Date of Award

Summer 8-18-2017

Level of Access

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Leadership

Advisor

Sarah Mackenzie

Second Committee Member

Gordon Donaldson

Third Committee Member

Shihfen Tu

Additional Committee Members

George Marnik

Allyson Dean

Abstract

The purpose of this mixed method study was to build on the earlier efficacy work of Tschannen, Moran, and Hoy (2001) and the reading teacher efficacy work of Szabo and Mokhtari (2004) to add to educational research related to teacher efficacy and reading. This study is specifically focused on the teaching of reading to struggling readers at the intermediate levels. The study was guided by four research questions that focused on the teaching of struggling readers at the intermediate level. Reading teacher self-efficacy levels were established through a survey instrument. In addition, data from two interviews, structured and semi-structured, about core teaching practices in reading and how each teacher worked with struggling readers were compiled. The overarching goal of this study was to deepen our understanding of the practices that highly efficacious intermediate grade teachers incorporate into their classrooms to support the needs of struggling readers.

This study provides five findings. First, a range of efficacy levels exists among intermediate teachers and there was no evidence that the mantra, “In grades K-2, children learn to read and in grades 3-5, children read to learn” held true for these teachers. Second, there is a range of implementation of instructional supports and best practices among high efficacy intermediate teachers of reading. Third, a directive leadership and programmatic approach can negatively influence literacy instruction. Fourth, collaboration among teachers and leaders positively affect literacy practices in schools with a population of struggling readers. Fifth, differentiation of instruction is a key practice that intermediate literacy teachers find most challenging in supporting the learning of struggling readers.

The study also provides evidence that among these high efficacy teachers exists a belief that they have a responsibility to teach all students. The teachers who felt the most tension in trying to meet the needs of struggling readers taught in schools where school leadership chose scripted programs that did not reflect best practices in reading instruction. All of these high efficacy teachers struggled with differentiating instruction to some degree.

The findings of this study could benefit teachers and educational leaders who are hoping to develop focused professional development on how to more effectively meet the needs of struggling readers at the intermediate levels.

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