarten students based on application of language learning theories to the present study.

16 Definition of Terms Baseline test: several subtests comprise the total score on the reading baseline test. The Scott Foresman Reading Street Kindergarten Baseline Test is an assessment of kindergarten children’s knowledge of readiness, letter recognition, phonological awareness, listening comprehension, and concepts of print (Scott Foresman, n.d., p. T4). The primary goal of the Kindergarten Baseline Test is to place children in reading groups “that will meet their instructional needs” (Scott Foresman, n.d., p. T19). Reading groups include advanced, on-level, strategic intervention, and a more intensive Early Reading Intervention program (Scott Foresman, n.d.). Coaching: a literacy coach assists teachers to “deliver skills and content in a manner more suited to helping all students learn” (Koehler, 2008, p. 15). Economically disadvantaged: including students “who are eligible for free or reduced price lunch” (Ohio Department of Education, 2008). Emergent literacy: refers to the reading and writing development and literacy learning occurring during the preschool years (Lonigan & Whitehurst, 1998; Teale & Sulzby, 1992). Imagination Library Participation: registration to receive monthly book mailings is possible until five years of age (GBBF, 2008b). Instructional reading level: as defined as “the point at which a student is about 90 percent accurate in word identification and has about 75 percent or better comprehension” (Miller, 1993, p. 60).

Full document contains 137 pages
Abstract: Very little research has been conducted on the impact of the Imagination Library, a Tennessee based reading program, on student reading achievement. Therefore, the purpose of this cross-sectional explanatory study was to test whether Imagination Library program participation had an impact on reading achievement for kindergarten students from 3 rural elementary schools. The theoretical basis for this study was Vygotsky's sociocultural theory, the process of scaffolding, and language learning models. ANOVA was used to test the hypothesis that reading achievement for participants was significantly different from nonparticipants and was also used to test the hypotheses of relationships between reading achievement and gender and socioeconomic status. Spearman correlation was used to test whether a relationship exists between the reported frequency of read-aloud sessions and achievement as well as a relationship between the length of time in the program and achievement. Findings from this study supported an achievement gap by socioeconomic status. However, findings failed to support a gender achievement gap and that program participation, length of participation, or the reported frequency of read-aloud sessions significantly impacted reading achievement among kindergarten students. A conclusion from this research is that just sending free books to children is not enough. Recommendations for action include registering more lower-income households, enriching the program with supplemental information or materials, and providing opportunities for parent education workshops. The implications for social change include greater awareness of early intervention strategies for reducing the achievement gap and enhancing literacy at an early age.