Beating the Odds in Teaching All Children to Read

CIERA Report #2-006

Barbara M. Taylor, University of Minnesota
P. David Pearson, Michigan State University
Kathleen F. Clark, University of Minnesota
Sharon Walpole, University of Virginia

CIERA Inquiry 2: Home and School
What schoolwide practices characterize schools in which at-risk learners are beating the odds? What instructional practices are used by the most accomplished primary-grade teachers and by teachers in the most effective schools?

The authors used quantitative and descriptive methods to investigate school and classroom factors related to primary-grade reading achievement. Fourteen schools across the U.S. with moderate to high numbers of students on subsidized lunch were identified as most, moderately, or least effective based on several measures of reading achievement in the primary grades. A combination of school and teacher factors, many of which were intertwined, was found to be important in the most effective schools. Statistically significant school factors included strong links to parents, systematic assessment of pupil progress, strong building communication, and a collaborative model for the delivery of reading instruction, including early reading interventions. Statistically significant teacher factors included time spent in small group instruction, time spent in independent reading, high pupil engagement, and strong home communication. More of the most accomplished teachers were frequently observed teaching word recognition by coaching as children were reading, in addition to providing explicit phonics instruction, than the least accomplished teachers and teachers in the moderately or least effective schools. Additionally, more of the most accomplished teachers and those in effective schools were frequently observed asking higher level questions after reading than their counterparts. In all of the most effective schools, reading was clearly a priority at both the building and classroom level.

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