The Impact of Policy Driven Professional Development on Emergent Literacy Instruction

By Pennycuff, Kristen R. | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Impact of Policy Driven Professional Development on Emergent Literacy Instruction


Pennycuff, Kristen R., Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Abstract

Professional development that increases quality classroom instruction is a concern of school administrators and professional educators. Using survey, observation, and interview methods, four rural schools in the Upper Cumberland area of Tennessee were examined to determine if professional development supported by the Reading Excellence Act promoted, hindered, or had no effect on emergent literacy instruction. Treatment group participants were teachers from two schools within the Tennessee Technological University service area that were recipients of the Reading Excellence Act grants. Control group participants were teachers from two comparable schools within the same geographic location with similar demographics. Analysis of the self-administered surveys indicated that there was a significant positive interaction between teachers receiving REA modules of professional development and familiarity with, frequency of use of, and perceived importance of REA concepts. Observations and interviews corroborated the statistical analysis. The Reading Excellence Act professional development modules have shown promise for increasing the quality of emergent literacy instruction. Preliminary studies such as this investigation suggest that continuation of the professional development component of the grant is warranted. Implications are discussed in relation to future professional development programs.

Introduction

Reading Excellence Act and Professional Development

Although federal and state literacy initiatives have been affecting stakeholders in local education agencies for years, never before has a reading proposal of the magnitude of the Reading Excellence Act (REA) been distributed. In 1998, the Reading Excellence Act was passed by the legislature as an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It provided schools with direct financial assistance to improve reading instruction, teachers' instructional practices, and student performance through scientifically-based reading research (SBRR) (Goodman 1998, Mesmer and Karchmer 2003, Reading Excellence Act 1998). Large sums of money devoted to the improvement of emergent literacy for students in pre-kindergarten through third grade were channeled to state education agencies for distribution through competitive grants to local education agencies.

Local Reading Improvement (LRI) grants focused primarily on professional development with some funding for early childhood collaborations, tutoring, family literacy, and early grade transitions. Tutoring Assistance Sub-grants (TAS) provided funding for tutoring at-risk students. School systems with schools that qualified as high poverty or low performing schools could chose to apply for one or both types of Reading Excellence Act grants. The competitive process targeting the lowest performing and highest poverty schools was designed to bring professional development and tutorial assistance to those in greatest need, a unique feature of the REA legislation (Goodman 1998, Mesmer and Karchmer 2003, Roller 2000).

The second distinctive feature of the Reading Excellence Act was the precise vocabulary used (Goodman 1998, Mesmer and Karchman 2003). Never before had the act of reading been defined by the government (Mesmer and Karchman 2003). In Section 2252(4) reading is explicitly defined by the following characteristics:

1. The skills and knowledge to understand how phonemes, or speech sounds, are connected to print.

2. The ability to decode unfamiliar words.

3. The ability to read fluently.

4. Sufficient background information and vocabulary to foster reading comprehension.

5. The development of appropriate activities to construct meaning from print.

6. The development and maintenance of a motivation to read. (Reading Excellence Act, 1998, Section 2252.)

These literacy concepts of phonological awareness, decoding, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and motivation form the model of professional development modules prescribed for REA recipients (Mesmer and Karchmer 2003, Tennessee Reading Excellence Act 2001).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Impact of Policy Driven Professional Development on Emergent Literacy Instruction
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?