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Appalachian Student Research Forum

Office of Research and Sponsored Programs

Division II

Abstracts Submitted:Division II - Graduate students (1-2 years) - Arts & Humanities

Reading Excellence Act: Professional Development and Teacher Practice First Year Implementation in East Tennessee

Sherry Ellen Shroyer

When the National Assessment of Educational Progress reported in 1998 that 70% of fourth grade children in the United States were reading just at (31%) or below the basic grade level (39%), this astounding fact resulted in national attention and political intervention. At the same time, the National Research Council published their 25 years of researched findings in their book, Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). The national reactions to these reports were strong and included new initiatives for overcoming this emerging national problem. One such initiative was the implementation of the national Reading Excellence Act (REA).

The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the required REA staff and professional development activities and to determine whether these activities impacted classroom instruction. The study was limited to REA schools in East Tennessee during the first year of implementation. Staff and professional development activities were centered on the essential elements of reading and the educational term of balanced reading was embraced. The essential elements of balanced literacy, as delineated by the National Reading Panel include phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension instruction.

Data were collected using a teacher survey measuring teacher perception prior to and during REA implementation. Observational data were collected using identical paired observations, gathered on two occasions by the REA state consultant during official visits. A series of paired t-tests were used to determine whether there were significant pre-to-post changes in teacher perception of their teaching practice and pre-to-post changes in classroom observations. The overall alpha level or significance level was set at .05 for each significance test.

From this study, teacher perception of classroom practice was significantly improved; however, classroom observations did not correlate with those findings. It is assumed that as teacher perception changes, a change of teacher practice will likely follow.

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