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Evaluation of a High School Reading Intervention Program

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Julie S Heon
Abstract:
Students who struggle with reading are more likely to do poorly in high school courses and are more likely to leave school before graduation. Students, their families, and educators are interested in improving student reading achievement. Struggling ninth grade readers were the focus of this project study. School leaders desired a formative progress evaluation of the school reading intervention program to determine the effectiveness of the program. The local school reading intervention program included teacher and computer-assisted instruction of reading skills, silent reading, and infrastructure supports of leadership, professional development, and literacy coaching. The conceptual framework for this study is comprised of the components for a successful reading program recommended by a panel of reading experts in their Reading Next report for Carnegie Corporation of New York. The research question addressed the effectiveness of the reading intervention program in improving the comprehension of struggling ninth grade readers. The research design was quasi-experimental, and a regression-discontinuity design (RDD) method was used to analyze the visual and statistical findings from the existing data provided by the school. The results of this study indicated no visual discontinuity at the cutoff and no statistically significant main effect of the reading intervention program. A white paper project provided school leaders with the study findings and four recommendations to improve the program. Implications for positive social change included improved student course performance leading to graduation, opportunities for continuing education, and prospects in the workplace. This study contributes to the literature on high school reading programs. Schools with similar demographics will benefit from the findings and recommendations of this study.

i Table of Contents List of Tables .......................................................................................................................v List of Figures .................................................................................................................... vi Section 1: The Problem ........................................................................................................1 Introduction ....................................................................................................................1 Definition of the Problem ..............................................................................................2 Rationale ........................................................................................................................4 Evidence of the Problem at the Local Level ........................................................... 4 Evidence of the Problem from the Professional Literature ..................................... 6 Definitions......................................................................................................................8 Significance....................................................................................................................9 Guiding/Research Question .........................................................................................12 Review of the Literature ..............................................................................................13 Conceptual Framework ......................................................................................... 14 Role of Reading in High School ........................................................................... 17 Reading Skills ....................................................................................................... 31 Reading Instructional Methods ............................................................................. 44 Program Supports.................................................................................................. 53 High School Reading Programs ............................................................................ 62 Intervention Program ............................................................................................ 67 Research Methods ................................................................................................. 73 Implications..................................................................................................................75

ii Summary ......................................................................................................................76 Section 2: The Methodology ..............................................................................................78 Introduction ..................................................................................................................78 Research Design...........................................................................................................78 Regression-Discontinuity ...................................................................................... 78 Justification ........................................................................................................... 80 Application ............................................................................................................ 81 Program Evaluation .............................................................................................. 82 Setting and Sample ......................................................................................................83 Local ................................................................................................................... 83 Population ............................................................................................................. 84 Sampling ............................................................................................................... 84 Sample Size ........................................................................................................... 85 Participants ............................................................................................................ 87 Sample................................................................................................................... 88 Instrumentation and Materials .....................................................................................88 Instrumentation ..................................................................................................... 89 Reliability .............................................................................................................. 90 Validity ................................................................................................................. 91 Variables ............................................................................................................... 93 Data Collection and Analysis.......................................................................................94 Data Collection ..................................................................................................... 94

iii

Data Analysis ........................................................................................................ 94 Assumptions ...............................................................................................................104 Scope, Delimitations, and Limitations .......................................................................105 Program Evaluation Limitations ................................................................................105 Participants’ Rights ....................................................................................................106 Conclusion .................................................................................................................106 Section 3: The Project ......................................................................................................108 Introduction ................................................................................................................108 Description and Goals ................................................................................................108 Rationale ....................................................................................................................109 Review of the Literature ............................................................................................109 White Paper ......................................................................................................... 120 Formative Evaluation .......................................................................................... 120 READ 180 ........................................................................................................... 120 Direct Instruction ................................................................................................ 120 Implementation ..........................................................................................................119 Proposal for Implementation and Timetable....................................................... 120 Roles and Responsibilities of Student and Others .............................................. 120 Project Evaluation ......................................................................................................120 Implications Including Social Change .......................................................................121 Local Community ............................................................................................... 121 Far-Reaching ....................................................................................................... 122

iv Conclusion .................................................................................................................123 Section 4: Reflections and Conclusions ...........................................................................125 Introduction ................................................................................................................125 Project Strengths ........................................................................................................125 Recommendations for Remediation of Limitations ...................................................129 Scholarship .................................................................................................................132 Project Development and Evaluation .........................................................................134 Leadership and Change ..............................................................................................137 Analysis of Self as Scholar ........................................................................................139 Analysis of Self as Practitioner ..................................................................................141 Analysis of Self as Project Developer .......................................................................142 The Project’s Potential Impact on Social Change......................................................145 Implications, Applications, and Directions for Future Research ...............................147 Conclusion .................................................................................................................150 References ........................................................................................................................153

Appendix A: White Paper ................................................................................................178 Appendix B: Letters of Agreement ..................................................................................212 Curriculum Vitae .............................................................................................................216

v List of Tables

Table 1. Results of MAP Assessment Data by District for Incoming Freshmen to Spartan High School Scoring Below the 40th Percentile ......................................................... 5 Table 2. Key Elements in Programs Designed to Improve Adolescent Literacy Achievement in Middle and High Schools ............................................................... 15 Table 3. Categories for Evidence of Effectiveness ........................................................... 63 Table 4. Concurrent Validity of MAP and State Assessments ......................................... 92 Table 5. Model Summary b of Spartan High School Reading Intervention Program Data with Outliers .............................................................................................................. 97 Table 6. Coefficients a for Spartan High School Reading Intervention Program Data with Outliers ...................................................................................................................... 98 Table 7. Model Sunmmary b of Spartan High School Reading Intervention Program Data without Outliers ...................................................................................................... 101 Table 8. Coefficients a for Spartan High School Reading Intervention Program Data without Outliers ....................................................................................................... 92

vi List of Figures Figure 1. Spartan High School Literacy Intervention Design ..............................................4 Figure 2. Sample regression lines for a treatment effect ...................................................80 Figure 3. Spartan High School reading intervention program data for control and intervention groups with outliers .......................................................................................96 Figure 4. Normal distribution of Spartan High School reading intervention program data .. ............................................................................................................................................99 Figure 5. Spartan High School reading intervention program data ...................................99 Figure 6. Spartan High School reading intervention data for control and intervention groups with outliers removed ...........................................................................................100 Figure 7. Normal distribution of Spartan High School reading intervention program data with outliers removed ......................................................................................................103 Figure 8. Spartan High School reading intervention program data with outliers removed ... ..........................................................................................................................................103

1 Section 1: The Problem Introduction Literacy is the foundational process of a student’s education from kindergarten through high school; yet, there are struggling readers in high schools. As many as 27% of 12th grade students cannot read text necessary for their success in high school courses (National Center for Educational Statistics [NCES], 2007). Assessment, documentation, and analysis of student literacy achievement must continue throughout the school years (Booth & Rowsell, 2002). Reading and writing instruction must continue through high school with targeted intervention for students who struggle with literacy (National Association of Secondary School Principals [NASSP], 2005). Poor literacy affects many people in all areas of the United States and is not limited by economic or social conditions, ethnicity, or geographic locations (NASSP, 2005). Researchers have found students to be frustrated by poor comprehension of reading material and by doing poorly in course work because of weak reading skills (Booth, 2006; Lesesne, 2006; Tovani, 2004; Wilson, 1999). Similarly, teachers at Spartan High School have found that many students who fail courses also have reading difficulties (R. Paquette, personal communication, August 12, 2009). Vacca (2006) noted a link between students who failed classes and their struggles with reading. Students who repeatedly fall below grade level in reading expectations are increasingly frustrated by course expectations, in need of remediation, and may be at risk of dropping out of school (NASSP, 2005). Various pedagogical approaches are recognized to improve the ability of students

2 to understand high school reading material. High school students need a collection of reading strategies that include prereading activities, fluency, and word study to help them make meaning of text (Rasinski et al., 2005; Tovani, 2004; Vacca, 2006). Students need to make connections to self, to the world, and to other texts in order to associate new information with prior knowledge (Keene & Zimmerman, 1997). Furthermore, students must learn to apply information they read to new learning situations (Tovani, 2004). These skills have been shown to help students manage the reading requirements at the high school level with the associated emotional and cognitive demands. (Vacca, 2006). The varied and complex nature of high school level material necessitates instructional approaches that help students make meaning from their reading (Rasinski et al., 2005; Tovani, 2004). Reading intervention is needed for high school students. Definition of the Problem The local problem of whether the Spartan High School reading intervention program effectively improved student reading is the focus of this study. Several students assigned to the program did not improve their reading comprehension scores (R. Paquette, personal communication, August 12, 2009). The school developed a reading program with the skills and instructional methods of READ 180 at its core and infrastructure supports of leadership, professional development, and literacy coaching. The program targeted ninth grade students who were unable to comprehend high school text (M. Reardon, personal communication, October 15, 2009). Many of these students did not achieve proficiency in course work; in fact, many of the 33% of students that

3 failed one or more courses struggled with reading comprehension (M. Reardon, personal communication, October 15, 2009). Students attend this area public high school from four nearby rural towns, each with its own independent district of preschool through grade 8 schools. No vertically coordinated curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grade exists for the schools and, therefore, reading instruction and intervention varies from school to school. Some students are adequately prepared by the sending schools for high school course work and others students are not prepared (M. Reardon, personal communication, October 15, 2009). Spartan High School created the reading intervention program in order to provide reading instruction for low achieving freshmen, in addition to the freshman English course (M. Reardon, personal communication, October 15, 2009). The school faced the problem of determining the effectiveness of the reading intervention program. The program combined infrastructure supports, instructional methods, and reading skills (see Figure 1). Selected ninth graders participate in the Spartan High School reading intervention program. The students were assigned to a reading intervention class, referred to as the Literacy Workshop course, in order to improve their reading achievement. Reading intervention classes are limited to 15 students in order to provide differentiated instruction. The curriculum design of the Spartan High School reading intervention program required that each class be divided into three smaller groups that rotate among the three activities of direct teacher instruction, computer-assisted instruction, and independent

4 silent reading. In order to increase student reading achievement, the school needed to know the effectiveness of the reading intervention program and how it might be improved. The white paper project included recommendations for the program. Infrastructure supports Instructional methods Reading skills

Figure 1 . Spartan High School literacy intervention design. Adapted from personal communication, R. Paquette, August 12, 2009.

Teacher directed

instruction

Computer- assisted instruction

Independent silent reading

Leadership

Professional development Literacy coaching

Comprehension Background knowledge

Fluency Vocabulary Development Literacy Workshop students

Rationale Evidence of the Problem at the Local Level The problem of low levels of literacy at Spartan High School affected approximately 27% to 39% of the incoming ninth grade population during the 4 years of 2007 to 2010. During the last 3 years, 39%, 35%, and 35% of students respectively scored below the 40th percentile based upon student scores from the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment at the end of the eighth grade, the year before entering Spartan High School (see Table 1).

5 Table 1

Results of MAP Assessment Data by District for Incoming Freshmen to Spartan High School Scoring Below the 40th Percentile

Incoming Ninth Grade Year

School 2007 2008 2009 2010

Anderson 37% (22/60) 40% (27/68) 55% (35/60) 42% (29/69) Central 45% (18/40) 21% (7/34) 37% (10/27) 32% (10/31) Emerson 22% (15/67) 40% (20/50) 25% (14/56) 44% (20/45) Palmer 18% (20/109) 47% (40/85) 30% (26/88) 25% (22/88) All 27% (75/276) 39% (96/244) 35% (85/245) 35% (81/233)

Note. N/N = scoring below 40 th percentile / total students. Adapted from personal communication, M. Reardon, October 15, 2009.

The MAP assessment serves as the data collection instrument for determining student reading achievement. Each of the schools feeding into Spartan High School adopted the MAP assessment in 2006 as the local standardized assessment to track student progress (M. Reardon, personal communication, October 15, 2009). The MAP is a computer-based assessment designed to determine the educational growth of a student between test administrations (NWEA, n.d.a). The MAP assessment utilizes the Rasch

6 Unit (RIT) to measure reading achievement. The RIT scores are also associated with percentiles based upon norms by time of school year such as beginning of school year, middle of school year, or end of school year (NWEA, n.d.a). Spartan High School utilizes the 40th percentile as the benchmark for determining whether a student is adequately prepared for high school level reading. This determination takes into consideration the information from NWEA (2009) that students scoring at or below the 33rd percentile are low achieving and those scoring below the 40th percentile perform in the low average range. In addition, the Spartan High School criterion of the 40 th percentile is based upon correlations with the state assessment for proficiency, lexile levels associated with high school reading material, and course performance (R. Paquette, personal communication, August 12, 2009). The rationale for this study was that school leaders needed to determine whether the students who participated in the Spartan High School reading intervention program, based upon their low levels of literacy, made adequate reading gains. The school has not conducted a formative progress evaluation prior to this study. This project study provided the data analysis for the school and recommendations for future programming. Evidence of the Problem from the Professional Literature A number of high school students in the United States struggle to read and understand high school course material (NCES, 2007). Students with low literacy levels have trouble with schoolwork in all content areas (Ferguson, 2006a). The most frequently reported reasons for students leaving high school without a diploma is the lack of literacy skills needed to keep up with their course work (Ferguson, 2006a).

7 Several statistics highlight the problem of struggling readers in high school. Students entering grade 9 in the lowest 20% of reading achievement are 20 times more likely to drop out of school (Forewarned is Forearmed, 2007). A NASSP (2009) reading study revealed that, while the mean for ninth grade students who eventually graduated was the 59 th percentile, the mean for eventual dropouts was the 43 rd percentile. The students with lower reading skills were in greater danger of not graduating. The National Center for Educational Statistics ([NCES], 2007) reported that student literacy was decreasing. The percentage of 12 th grade students performing at or above the basic level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress decreased from 80% in 1992 to 73% in 2005, the last year of testing until the 2010 report. According to the NCES (2007), the basic level is is less than proficient ability for a grade level. There can be finanically significant consequences for students who do not earn a diploma. The Center for Labor Market Studies ([CLMS], 2009) reported that in 2007, 16% of 16-24 year olds in the United States left school without a diploma, nearly 6.2 million people. This represented significantly lower mean annual earnings of $11,031 than for those obtaining a high school diploma with mean annual earnings of $23,059. (CLMS, 2009). Graduates therefore earned more than 50% more than those without a high school diploma. High school students need to remember and reuse information from assigned reading (Tovani, 2004). Students who fall further and further below grade level in reading expectations are increasingly frustrated, in greater danger of dropping out, and in need of intensive remediation (NASSP, 2005). Leaders of Spartan High School are

8 interested in determining that students who are provided reading intervention meet their benchmarks for improvement. Definitions Background knowledge: Background knowledge, also referred to as prior knowledge, is the information related to the topic and other usefully related information, even if marginally related, that will support student understanding (Langer, 1981). Computer-assisted instruction: Computer-assisted instruction consists of learning activities provided to students via computer technology, such as drill-and- practice, tutorials, or simulations (Cotton, 1991). Content area: A content area refers to a school subject area, such as science, social studies, math, or English (Alger, 2007). Direct instruction: For the purpose of this study, direct instruction involves learning activities performed by a teacher with students; activities include imparting knowledge, modeling, and strategy instruction (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). Fluency: Reading fluency is the ability to read orally with speed, accuracy, and proper expression (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHHD], 2000). Lexile score: A lexile score is the level at which a reader will likely read text at approximately 75% comprehension (MetaMetrics, Inc., 2010.). Literacy: Literacy is the ability to understand and create different kinds of text (Johannessen & McCann, 2009). Although other forms of literacy such as cultural literacy appear in the literature, literacy is limited to reading and writing

9 for the purposes of this study. Literacy coach: A literacy coach is an experienced and highly skilled educator who nurtures and supports teachers in order for teachers to improve their classroom instruction of literacy (Davis, 2008). Reading comprehension: Reading comprehension is the process of understanding written language (Snow, 2002). Reading Intervention: A reading intervention is one or more techniques, strategies, programs, and supports intended to prevent or remediate reading difficulties (Snow, 2002; Tummer, 2007). Regression-discontinuity: Regression-discontinuity is a pretest-posttest, two-group research method using a cutoff score to assign participants to either the treatment or control group (Trochim, 1994).

Significance This program evaluation of a reading intervention for ninth grade students at a public high school is significant for students as well as reading teachers, subject area teachers, school administrators, and scholars. The analysis of the Spartan High School reading achievement data will determine whether students who struggle to read high school course material benefit from the reading intervention program at the school. The program evaluation will determine whether it is beneficial to continue the program as designed or to revise the program in order to improve the performance of future students. Improved reading achievement will positively affect course performance and graduation for students.

10 Reading teachers and content area teachers will benefit from this study. Reading teachers will gain information regarding the instructional methods and reading skills that influence students’ reading ability at the high school level. Teachers could use information from this study to design instruction. Subject area teachers will benefit from having students with adequate reading skills to comprehend course material and consequently help students achieve the rigorous learning called for by accreditation associations and Breaking Ranks II (NASSP, 2004), a nationally recognized guide for high school program improvement. The AEE (2006) reported that understanding course content links directly to reading and writing ability. Several challenges confronting school leaders are addressed by this study. The achievement mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 require each student to score at a proficient level in reading by 2014 with 100% of students graduating within four years. In their role as an instructional leader, school administrators are essential to effective high school literacy programs through leadership, professional development, and coaching. (Booth & Rowsell, 2002; NASSP, 2005). The findings of this study will assist Spartan High School in evaluating its intervention program. The project will help the school to determine which, if any, revisions to the program are needed to improve the program for students who struggle with high school level reading. The findings of this study will provide school leaders from other schools with information for making decisions about reading intervention programs for their students and what program components will work for their school setting (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). With the need for Response to Invention as required by the reauthorization of the

11 Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), schools may use components of the Spartan High School program and results of this study to develop or revise a reading intervention program. Scholars in the field will benefit from the research regarding high school reading instruction. Although there is a great deal of research on literacy for younger students, my review of the literature discovered considerably less research on high school reading instruction. The research of reading strategies for younger students is extended by this study (Ferguson, 2006b; Fisher & Ivey, 2006; Hirsch, 2006; Ivey & Fisher, 2006; Kelly, 2006; Klecker & Pollock, 2005) by focusing on the strategies that have an effect upon the reading performance of high school students. The unique combination of elements related to reading instruction and school infrastructure of the Spartan High School intervention program extends the literacy research. This study is significant for social justice through improved student course performance, diploma acquisition, workplace opportunities, and continuing education (Alliance for Excellent Education [AEE], 2006; Greenleaf & Hinchman, 2009). In particular, disadvantaged students who frequently do not have the parental or environmental support for early and continuing literacy growth will benefit (Booth & Rowsell, 2002). There may also be benefits to society through reduced social services. A student who does not graduate from high school is 32% more likely to receive benefits from a public welfare program (Belfield & Levin, 2007) and more than 59% of federal and state inmates are not high school graduates (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2006).

12 Guiding/Research Question The central research question for the data collection and analysis for this study is the following: How effective is the reading intervention program in improving the comprehension of struggling ninth grade readers at Spartan High School? The guiding question for the project was the following: In what ways is the Spartan High School reading program effective and how could the program be improved? The problem of student reading deficits at Spartan High School is also faced by schools across the United States. Reports by the National Center for Educational Statistics (2007), National Reading Panel (NICHHD, 2000), and National Association of State Boards of Education (2006) described the extent of the problem of struggling readers with suggestions for remediation. Because Spartan High School receives many ninth grade students from four feeder schools who read below high school expectations, the school developed a reading intervention program and needs to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. There is less research on high school reading intervention programs than for reading programs in the early grades. This quasi-experimental study, using a regression- discontinuity design (RDD), will assist the school by analyzing the existing data from the school to determine the extent of student reading improvement. The school could then determine if the combination of elements in the reading intervention program resulted in the level of improved student reading it deems appropriate. This evaluation project resulted in a white paper to the principal, superintendent, and school board that detailed

13 the study findings and provided recommendations for the reading intervention program. High schools with similar demographics will also benefit from my findings and project. Review of the Literature The role of reading for high school students as well as the reading skills, instructional methods, and school supports for continued reading development of students are contained in this literature review. Research studies and professional literature relate to the following research question: How effective is the reading intervention program in improving the comprehension of struggling ninth grade readers at Spartan High School? This subsection includes the conceptual framework for this study, the role of reading in high school, reading skills, reading instructional methods, reading program supports, high school reading programs, and research methods. The section contains various research outcomes. The role of reading subsection includes the findings of high school reading with a focus on content area reading, as well as the importance of engagement and motivation for students. The review of reading skills includes the areas of reading comprehension, background knowledge, fluency, and vocabulary development. This review is focused on reading instructional methods including direct explicit teacher instruction, computer-assisted instruction, and independent silent reading. The subsection on reading program supports includes research on leadership, professional development, and reading coaching as infrastructure supports for reading programming. The findings from the Slavin, Cheung, Groff, and Lake’s (2008) meta-analysis provided the basis for exploring several high school reading programs. The research methods

14 subsection focuses on the method of choice for this study, regression-discontinuity, as well as the variety of methods used in other reading studies. This literature review provides the basis for the study methodology found in section 3. The saturation of the literature was accomplished with database searches, including the use of the Educational Resource Information Center [ERIC], EBSCOhost, Sage Journals online, Dissertation Abstracts International, Walden dissertations, and International Reading Association journals. Searches were limited to the last 5 years and Boolean terms included reading, literacy, READ 180, reading instruction, reading programs, and regresson-discontinuity design. Previous studies provided a multitude of references, particularly references from the NICHHD (2000) National Reading Panel report and the Handbook of Reading Research (Kamil, Mosenthal, Pearson, & Barr, 2000) . These sources provided a rich body of information regarding the role of reading, reading skills, instructional methods, and reading program supports that substantiate the need for reading instruction at the high school level. Conceptual Framework The Biancarosa and Snow (2006) report provided the framework for this study. The panel proposed that 15 elements of instruction and infrastructure (see Table 2) should act as a foundation for improving literacy. Several of these elements are reviewed in this literature review.

15 Table 2

Key Elements in Programs Designed to Improve Adolescent Literacy Achievement in Middle and High Schools

Instructional Improvement Infrastructure Improvement

Direct, explicit comprehension instruction Effective instructional principles embedded in content Motivation and self-directed learning Text-based collaborative learning Strategic tutoring Diverse texts Intensive writing A technology component Ongoing formative assessment of students

Extended time for literacy Professional development Ongoing summative assessment of students and programs Teacher teams Leadership A comprehensive and coordinated literacy program

Note: Adapted from Reading next - A vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy: A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York (2nd ed.), by Biancarosa & Snow, 2006. Copyright 2006 by Alliance for Excellent Education.

The Reading Next panel (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006) emphasized that of the 15 program elements, there are three nonnegotiable elements for an effective literacy

16 program that include professional development, ongoing formative assessment of students, and ongoing summative assessment of students and programs. The panel contended that proper teacher preparation and the maintenance of a literacy initiative require high quality professional development (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). Ongoing formative assessment is needed to inform teachers if and to what extent the students are improving their literacy skills so that instruction may be adapted in ways to maximize improvement (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). Teacher accountability, program effectiveness, and overall student growth is measured through summative assessment (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). The panel also recommended that practitioners integrate several of the 12 other elements in ways that work together best for the school (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). The panel cautioned that there is no single combination of elements that is best for all students and all settings (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). Rather, the unique needs of struggling readers should determine the combination of elements that is most effective for the setting (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). The panel recommended the implementation of different combinations in an effort to find the optimum mix (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). Furthermore, the panel emphasized that, while improving student achievement for large numbers of students is an immediate goal, simultaneously, researchers must strive to improve the research base (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). The desire is to balance the pursuit of these goals without expense to either (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). An examination of the Spartan High School reading intervention program determined which components comprised the program.

17 The local reading intervention program at Spartan High School, which was the focus of this study, utilizes 10 of the 15 components of Reading Next (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). It includes the following: (a) direct, explicit instruction; (b) motivation and self-directed learning; (c) diverse texts; (d) technology; (e) ongoing formative assessment of students; (f) extended time for literacy; (g) professional development; (h) ongoing summative assessment of students and programs; (i) leadership; and (j) a comprehensive and coordinated literacy program (R. Paquette, personal communication, August 12, 2009). This study will help the school determine if the combination of elements in the reading intervention program design results in improved student literacy and whether to adjust the design. Role of Reading in High School Students require strong reading skills to be successful in high school and beyond (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). The following discussion explores the problems and needs faced by struggling high school readers as well as findings that suggested approaches to improve the reading ability of high school students. This subsection reviews the importance of content area reading in addition to the significance of engagement and motivation of students. Noble High School in Maine documented an increase of proficient level student scores from 64% to 84% on the Maine Learning Results state assessment in one year, primarily due to implementation of direct reading instruction (Perks, 2006). Over a 2-year period, this school implemented a three-tier reading initiative including content area classroom level reading, small-group direct instruction, and one-to-one tutoring (Perks,

Full document contains 233 pages
Abstract: Students who struggle with reading are more likely to do poorly in high school courses and are more likely to leave school before graduation. Students, their families, and educators are interested in improving student reading achievement. Struggling ninth grade readers were the focus of this project study. School leaders desired a formative progress evaluation of the school reading intervention program to determine the effectiveness of the program. The local school reading intervention program included teacher and computer-assisted instruction of reading skills, silent reading, and infrastructure supports of leadership, professional development, and literacy coaching. The conceptual framework for this study is comprised of the components for a successful reading program recommended by a panel of reading experts in their Reading Next report for Carnegie Corporation of New York. The research question addressed the effectiveness of the reading intervention program in improving the comprehension of struggling ninth grade readers. The research design was quasi-experimental, and a regression-discontinuity design (RDD) method was used to analyze the visual and statistical findings from the existing data provided by the school. The results of this study indicated no visual discontinuity at the cutoff and no statistically significant main effect of the reading intervention program. A white paper project provided school leaders with the study findings and four recommendations to improve the program. Implications for positive social change included improved student course performance leading to graduation, opportunities for continuing education, and prospects in the workplace. This study contributes to the literature on high school reading programs. Schools with similar demographics will benefit from the findings and recommendations of this study.