Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2018

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Curriculum & Instruction


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Troy Haugen


Schools across the United States are seeing that the percentage of students that are experiencing reading failure is growing year after year. By reading failure I mean that students are not coming in reading at what the schools have deemed adequate for their age and ability levels. For example, using A-Z reading levels, a first grader should come in reading at a D level, and end the year at a J. However, year after year, schools are seeing students come in lower than that, so they are caught playing catch up all year. Each year there are competing curricula that claim to know exactly what students need in order to succeed. It is a quality teacher’s goal to bring students to their full potential, and as Lipp & Helfrich (2016) state, “Effective teachers are continually seeking opportunities to improve their craft” (p.639). It is because of this that I am doing my action research on the effectiveness of the curricula sets forth in our district. In a school with many English Language Learners and low socioeconomic students, as teachers we are often the sole providers of reading support for the students. In districts across the country, schools are finding that students are getting stuck at their current reading levels, and are not making adequate yearly progress by the end of the year. According to Wall (2014) “Inconsistent progress in reading is not a problem unique to our school. Many teachers in the United states spend large segments of their literacy blocks conducting guided reading sessions with their students only to find that some students, particularly English Language Learners, minority, or underprivileged students, make minimal progress over the course of the year” (p. 135).

With this in mind, teachers all over the United States are trying new ways to get through to all of their students in a way that will help them reach their full potential. In an attempt to do this, new small group reading models are coming out every year. It is this reason why I am going to do a study on which program works best for first grade students. Much like students across the nation, students in the Midwest are at risk in not meeting their Average Yearly Progress every year. As stated by Angell (2001) “Young people are at risk, or educationally disadvantaged, if they have been exposed to inadequate or inappropriate experiences in the family, school, or community” (p. 6). Students at many schools, including the one that the study is being done at, have not had exposure to literature, so they are coming in at a lower reading level each year. Kindergarten teachers are trying to get students from knowing zero letters or sounds, to reading at a level D. With the gap being so large, students are coming into first grade at level As or Bs, and teachers are expected to get them to jump to a level J or higher by the end of the year. Without strong small group reading instruction, an educator is unable to fill in this reading gap, and each year it gets larger. With the importance of reading progress in the primary grades, teachers are looking for the most effective reading curricula. It is with this in mind that I am doing this action research project.



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