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The effect of guided reading instruction on reading achievement

Dissertation
Author: Vanda Lea Underwood
Abstract:
Although reading achievement correlates highly with a student's ability to do well in school, not all children achieve in reading. The purpose of this mixed-method study was to investigate whether reading instruction provided in small groups at the child's own reading level, known as guided reading instruction, would result in significant improvement in the reading achievement of fourth- and fifth-grade students. Teachers' commitment to and perception of guided reading instruction were also examined in the study district. The hypothesis was: Have student reading scores improved on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) in 2007 and 2008, after implementing guided reading instruction in the 2006-2007 school year? There were three research questions:, Do teachers believe guided reading instruction is an effective instructional approach to improve ISAT scores? How does teacher commitment to the instructional approach affect the success of guided reading instruction? What instructional skills and strategies are required to develop an effective reading program? Chi-square goodness-of-fit and paired-samples t tests were statistical tests employed in the quantitative portion of the study. Surveys and focus groups were used to investigate teacher commitment and perception of guided reading instruction in the qualitative portion of the study. Quantitative results indicated there is a significant correlation between guided reading instruction and improvement on ISAT scores, when students are examined over time. Qualitative results indicated teachers were committed to guided reading instruction, and perceived guided reading instruction benefitted students. Further, teachers recommended additional training in guided reading instruction, coupled with additional staff to provide guided reading instruction, would help maximize results. Preliminary results did not show significant improvement after 1 year of guided reading instruction. However, when the scores of the same students were followed over a 2-year period, significant results were noted. The most salient finding of this research reinforced the notion that the validity of any new program is onerous to judge in its inception year. Practitioners may benefit from future research that tracks the same students over an expanded period of time as well as the establishment of quality assurance measures to ensure the program continues to be administered with fidelity.

Table of Contents List of Tables .................................................................................................................... vii Chapter I – Introduction ...................................................................................................... 1 Background of Study .............................................................................................. 1 Problem Statement .................................................................................................. 5 Purpose of the Study ............................................................................................... 7 Rationale for Study ................................................................................................. 9 Independent Variable ............................................................................................ 12 Dependent Variable .............................................................................................. 13 Hypothesis............................................................................................................. 13 Research Questions ............................................................................................... 13 Limitations of the Study........................................................................................ 14 Participant characteristics. ........................................................................ 14 Mortality. .................................................................................................. 15 Location. ................................................................................................... 16 Instrumentation decay. .............................................................................. 17 Testing....................................................................................................... 17 History....................................................................................................... 17 Maturation. ................................................................................................ 18 Attitude of participants. ............................................................................ 18 Regression. ................................................................................................ 19 Definition of Terms............................................................................................... 20 Summary ............................................................................................................... 22 Chapter II – Review of Literature ..................................................................................... 24

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Historical Underpinnings in Reading Research .................................................... 26 National Reading Panel Recommendations .......................................................... 30 Phonemic awareness instruction. .............................................................. 31 Phonics ...................................................................................................... 34 Fluency. ..................................................................................................... 37 Vocabulary ................................................................................................ 41 Comprehension. ........................................................................................ 47 Teacher Education and Reading Instruction ......................................................... 52 Professional Development and Teacher Effectiveness ......................................... 54 Teacher Perception and Commitment to Change ................................................. 56 Guided Reading Instruction .................................................................................. 58 Summary ............................................................................................................... 63 Chapter III – Methodology ............................................................................................... 64 Participants ............................................................................................................ 65 Sampling Procedure .............................................................................................. 66 Research Design Procedure .................................................................................. 67 Instrumentation ..................................................................................................... 69 Statistical Treatment of Data ................................................................................ 70 Chapter IV – Results ......................................................................................................... 72 Analysis of Data – Quantitative ............................................................................ 73 Analysis of Data – Qualitative Survey Questions................................................. 77 Analysis of Data – Qualitative Survey Narrative Responses................................ 80 Analysis of Data – Qualitative – Focus Group Responses ................................... 82 Summary ............................................................................................................... 86

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Chapter V – Discussion .................................................................................................... 88 Internal Validity .................................................................................................... 90 External Validity ................................................................................................... 90 Connection of Literature to Findings .................................................................... 90 Implications of Quantitative Results ..................................................................... 92 Implications of Qualitative Results ....................................................................... 93 Implications for Effective Reading Instruction in Schools ................................... 94 Answering the Research Questions ...................................................................... 96 Recommendations for Practice-Based on Findings .............................................. 98 Conclusion .......................................................................................................... 101 References ....................................................................................................................... 103 Appendix A – Guided Reading Survey .......................................................................... 115 Appendix B – Focus Group Questions ........................................................................... 117 Appendix C – IRB .......................................................................................................... 120 Appendix D – Superintendent Permission Letter ........................................................... 121 Vitae ................................................................................................................................ 122

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List of Tables Table 1: Illinois Standards Achievement Test Scores for Reading……………. 8 Table 2: Four Types of Words to Teach Explicitly…………………………….. 45 Table 3: Causal–Comparative Design………………………………………….. 68 Table 4: ISAT Scores in the Meets or Exceeds Categories……………………. 73 Table 5: Survey Results………………………………………………………… 77

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Key to Abbreviations AYP Adequate Yearly Progress DRA2 Developmental Reading Assessment FCRR Florida Center for Reading Research ISAT Illinois Standards Achievement Test ISBE Illinois State Board of Education NAEP National Assessment of Educational Progress NCLB No Child Left Behind NICHD National Institute of Child Health and Human Development NRC Nation’s Report Card NRP National Reading Panel USDE U.S. Department of Education

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Chapter I – Introduction Background of Study In the field of education, what crucial element helps ensure the future success of a child in his or her educational journey? A publication from the 1980s provides an explicit answer to that question. In 1985 the Report of the Commission on Reading, Becoming a Nation of Readers, stated, “Reading is a basic life skill. It is a cornerstone for a child’s success in school and, indeed, throughout life” (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985, p. 1). Snow, Burns, and Griffin (1998) discovered that children who read well in the early grades are far more successful in later years, and those who fall behind often stay behind when it comes to academic achievement. In 2003 the U.S. Department of Education’s (USDE) report, No Child Left Behind: A Toolkit for Teachers, stated, Reading opens the door to learning about math, history, science, literature, geography, and much more. Thus, young capable readers can take advantage of other opportunities (such as reading for pleasure) and develop confidence in their own abilities. On the other hand, those students who cannot read well are much more likely to drop out of school and be limited to low-paying jobs throughout their lives. Reading is undeniably critical to success in today’s society. (p. 28) Further validation of the vital role that reading plays in a child’s overall success in school was also cited by the USDE’s report in 2005: “Basic proficiency in reading and mathematics is a foundation for later success in schooling” (USDE, 2005, ¶ 1). For over a half of a century, researchers, educators, and stakeholders of public education have debated the achievement crisis in America’s public schools. Reading achievement, or lack thereof, has been widely scrutinized. In 1955 Rudolf Flesch sparked

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a major controversy with the publication Why Johnny Can’t Read. In 1967 Jeanne Chall further fanned the flames with Learning to Read: The Great Debate. Initially, Chall (1967) desired to “conduct a critical analysis of existing research comparing different approaches to beginning reading. . . . to salvage what we already knew. . . . and to help point up specific gaps in our knowledge” (p. 5). However, the backlash that ensued became widely known as the reading wars, igniting a national debate over the role of phonics versus whole language as the pathway to literacy attainment. Phonics proponents believe children learn to read by sounding out words, whereas whole-language proponents believe in immersing readers in texts rather than focusing on individual words. In the early seventies the National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983) began analyzing the educational condition in our country. In 1983 after more than a decade of research, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform was published. This document declared “23 million adults are functionally illiterate by the simplest tests of everyday reading, writing, and comprehension” (“Indicators at Risk” section). The Commission further concluded, “about 13 percent of all 17-year-olds in the United States can be considered functionally illiterate . . . and among minority youth it may run as high as 40 percent” (p. 3). In essence, a large majority of students were exiting school without having attained reading and writing skills necessary to function in life. Twenty years later the Koret Task Force launched a study to determine if our nation was still at risk. The findings of this task force were also rather bleak. Peterson (Ed.) (2003) reported the findings of the Koret Task Force in Our Schools and Our

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Future . . . are we still at risk? The report claimed, “test scores were at basically the same level as in 1970” (p. 7). It further stated, Very scant attention had paid to the K-8 years, seeing them as providing a reasonably successful level of basic skills, when in fact many children were failing to gain the fundamental knowledge they would need to continue learning in subsequent years. (pp. 8–9) The Koret Task Force’s (2003) research validated the necessity of acquiring a strong foundation in reading in the primary years of schooling if a student is to meet the rigorous challenges of the upper grades. The culmination of these arguments gave birth to a number of governmentally funded committees and panels over the next several years, such as The National Commission on Excellence in Education, The Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children (Snow et al., 1998), The National Academy of Education, and The Center for the Study of Reading. Each of these panels and committees were charged with the mission of studying all facets of reading. The findings of these panels subsequently defined the state of reading education in the United States over the next several years. As education in the United States continued to garner criticism from several sources, reading as a public health concern also became a national issue. As a result, Congress asked the Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), in conjunction with the Secretary of Education, to convene a national panel. Thus the National Reading Panel (NRP) was born. The mission of the panel was twofold: assessing the existing level of knowledge in reading instruction and

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examining the effectiveness of the various approaches to teaching reading. The NICHD along with the NRP (NICHD, 2000) examined the issue of illiteracy. They deemed illiteracy a major public health concern because of the profound impact it has on the quality of life. Kaminski and Good (1996) had previously discovered a connection between poor readers and a number of social problems including increased high school dropout rates, delinquency, teenage pregnancy, and unemployment. Good, Simmons, and Smith (1998) also noted that there was a correlation between low reading achievement and many behavioral issues that were often manifested in the form of aggressiveness, hyperactivity, hopelessness, and low self-esteem on the part of students. The findings of the NRP (NICHD, 2000) were published in a report revealing the importance of acquiring literacy skills early in students’ primary school years. If students do not develop literacy skills by third grade, it is highly unlikely they will ever close the achievement gap with their peers (Grigg, Daane, Jin, & Campbell, 2003). In response to these findings, President George W. Bush signed into law The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2003 (NCLB Act, 2003). NCLB allowed schools to begin immediate implementation of the panel’s recommendations, setting a clear standard for American education. McKenzie (2002) stated, “with the advent of NCLB, balanced literacy is the USDE’s prescription for bringing together the best of reading research from both philosophies [whole-language and phonics]” (p. 2). One of the major provisions of this law was the requirement that every child in every school would be performing at grade level in the basic subjects of reading and math by the year 2014 (NCLB Act, 2003). As cited in Opposing Viewpoints (Williams, 2005), in a televised address to the nation on June 10, 2003, President George W. Bush, stated,

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Fads came and fads went while students were passed from grade to grade, no matter what they did or did not learn. And as a result, national tests showed that fewer than 1 in 3 fourth graders were reading well and that only 4 in 10 high school seniors were skilled at reading. Under the NCLB, every student in this country will be held to high standards, and every school will be held accountable for results. Every child in America will learn and no child will be left behind. . . . (p. 156) In 2008 the USDE published A Nation Accountable: Twenty-five Years After A Nation at Risk, which stated, “If we were ‘at risk’ in 1983, we are at even greater risk now. . . . our education system is not keeping pace with growing demands” (USDE, 2008, Executive Summary section). It further stated, “We remain a nation at risk but are also now a nation informed, a nation accountable, and a nation that recognizes there is much work to be done” (Executive Summary section). Researchers are asking if NCLB (NCLB Act, 2003) has been successful in ushering in the changes that are desperately needed in education. In summary, research has widely documented that reading achievement is the most influential determinant of a child’s educational success; yet, large gaps still remain for many children in the United States. With the adoption of NCLB (NCLB Act, 2003), reading achievement has once again been brought to the forefront, capturing the attention of all educators, students, parents, and stakeholders in public education. Problem Statement In elementary school the major focus of primary level (k–3) instruction is teaching children to read. As students transition to the intermediate grades, in particular

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fourth- and fifth-grades, the focus shifts from students learning to read to students reading for the purpose of learning or gaining new information. In 1999 the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reported that 38% of all fourth-grade students in the nation were unable to read or write at their current grade level. In 2002, according to the NAEP, only 31% of the nation’s fourth graders performed at or above the proficient level (Allen, McClellan, & Stoeckel, 2005). Prior to these findings, in 1985 the NAEP conducted the Young Adult Literacy Assessment. The results of this assessment were published in a report, Literacy: Profiles of America’s Young Adults (Kirsch and Jungeblut, 1986). According to the report, there are 25 million Americans who cannot read or write at all and approximately 45 million Americans who are functional illiterates. Adults who are functionally illiterate read words adequately, but they do not comprehend meaning, synthesize the information contained, or use the information to make decisions. In 1992 a follow-up survey, the National Adult Literacy Survey was conducted. In 2003 yet another survey, the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), was completed. Compiled results from the latter two surveys showed little improvement on the issue of illiteracy (Donahue, Daane, & Grigg, 2003). These results confirm the findings of Shaywitz et al. (1999), who concluded that students who are behind in elementary stay behind. It also confirmed the research of the USDE (Grigg et al., 2003), who determined that students who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade never catch up to their peers. In summary, research has documented that intermediate students are often at-risk in their literacy development; therefore, it is imperative that students begin receiving

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quality instruction in the primary years. Without research-based instructional methods and/or interventions in the primary years of schooling, intermediate students who have not mastered the basic concepts of reading attainment may be doomed to a lifetime of functional illiteracy. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to determine whether the implementation of guided reading instruction for students in fourth and fifth grade, was successful for improving reading achievement in a school district referred to in this study as District B. Much like the nationwide trend of low test scores in fourth grade (Grigg et al., 2003), the administration in District B observed a similar achievement gap. With the inception of the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) in the spring of 2000, students were originally tested in reading in the third-, fifth-, and eighth-grades only. As students transitioned from third-grade to intermediate grades, a decline in reading scores traditionally occurred. As shown in Table 1, there has been a decline in the percentage of students whose reading scores were classified as either “meeting” or “exceeding” state expectations on the ISAT. Beginning in 2003, this is particularly evident when examining third-grade scores compared to fifth-grade scores. It is important to note that ISAT reading tests were not administered to fourth-grade students prior to 2006, resulting in no data to compare from third-grade to fourth-grade until 2006, when a decline is then noted.

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Table 1 Illinois Standards Achievement Test Scores for Reading in District B Percentage of Students Meeting or Exceeding

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006 3 rd Grade

61% 66% 65.8% 72.3% 79% 4 th Grade N/A N/A N/A N/A 70.7% 5 th Grade 61% 61.8% 58.4% 59.7% 68.8%

As previously stated, the reading scores of intermediate students nationwide have received much attention. Research documented that a child who was not reading at grade level by the end of third grade had a jeopardized chance of continued success in school (Grigg et al., 2003). Tovani (2004) stated, “learning to read doesn’t end in the elementary grades. Reading becomes more complex as students move into middle grades . . . and teachers need to help students understand difficult text” (p. 5). In addition to the subject matter being more complex, another daunting task intermediate and middle school teachers face is the necessity of covering this increased subject matter all within a very limited amount of time in the school day. Students have a limited amount of time to actually digest the information they are taking in (Tovani, 2004). Further evidence of declining scores in intermediate grades was documented by The Nation’s Report Card (NRC) (2007). The NRC informs the public about the academic achievement of elementary and secondary students in the United States. Report Cards communicate the findings of the NAEP, a continuing and nationally representative

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measure of achievement in reading over time. According to the NRC (2007), 33% of fourth graders were below basic levels, while 67% of fourth graders were below proficient levels in reading scores. According to the American Federation of Teachers (2004), there is no other skill taught in school that is more important than reading. Therefore, teaching children to read by the end of third grade must be the foremost task of all elementary school teachers. The achievement gap in intermediate grades will then be eliminated. Rationale for Study District B is a small urban district with a total population of approximately 2,800 students. Housed in six school buildings, the district is comprised of two elementary schools, two intermediate schools, one middle school, and one high school. The ethnic makeup of the district is approximately 95% White, with the other 5% of the student body comprised of Black, Hispanic, Asian, and multiracial ethnicities. The Village of Bethalto has approximately 9,500 residents and has typically been classified as a bedroom community. The village is largely comprised of single-family homes. There are no large industries or manufacturing plants housed within the city limits; therefore, property taxes are the major source of funding for the school. District B encompasses not only the children of the Bethalto residents, but the unincorporated area to the east, known as Cottage Hills, and the unincorporated areas to the west, commonly known as Moro and Meadowbrook, as well. These unincorporated areas are largely comprised of rental homes and apartments. Combined with an aging population of village residents, this factor has added a more mobile and transient factor to the existing population of students in District B over the last 5 years.

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With the recent completion of an interstate extension, coupled with a large amount of undeveloped farmland to the north and west of the city, Bethalto may soon experience an increase in their school population. City officials have been working to develop a long-range plan for future growth. Part of this plan includes looking at the impact that rapid growth would have on the existing schools. For the last several years the reputation of District B has been exemplary. Since the inception of NCLB (NCLB Act, 2003), District B has successfully achieved adequate yearly progress (AYP) each year. This rich heritage of achievement can be attributed to a board and administration who have local control and are committed to excellence in every area of academics. However, as the board, administration, and teachers began to observe the shift in population and demographics over the last several years, every area of academics had to be scrutinized. They intended to adopt a proactive stance, in order to ward off any future problems and maintain the sterling reputation of the school district. After careful review of ISAT scores over the past 5 years, it was evident a discrepancy existed in reading achievement from third-grade to the intermediate grades of fourth and fifth, as previously demonstrated in Table 1. ISAT reading scores, as students transitioned from third- grade to fourth- and fifth-grades, continued to be lower than administration and district expectations. Therefore, in an ongoing effort to meet the needs of all learners, guided reading instruction was instituted at the beginning of the 2005–2006 school year. The implementation of guided reading instruction supplemented the traditional basal reading program in the fourth- and fifth-grades. The goal was to give students additional instruction in reading, at their instructional reading level, in an effort to raise reading scores. To accomplish this task, teachers were given on-site, professional

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development in the form of a book study. All teachers at both intermediate schools were provided copies of Strategies That Work (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000) and asked to read a chapter per month. Biweekly meetings were held to discuss the strategies presented in the book. The first meeting of the month focused on the content of the chapter, while the second meeting shared implementation ideas. All fourth- and fifth-grade teachers also received on-site training by the reading coach to assess students. The Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA2) was the assessment administered to all students at the beginning of the school year by either the classroom teacher or the reading coach. The assessments were scored and used to determine the instructional reading levels of each student. From the results of the assessments, students were placed in a guided reading group consisting of three to five students. Each group received a daily 25-minute block of extra reading instruction, at their instructional reading level, for the remainder of the school year. The institution of guided reading instruction met a twofold purpose. Addressing the achievement gap from third-grade to fourth- and fifth-grades became the foremost concern. Secondly, the escalating demands of the NCLB Act, with regard to AYP in reading achievement, incited another. After implementation of guided reading instruction, effective monitoring of the new method also became necessary. Monitoring allowed necessary adjustments to occur, ensuring a more optimal learning environment. With these considerations in mind, the purpose of this study was to determine whether the implementation of guided reading instruction was successful for improving reading achievement for fourth and fifth grade in District B. Guided reading instruction was implemented at the commencement of the 2005–2006 school year. The participants in

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this study included all fourth- and fifth-grade intermediate students in District B. The instrument used to measure success, or lack thereof, was the ISAT. Independent Variable Guided reading instruction is an instructional approach to teaching reading. Reading experts Fountas and Pinnel (2001) stated, The purpose of guided reading is to meet the varying instructional needs of all the students in your class, enabling them to greatly expand their reading powers. During guided reading, they read a book you have specifically selected to provide a moderate amount of challenge, and you support them in tackling the necessary problem solving to overcome the difficulties they may encounter. (p. 191) In this study guided reading instruction was implemented in conjunction with the basal reading series at both the fourth-and fifth-grade level. The purpose was to provide differentiated reading instruction to a group of approximately three to five students at the readers’ instructional level, based on students’ needs. This causal–comparative study employed guided reading instruction, as the independent variable. Its effectiveness for improving reading achievement on the ISAT, in fourth and fifth grades was examined. Three control groups were established: The first comprised reading scores of third-grade students in 2005–2006, the second comprised reading scores of fourth-grade students in 2005–2006, and the third comprised reading scores of fifth-grade students in 2005–2006. Control group scores were then compared with the reading scores of the same students who were now in a fourth-grade treatment group in 2006–2007 and fourth-grade students who were now in a fifth-grade treatment group in 2006–2007. A further comparison was made between the fourth-grade treatment group in 2007–2008 and the fifth-grade

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treatment group in 2007–2008. If guided reading instruction proved successful as an instructional teaching method, it would result in a statistically significant increase in reading scores, as measured by the ISAT. Dependent Variable The dependent variable measured student achievement. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recognizes student achievement as meeting or exceeding the learning standards established by NCLB (NCLB Act, 2003) with regard to AYP (ISBE, n. d.). If successful, students from the treatment groups would demonstrate statistically significant improvement in reading achievement, as the result of having participated in guided reading instruction. The ISAT was the instrument used to measure student achievement in this study. Hypothesis H 1 :

The implementation of guided reading instruction will result in a statistically significant improvement in reading achievement in fourth and fifth grades in District B, as measured by the ISAT. H 0 : The implementation of guided reading instruction will not result in a statistically significant improvement in reading achievement in fourth- and fifth-grades in District B, as measured by the ISAT. Research Questions The three research questions were as follows: Do teachers believe guided reading instruction is an effective instructional approach to improve ISAT scores?

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Does teacher commitment to the instructional approach affect the success of guided reading instruction? What instructional skills and strategies are required to develop an effective reading program for intermediate grades, particularly fourth- and fifth- grade? Limitations of the Study This study contained certain threats to internal validity that must be noted. Fraenkel and Wallen (2003) defined internal validity as “the degree to which observed differences on the dependent variable are directly related to the independent variable, not to some other (uncontrolled) variable” (p. G-4). Threats unique to this study will be detailed and explained. Participant characteristics. According to Fraenkel and Wallen’s definition, the first threat to internal validity was participant characteristics. This may result from the way “individuals or groups differ from one another in unintended ways that are related to the variables to be studied” (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2003, p. 179). In this study participants in the groups being compared differed in terms of age, gender, socioeconomic background, ethnicity, vocabulary, fluency, reading ability, and attitude. With regard to gender, research has reported that males struggle more in the area of reading achievement (Pressley, 2006). Additionally, the background or socioeconomic status of the child may also have an effect on student achievement, due to a lack of exposure to reading materials in the home and/or lack of ability or importance placed on reading activities by caregivers. Since the researcher had no part in the selection or composition of the groups studied and compared, there is the likelihood that the groups are not equal. The same

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intermediate grade levels of students studied, however, remains consistent throughout the study. ISAT scores from 2005 to 2006 were used to form three control groups using the scores of third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students in District B. These scores were then compared with the treatment group of fourth- and fifth-grade students in 2006–2007. The treatment groups in 2006–2007 had all received guided reading instruction for the first time and were compared to the control groups from 2005 to 2006. In 2007–2008 the group of fifth-graders had received 2 years of guided reading instruction, compared to the fourth-grade group having received only 1 year of guided reading instruction. Therefore, students in the fifth-grade treatment group had the benefit of an extra year of guided reading instruction.

Full document contains 134 pages
Abstract: Although reading achievement correlates highly with a student's ability to do well in school, not all children achieve in reading. The purpose of this mixed-method study was to investigate whether reading instruction provided in small groups at the child's own reading level, known as guided reading instruction, would result in significant improvement in the reading achievement of fourth- and fifth-grade students. Teachers' commitment to and perception of guided reading instruction were also examined in the study district. The hypothesis was: Have student reading scores improved on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) in 2007 and 2008, after implementing guided reading instruction in the 2006-2007 school year? There were three research questions:, Do teachers believe guided reading instruction is an effective instructional approach to improve ISAT scores? How does teacher commitment to the instructional approach affect the success of guided reading instruction? What instructional skills and strategies are required to develop an effective reading program? Chi-square goodness-of-fit and paired-samples t tests were statistical tests employed in the quantitative portion of the study. Surveys and focus groups were used to investigate teacher commitment and perception of guided reading instruction in the qualitative portion of the study. Quantitative results indicated there is a significant correlation between guided reading instruction and improvement on ISAT scores, when students are examined over time. Qualitative results indicated teachers were committed to guided reading instruction, and perceived guided reading instruction benefitted students. Further, teachers recommended additional training in guided reading instruction, coupled with additional staff to provide guided reading instruction, would help maximize results. Preliminary results did not show significant improvement after 1 year of guided reading instruction. However, when the scores of the same students were followed over a 2-year period, significant results were noted. The most salient finding of this research reinforced the notion that the validity of any new program is onerous to judge in its inception year. Practitioners may benefit from future research that tracks the same students over an expanded period of time as well as the establishment of quality assurance measures to ensure the program continues to be administered with fidelity.