Academic journal article Reading Improvement

Evaluation of a Standards-Based Supplemental Program in Reading

Academic journal article Reading Improvement

Evaluation of a Standards-Based Supplemental Program in Reading

Article excerpt

This pilot descriptive study examined expressed perceptions of a diverse group of teachers who, in the 2002-2003 school year, piloted implementation of a new standards based supplemental program in reading/language arts, EduSTRANDS. Over 600 teachers in 153 schools using a supplemental, standards based reading/language arts program were surveyed on their impressions of the features and effectiveness of the program. Standard assessment scores from the schools were compared for the year immediately preceding the use of the materials and for the first year of use of the materials. Overall teacher evaluations of the program were positive. Scores increased at all tested levels except in sixth grade.

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Political, sociological and educational changes hallmarked the school atmosphere in the United States at the opening of the 21st century. The enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, signed on January 8, 2002, provided the impetus for educators to take a closer look at classroom practices and subsequent student outcomes. The ultimate goal is to instruct in a manner which results in the highest possible student performance on standardized achievement measures thus addressing the demand for stronger accountability for results (www.ed.gov/nclb). Within the next decade "... 2013-2014, all students will reach high standards, at a minimum attaining proficiency or better in reading/language arts ...". Where student performance is found to be at less-than-desirable levels, measures must be taken to implement sound, research-based methodology. Students must be provided with advantageous education programs which address mandated standards and which have been found to be correlated with increased student performance on measures of their standards-based outcomes (NCLBA, 2002).The high standards on which student performance is to be based will come from the professional educational organizations. Specifically, national guidelines established by the International Reading Association (IRA) and by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) for reading and language arts will play a primary role in student evaluation.

In response to the demand for students to achieve at high levels and to meet specified standards, all states have mandated a state-wide testing program for all of their students. For example, yearly in Louisiana students at specific grade levels are tested using the Louisiana Statewide Norm-Referenced Testing Program in order to ascertain their levels of achievement in comparison with national results (Louisiana State Education Progress Report, 2001-2002). The results of this test provide a standard measure for student achievement and can provide an indication of school progress on a year-to-year basis.

This pilot descriptive study examined expressed perceptions of a diverse group of teachers who, in the 2002-2003 school year, piloted implementation of a new standards based supplemental program in reading/language arts, EduSTRANDS. The EduSTRANDS materials address each of the standards set forth by IRA/NCTE and include multiple activities and strategies to introduce, reinforce, and evaluate student performance. Content examples and practice are provided for each identified skill. Lessons are arranged vertically between grades as well as horizontally within grades for grades 1-8. Well designed instructional approaches support effective reading instruction. According to the American Federation of Teachers (2003) the following components are needed to effectively teach reading: Comprehension strategies, vocabulary instruction, systematic and explicit instruction regarding written English, decoding skills, and phonemic/phonics instruction. The EduSTRANDS materials which address these components were developed in response to numerous teacher requests for a coherent way to ensure all reading/language arts standards could be adequately and thoroughly addressed. Extant basal texts and available curricula often were limited in their consideration of the entire set of standards at particular grade levels. …

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