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Effective Schools and Accomplished Teachers: Lessons about Primary-Grade Reading Instruction in Low-Income Schools

Barbara M. Taylor, P. David Pearson, Kathleen Clark and Sharon Walpole
The Elementary School Journal
Vol. 101, No. 2 (Nov., 2000), pp. 121-165
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1002340
Page Count: 45
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Effective Schools and Accomplished Teachers: Lessons about Primary-Grade Reading Instruction in Low-Income Schools
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Abstract

We investigated school and classroom factors related to primary-grade reading achievement in schools with moderate to high numbers of students on subsidized lunch. 14 schools across the United States and 2 teachers in each of grades K-3 participated. 2 low and 2 average readers per class were tested individually in the fall and spring on measures of reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. The teachers were observed 5 times by trained observers between December and April during an hour of reading instruction, completed a written survey, completed a weekly log of reading/language arts activities in February and again in April, and were interviewed in May. Each school was 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, and strong building communication and collaboration. A collaborative model for the delivery of reading instruction, including early reading interventions, was a hallmark of the most effective schools. Statistically significant teacher factors included time spent in small-group instruction, time spent in independent reading, high levels of student on-task behavior, and strong home communication. More of the most accomplished teachers and teachers in the most effective schools supplemented explicit phonics instruction with coaching in which they taught students strategies for applying phonics to their everyday reading. Additionally, more of the most accomplished teachers and teachers in the most effective schools employed higher-level questions in discussions of text, and the most accomplished teachers were more likely to ask students to write in response to reading. In all of the most effective schools, reading was clearly a priority at both the school and classroom levels.

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