Academic journal article Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology

An Examination of Kindergarten Core-Reading Instruction in the United States

Academic journal article Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology

An Examination of Kindergarten Core-Reading Instruction in the United States

Article excerpt


Prevention, intervention, and research efforts are grounded in a belief that teachers should only use alternative educational practices after reasonable evidence has indicated that general education practices implemented with a high degree of integrity have been unsuccessful. To investigate levels of implementation of an evidence-based primary reading program, we observed teachers' use of Open Court, a commercially-available core reading program, during the district-mandated two-hour literacy block. We found that the amount and type of literacy and language arts instruction children received varied across classrooms. We discuss the implications of our work for future research and the improvement of childhood education practices.

Keywords: Core-reading instruction, Kindergarten students, Evaluation

1. Introduction

The problem of significant reading failure in America has been the target of large-scale federal initiatives where many children with significant discrepancies between their expected and actual performance in reading receive remedial instruction. Beginning in the late 1960s, the field of learning disabilities emerged in response to large numbers of children failing to profit in general education (Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 1982; 1984; Fuchs & Deshler, 2007; Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006; Fuchs, Mock, Morgan, & Young, 2003). Despite considerable discontent, disagreement, and dissatisfaction related to critical underlying assumptions and constructs (i.e., identification, assessment, and intervention), the field grew dramatically throughout the 1980s and 1990s to a point where more than half of the more than 6 million children receiving special education services were classified with learning disabilities (Ysseldyke, Algozzine, & Thurlow, 2000). Recently, the concerns reached a critical state largely because the growing numbers of students with the learning disabilities label made it increasingly difficult for local, state, and federal education agencies to fund the costs of "individualized" educational programs and the search for alternative identification practices became the driving force of innovation and reform in a field and category in serious need of "reconsideration" (Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003, p. 138).

Response-to-Intervention (RTI) has emerged as the latest policy and programmatic practice promising to reduce the number of children referred to learning disabilities or special education programs by providing intensive and effective instruction before they begin to fail (Al Otaiba et al., 2011; Al Otaiba, Hosp, Smartt, & Dole, 2008; Al Otaiba, Lake, Greulich, Folsom, & Guidry, 2012; Al Otaiba, Kosanovich-Grek, Torgesen, Hassler, & Wahl, 2005; Al Otaiba & Fuchs, 2002; Baker, Fien, & Baker, 2010: Farstrup, 2007; Fuchs, Fuchs, & Compton, 2004; Fuchs, D., & Fuchs, 2006; Fuchs, L. S. & Fuchs, 1998; Fuchs, Fuchs, & Speece, 2002; Gersten et al., 2008; Gersten & Dimino, 2006; Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003; Vaughn, Linan-Thompson, & Hickman, 2003). RTI's prominence was promoted with its inclusion as part of federal legislation supporting educational support for individuals with disabilities and its potential as a critical feature of continuing educational reforms spurred by No Child LeftBehind (NCLB). RTI "was 'very hot' in 2008, and some, including professionals in the International Reading Association, believed that if the heat kept building, [it] might boil into the 'hottest' of the hot range in 2009 in the 'What's hot, what's not' annual survey of literacy topics (What's hot focus topics, 2007, p. 12). Interestingly, proponents of RTI have accepted the accolade of high science (i.e., evidence-based practice) in the absence of data demonstrating effectiveness:

"...there is insufficient evidence of the effectiveness of RTI approaches...[f]ew published or unpublished studies are available" and those that are "...have typically involved small (or undefined) samples of schools, teachers, and students, and offer little information about what interventions are implemented, with what degree of accuracy of effectiveness. …

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