Applied Dissertation Proposal for the Degree of Doctor of Education
Making resources available to the third grade students and teachers lends itself to the appropriate data, types of instruments, and instructional strategies used to enhance education. Wilson School leaders are getting acquainted with reading resources that are beneficial in order to provide teachers with test data, reading instruments, and specific strategies to assist them in raising achievement.
This applied dissertation is designed to equip teachers with current information accessible to the staff and the third grade students to increase their scores in reading. It has been determined that a review of past and recent reading data was needed to find appropriate strategies for improving instruction of teachers to help increase reading scores.
Also, parental involvement has been researched and found to be a valuable asset to increasing academics in their children, as children who are encouraged to read at home, and enjoy reading with their parents, often have higher reading abilities and therefore higher reading scores in the classroom.
Strategies must be implemented to help children learn to read better, and one of the ways to do this is by fostering a love of reading in children at a young age. Ideally, this would be the age where children are just beginning to learn to read, but children who are in the third grade are not too old to develop a love of reading. Appropriate measures must be taken to ensure that children enjoy reading, and therefore will continue to improve their reading skills as they work their way through the educational system.
Children's reading scores have been declining in Wilson School for several years, and this particular school is not alone in this problem. Many schools across the country, especially those that are located in impoverished neighborhoods, are showing a decline in basis reading skills as measured by standardized testing.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Description of Setting
Wilson School is situated in one of the poorer sections of Chicago Heights, at 422 West 16th Place. Some sections of the community are filled with middle- to upper-class homes and thriving businesses. Other areas are less maintained, having some vacant buildings, prevalent litter, and other signs of decay.
The variety of property values and appearance of those properties across the community is evidence of the varied and dramatic range in the socioeconomic status and stability in the lives of the city's residents. The lives and learning of the school's students are impacted by the circumstances in which they live and the conditions of their families.
Wilson School currently serves 450 students, and the population consists of 99.4% Blacks and.6% Whites. The mobility rate is 40.8%, the attendance rate is 92.6%, and the truancy rate is 1.7%. Thirty percent of the students are living in foster care homes. A complete review of the demographics of Wilson School is shown in table 1 (see table 1).
The western part of the building is an older section. An addition was completed in recent years in an attempt to keep up with the growth rate of the student population, and the eastern end of the school is more modern. Another new edition is in progress this year, as the student body continues to expand.
Each room is utilized to the maximum extent possible, with many rooms used for classes that they were not intended for, simply because there is no other space available to hold these classes. Some parts of the building, including classrooms, the library, and the main office, are overcrowded.
Description of Problem
For the past three years in which data is available (1999-2001), Wilson School's third-grade students test results fell in the second and third stanine categories of the bell curve in reading on the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT). This is not an acceptable reading level for third-grade children, as it is below the state average.
The scores in reading must be increased so that the third-grade students' scores will fall in the fifth or sixth stanine or higher by the 2003 school year.
Demographic Information Summary
Average Class Size
This study focuses on the types of instruments, data, and instructional strategies that are available to raise the students' scores in reading to a more appropriate and acceptable level as set out by the state of Illinois and the standardized testing that they require of all students.
Description of Barriers
The third grade students have been the focus group tested by the state in reading on the ISAT for years. Test data and information from the ISAT has been collected from a database disk housed at the local central office. The existing data records for 1999-2001 show the percentage of students at the local (Wilson School), state, and district levels who have failed to meet the state standards in reading at the third-grade level.
Data for the third-grade teachers at Wilson (n=2) will be provided by their university transcripts and professional development records kept in the central office files. The data from the university transcripts will show the required reading classes that they took at the university level that qualify them to teach reading, the required semester hours of reading courses, and the types of reading courses that they took. The professional development will show the on-going reading trading that the third-grade teachers took to keep them trained in the new reading skills that had been created, or were being developed.
The observation of teachers by the administrator will take place during reading to observe the amount of required state hours taught in reading, which is currently 2 1/2 hours daily for third grade. The time distribution sheet will be displayed in each third grade classroom to show the distribution of time per minute spent on reading skills. Observations and time distribution sheets will provide reading skills time data. (See Appendix).
For example, reading is a major weakness for students in grade 3 across the district. The assessment scores have been declining for the past three years. Reading across the curriculum has been a focus for improvement during recent years. The staff at Wilson School is actively exploring why this is the pattern and what can be done to try to improve the reading skills of the third-grade students.
Providing ongoing staff development at Wilson School is the top priority of the principal, the superintendent, the curriculum director, and the school board members. Faculty members, along with the principal, are expected to participate in staff development at the school, district, and regional levels. All staff continuing education plans must be developed and implemented for future certification and academic improvement. Past and recent data in reading were needed to find strategic approaches to improving reading instruction of teachers.
By taking a careful look at the past and current reading test results (scores) of the third grade students in reading, we can obtain a projection of failed skills and the percentage of students who failed those skills. This information is presented to the teacher to learn from and improve the skills needed to increase the reading scores. If these teachers have reading certificates and reading endorsements, they will be qualified by the state of Illinois to instruct the students in reading. With continuous staff development in reading, the teachers and the principal will be knowledgeable in the areas of reading to help improve the reading scores.
Description of Proposed Intervention
The third-grade group has been the focus group tested by the state in reading on the ISAT for several years. The test data from the ISAT was collected from a data disk housed at the central office. The existing data records from 1999-2001 show the percentage of students who did not meet the state standards in reading at the third-grade level.
The Illinois State Standard Achievement Test that is administered to the third-grade students each year shows the percentage of students who perform above, at, or below the state accepted standards in reading. It also shows the skill levels of the students who did not meet the state standards in reading, so that it can be determined where these students reading skills lie in order to attempt to bring their skills up to the state standards.
The administrator of Wilson School explained that using state standards across the curriculum in reading, and reading more books, has been another focus for improvement for the next school year (2002-2003). An analysis of the data revealed that the third-grade teachers are receptive to the new data. This is important for the future of the students, as it has the potential to bring their reading scores up to state standards for the first time in several years.
Presentation of Terminal Objectives
Wilson School has targeted reading skills as an area in which we need to improve at the third-grade level by falling into the fifth and sixth stanines of the…