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									               Walden University

                SCHOOL OF EDUCATION



         This is to certify that the doctoral study by



                       Katrina Wicker



has been found to be complete and satisfactory in all respects,
          and that any and all revisions required by
           the review committee have been made.



                    Review Committee
Dr. Linda Gatlin, Committee Chairperson, Education Faculty
Dr. Wilma Longstreet, Committee Member, Education Faculty




                           Provost

                    Denise DeZolt, Ph.D.



                     Walden University
                          2007
                                 ABSTRACT




The Effect of Two Reading Programs on Kindergarten Student‘s Reading Readiness


                                      by


                               Katrina Wicker




              M. Ed., Georgia College and State University, 1995
              Ed.S., Georgia Southwestern State University, 2002




                Doctoral Study Submitted in Partial Fulfillment
                     of the Requirement for the Degree of
                  Doctor of Education with a Specialization
                            In Teacher Leadership




                              Walden University
                                August 2007
                                       ABSTRACT


Schools spend significant amounts of money (purchasing computers, textbooks, and

funding programs) attempting to increase student literacy. Appropriate teaching strategies

and tools are needed to accomplish this task. The purpose of this modified quasi-

experimental research study was to examine the effect of two reading programs on the

GKAP-R literacy scores of kindergarten students and to identify differences in gain

scores between two instructional approaches. The effect was examined through six

research questions and provided disaggregated data using identified subgroups in

compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act. Students from two classes, one using Dr.

Cupp Readers and another using Phonics K/Harcourt Basal Reading Series, participated

in regular classroom instruction during the school year and were evaluated using the

GKAP-R by their classroom teacher. The researcher gathered GKAP-R literacy section

scores from the participating teachers. Descriptive statistics and independent samples t-

tests were used to examine differences in student data between groups. The researcher

used SPSS 14.0 for Windows to perform the statistical analyses. Statistically significant

findings showed that the cumulative gains on the literacy section were greater for

students in the Dr. Cupp reading program was more effective in producing academic

gains. The results of this study are beneficial to all kindergarten teachers and publishers

of the identified reading programs in order to aide in increasing student reading

achievement. This study promoted the use of 4 principles of social change: a) inclusion

and equity, b) high expectations, c) system-wide approach, and d) direct social justice

education and intervention.
The Effect of Two Reading Programs on Kindergarten Student‘s Reading Readiness



                                      by


                               Katrina Wicker




              M. Ed., Georgia College and State University, 1995
              Ed.S., Georgia Southwestern State University, 2002




                Doctoral Study Submitted in Partial Fulfillment
                    of the Requirements for the Degree of
                  Doctor of Education with a Specialization
                            In Teacher Leadership




                              Walden University
                                August 2007
                                      DEDICATION

   I dedicate this doctoral study to two very important people in my life: my granny,

Hattie, and my father, Alfred. To Granny for all of her years of unconditional love,

attention, prayers, and guidance. She has always been my source of inspiration, both

spiritually and academically. Although she passed away earlier this year and was not able

to be here to see the end result, I know she is looking down from heaven and smiling on

me. I love her and miss her dearly, but know she will always be my source of inspiration

and will continue to be looking after me from her spot amongst all the other angels in

heaven. I would also like to dedicate this doctoral study to my father, Alfred, for instilling

in me the desire to continue my education. He always said, ―A good education is

something no one can ever take away from you!‖ Thank you, daddy, for encouraging me

to pursue my dreams!
                                 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


   I wish to recognize those individuals who have helped me reach this stage in my

education and complete this doctoral study. First, I would like to thank my faculty mentor

and committee chair, Dr. Linda Gatlin, for without her and her expertise, I would never

be at this stage in my educational endeavor. I also wish to thank my other committee

member, Dr. Wilma Longstreet, for her guidance, support, and expertise. My committee

worked tirelessly to help me complete this research. I appreciate the Laurens County

School System for allowing me to conduct this study. I offer my gratitude to the two

participating teachers in my study, Mrs. Johnnie Sue Greene and Mrs. Stephanie Wood,

who contributed their student data to this research. Finally, I would like to thank my

husband, Kevin, and sons, William and Landon, for their understanding through all the

mood swings, trials, and tribulations during the pursuit of this degree. I love you all!




                                              ii
                                                TABLE OF CONTENTS


LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................................. vi
LIST OF FIGURES. ........................................................................................................ viii
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................1
Introduction ..........................................................................................................................1
           Phonics .....................................................................................................................2
           Whole Language ......................................................................................................3
           Balanced Literacy ....................................................................................................4
Problem Statement ..............................................................................................................6
Background .........................................................................................................................6
Georgia Kindergarten Assessment Program-Revised (GKAP-R) ....................................10
Literature Sources .............................................................................................................11
Need to Know ...................................................................................................................11
Purpose Statement ..............................................................................................................12
Research Questions ...........................................................................................................13
Significance of the Study ..................................................................................................15
Social Change ...................................................................................................................18
Limitations and Delimitations ...........................................................................................19
Assumptions.......................................................................................................................20
Definition of Terms ...........................................................................................................21
Conclusion ........................................................................................................................22


CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ..........................................................................25
Introduction .......................................................................................................................25
The History of Reading Instruction ...................................................................................25
           Jean Piaget ............................................................................................................27
           Lev Vygotsky ........................................................................................................29
           Howard Gardner ....................................................................................................33
           B.F. Skinner ...……… ...........................................................................................34

                                                                  iii
Dr. Cupp Readers ..............................................................................................................36
Phonics K ..........................................................................................................................41
Harcourt .............................................................................................................................47
Previous Research .............................................................................................................51
           Phonemic Awareness ............................................................................................51
           Phonics ..................................................................................................................53
           Fluency ..................................................................................................................55
           Vocabulary ............................................................................................................58
           Text Comprehension .............................................................................................60
Conclusion ........................................................................................................................62


CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY .....................................................................................64
Introduction .......................................................................................................................64
Research Design and Approach ........................................................................................66
Research Questions/Hypothesis ........................................................................................66
Setting ...............................................................................................................................69
Subject Selection and Characteristics ...............................................................................70
Treatment ..........................................................................................................................72
Instrumentation and Materials ..........................................................................................72
Data Collection Procedures................................................................................................73
Data Analysis ....................................................................................................................77
Participant‘s Rights ............................................................................................................78


CHAPTER 4: RESULTS ...................................................................................................79
Introduction ........................................................................................................................79
Results – Research Question 1 ...........................................................................................80
Results – Research Question 2 ...........................................................................................83
Results – Research Question 3 ...........................................................................................89
Results – Research Question 4 ...........................................................................................95
Results – Research Question 5 ........................................................................................104
Results – Research Question 6 .........................................................................................110
                                                                   iv
Conclusion .......................................................................................................................113


CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ...................................115
Introduction ......................................................................................................................115
Summary of the Study .....................................................................................................115
Ancillary Data ..................................................................................................................120
Unexpected Results ..........................................................................................................123
Study in the Context of the Literature..............................................................................124
Significance of the Study .................................................................................................125
           Contributions to Our Current Knowledge............................................................125
           Contributions for the Classroom Teacher ............................................................126
Implications for Social Change ........................................................................................127
Dissemination of Study ....................................................................................................132
Recommendations for Further Research ..........................................................................132
Concluding Remarks ........................................................................................................133


REFERENCES ................................................................................................................133


APPENDIX A: PREEXISTING RELIABILITY AND VALIDITY OF THE
BRACKEN ......................................................................................................................140
APPENDIX B: PREEXISTING RELIABILITY AND VALIDITY
OF THE GKAP-R ............................................................................................................141
APPENDIX C: TEACHER QUESTIONS ......................................................................142
CURRICULUM VITAE ..................................................................................................143




                                                                  v
                                                    LIST OF TABLES


Table 1. Class 1 Data: combined EIP kindergarten classes …………………………… ..74
Table 2. Class 2 Data: regular education kindergarten .....................................................75
Table 3. Class 1 Additional information ............................................................................76
Table 4. Class 2 Additional information ............................................................................76
Table 5. Group A versus Group B: August – January ......................................................81
Table 6. Group A versus Group B: January – April ..........................................................81
Table 7. Group A versus Group B: August – April ..........................................................82
Table 8. Males in Group A versus males in Group B: August – January ..........................83
Table 9. Females in Group A versus females in Group B: August – January ...................84
Table 10. Males in Group A versus males in Group B: January – April ...........................85
Table 11. Females in Group A versus females in Group B: January – April ....................86
Table 12. Males in Group A versus males in Group B: August – April ............................87
Table 13. Females in Group A versus females in Group B: August – April .....................88
Table 14. Caucasian students in Group A versus Caucasian students in Group B:
August – January................................................................................................................89
Table 15. African American students in Group A versus African American students in
Group B: August – January................................................................................................90
Table 16. Caucasian students in Group A versus Caucasian students in Group B:
January – April ...................................................................................................................91
Table 17. African American Students in Group A versus African American students in
Group B: January – April ..................................................................................................92
Table 18. Caucasian students in Group A versus Caucasian students in Group B:
August – April....................................................................................................................93
Table 19. African American students in Group A versus African American students in
Group B: August – April....................................................................................................94
Table 20. No disability in Group A versus no disability in Group B: August – January ..95
Table 21. Speech disability in Group A versus speech disability in Group B:
August – January................................................................................................................96
Table 22. Dual disability in Group A versus dual disability in Group B:
August – January................................................................................................................97
                                                          vi
Table 23. No disability in Group A versus no disability in Group B: January – April .....98
Table 24. Speech disability in Group A versus speech disability in Group B:
January – April ...................................................................................................................99
Table 25. Dual disability in Group A versus dual disability in Group B:
January – April .................................................................................................................100
Table 26. No disability in Group A versus no disability in Group B: August – April ....101
Table 27. Speech disability in Group A versus speech disability in Group B:
August – April .................................................................................................................102
Table 28. Dual disability in Group A versus dual disability in Group B:
August – April..................................................................................................................103
Table 29. Prekindergarten in Group A versus prekindergarten in Group B:
August – January..............................................................................................................104
Table 30. No prekindergarten in Group A versus no prekindergarten in Group B:
August – January..............................................................................................................105
Table 31. Prekindergarten in Group A versus prekindergarten in Group B:
January – April .................................................................................................................106
Table 32. No prekindergarten in Group A versus no prekindergarten in Group B:
January – April ................................................................................................................107
Table 33. Prekindergarten in Group A versus prekindergarten in Group B:
August – April..................................................................................................................108
Table 34. No prekindergarten in Group A versus no prekindergarten in Group B:
August – April..................................................................................................................109
Table 35. Nonrepeaters in Group A versus nonrepeaters in Group B:
August – January..............................................................................................................110
Table 36. Repeaters in Group A versus repeaters in Group B: August – January...........111
Table 37. Nonrepeaters in Group A versus nonrepeaters in Group B: January – April ..111
Table 38. Repeaters in Group A versus repeaters in Group B: January – April .............112
Table 30. Nonrepeaters in Group A versus nonrepeaters in Group B: August – April ...112
Table 40. Repeaters in Group A versus repeaters in Group B: August – April ..............113



                                                                vii
                                             LIST OF FIGURES


Figure 1. Pretest posttest control group design ..................................................................66




                                                       viii
                            CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

                                       Introduction

       One of the greatest achievements in a child‘s life is learning to read. ―The road to

becoming a reader begins the day a child is born and continues through the end of third

grade‖ (Arbruster, Lehr, & Osborn, 2001, p. 1). In school, the responsibility for teaching

children to read falls on the shoulders of kindergarten teachers because they lay the

academic foundation for reading readiness skills. Teachers today constantly struggle with

what approach to use to teach students to read.

       Historically, all American school children were taught to read. Teachers never
       considered that a child could not be taught to read, and remedial reading was
       unheard of. In fact, the first remedial reading clinic opened in 1930, soon after the
       results of the ―look and say‖ (the so-called ―Dick and Jane‖ program) reading
       methods were beginning to be felt. (Sweet, 1996, p. 2)

       Spache and Spache (1969) defined the reading process as ―obviously a

multifaceted process, a process that, like a chameleon, changes its nature from one

developmental stage to the next‖ (p. 3). Reading is a process consisting of skill

development, visual acts, perceptual acts, a reflection of cultural background, and a

thinking process. The authors stated

       the teachers obligation is far more than teaching the vocabulary of a basal series
       or the content of the prescribed workbooks; or faithfully following the steps of
       each daily lesson as outlined in the manual; or having, provided a variety of books
       from which he may freely select, saying, ―Go. Read‖. (p. 37)


       Much publicity, concern, and debate over which program (phonics, whole

language, or the balanced literacy approach) is best for teaching students to read has led

to constant debate. This epidemic is termed The Great Debate, also known as The
                                                                                            2
Reading Wars. Educators often refer to this dilemma as the pendulum swing between

phonics, whole language, and a newer version called the balanced approach.

Phonics

       Phonics advocates Chall, Adams, and the National Reading Panel (NRP) found in

order for children to learn to read, students must be taught explicit phonics rules about

how words are written and spelled as well as spelling-sound relationships. Students apply

the rule through practice with decodable text with the goal in a phonics classroom being

to provide students with rules and common spelling-sound relationships so they are able

to read precisely. Comprehension and appreciation is believed to occur as students

practice reading.

       In the years 1967, 1983, and 1996, Chall exhausted the reading research to find

great support for phonics first programs.

       The research….indicates that a code emphasis method--i.e., one that views
       beginning reading as essentially different from mature reading and emphasizes the
       learning of the printed code for the spoken language--produces better
       results….the results are better, not only in terms of the mechanical aspects of
       literacy alone, as was once supposed, but also in terms of the ultimate goals of
       reading instruction--comprehension and possibly even speed of reading. The long
       existing fear that an initial code emphasis produces readers who do not read for
       meaning or with enjoyment is unfounded. On the contrary, the evidence indicates
       that better results in terms of reading for meaning are achieved with the programs
       that emphasize code at the start than with the programs that stress meaning at the
       beginning. (1996, p. 307)

       Sweet (1996) also supported Chall in saying children must understand the

mechanics of the code we call the English language. Once they learn the code, they can

then learn the more advanced content that reading entails. He did not advocate for

beginning readers to learn lists of words or memorize these words before learning the
                                                                                            3
basis of word parts. He attributed all of this to the whole language approach to teaching

children to read, which he thinks has caused much of the illiteracy in America.

       Adams (1990) presented her findings in a research-based textbook, Beginning to

Read: Thinking and Learning About Print:

       In summary, deep and thorough knowledge of letters, spelling patterns, and words
       and of the phonological translations of all three, are of inescapable importance to
       both skillful reading and its acquisition. By extension, instruction designed to
       develop children‘s sensitivity to spellings and their relations to pronunciations
       should be of paramount importance in the development of reading skills. This is,
       of course, precisely what is intended of good phonics instruction. (p. 416)

In the NRP‘s (2000) press release statement, Congresswoman Northup stated:

       In the largest, most comprehensive evidence based review ever conducted on
       research on how children learn reading; a congressionally mandated independent
       panel has concluded that the most effective way to teach children to read is
       through instruction that includes a combination of methods. The panel determined
       that effective reading instruction includes teaching children to break apart and
       manipulate the sounds in words (phonemic awareness), teaching them that these
       sounds are represented by letters of the alphabet which can then be blended
       together to form words (phonics), having them practice what they‘ve learned by
       reading aloud with guidance and feedback (guided oral reading), and applying
       reading comprehension strategies to guide and improve reading comprehension.
       (pp. 1-2)

Whole Language

       Smith (2001) and Goodman (1998), whole language advocates, stressed the whole

language philosophy being a belief system for how children learn. Smith (2003) admitted

whole language is widely misunderstood, even among its supporters, and often

misrepresented by the people who attack it. He wanted children to encounter sense

making in the classroom as a means for learning. Everything children do to learn should

be done through experiences that are meaningful and relate to real life.
                                                                                             4
       Smith (1994) maintained an immersion theory where children learn to read

naturally, just as they learn to speak. Smith advocated that decoding skills are only used

by children because teachers have forced them to use these skills when learning to read.

Fluent readers have little use for the alphabetic principle. These readers rely on word

knowledge, context clues, and decoding simply as a last resort. Fluent readers do not

visually process every word but rather pick up detail to correct and corroborate their

hypotheses about the message of the text (p. 1).

       At the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

Conference in 1991, Goodman made this statement:

       Whole language is self-empowered teachers taking the best available knowledge
       about language, about learners, about curriculum, about teaching and building the
       learning community, and turning it into reality for the learners in their classrooms.
       It involves a body of knowledge, and a humanistic philosophy that values all
       learners, but it is teachers who have proclaimed themselves professionals and who
       have turned this all into practical reality. If you want to understand whole
       language, you must, more than anything, understand this new professionalism
       among teachers. (p. 1)

Balanced Literacy

           Today many educators term their preferred method of teaching reading a

balanced approach to literacy in hopes of creating an end to the Great Debate. Using this

terminology, educators try to secure a balance between the phonics and whole language

approaches to teaching reading. These educators really don‘t favor one approach over the

other but believe a combination of the two differing approaches is the best way to teach

reading.

       Educational theorist Strickland (n.d.) favored a balanced approach to reading

where phonics and whole language are intertwined throughout the school day to teach
                                                                                             5
children to read. Strickland emphasized reading is a complex process and requires more

than one strategy for instruction. She stated, ―Teaching children how to use phonics and

to use it with other strategies is very different from simply knowing about phonics‖ (p.

4). She reinforced that phonics is simply one way to help children figure out words and

that students still need to use trade books and other forms of literature.

       Pinnell‘s (2006) 10 principles in literacy programs that work also support the

balanced literacy approach to teaching students to read and are a major component of the

Reading Recovery Council‘s approach of appropriate reading instruction. The 10

principles are: a) phonological awareness, where students are taught to hear the sounds in

words; b) visual perception of letters, where students are taught to perceive and identify

letters of the alphabet; c) word recognition, where students are taught to recognize words;

d) phonics/decoding skills, where students are taught to use simple and complex letter-

sound relationships to solve words in reading and writing; e) phonics/structural analysis,

where students are taught to use structural analysis of words and learning of spelling

patterns; f) fluency/automaticity, where students develop speed and fluency in reading

and writing; g) comprehension; where students are taught to construct meaning from

print; h) balanced/structured approach, where students are provided a balance so literacy

develops along a broad front and students can apply skills in reading and writing; i) early

intervention to undercut reading failure; and j) individual tutoring, where one-to-one

assistance provides individualized instruction for students having difficulty.
                                                                                            6
                                    Problem Statement

       For 3 years now, kindergarten students at the researcher‘s school have learned to

read using one of two reading programs. This past school year, two of the nine

classrooms used Dr. Cupp Readers (2004) and the other seven classrooms used a

combination of two different programs: Phonics K (2003) and Harcourt (2003) basal

readers. In this study, the researcher compared and contrasted these two reading

approaches using developmental, behavioral, and constructivist theories. The Dr. Cupp

Readers and the alternate Phonics K /Harcourt were audited for alignment with the

current theories of reading.

                                        Background

       Dr. Cupp (2004) readiness lessons encompassed the first 6 weeks of school. The

readiness lessons featured eight language arts components (phonemic awareness,

phonics, spelling, fluency-sight words, grammar, creative writing, listening, and

speaking). From there, students moved into reader booklets, which continued to focus on

the eight language arts components, and allowed students to receive individualized

instruction based on each student‘s ability.

       Phonics K (2003) is an intense, whole group, systematic phonics program.

Teachers used scripted phonics lessons, which contained questioning strategies allowing

active participation by students. Phonics K (2003) is not a total reading program and was

used as a supplement to the basal reading program. Students were taught to read by

introducing them to language in small increments. Students were taught to ―code‖ words

by identifying the sound each letter or letter cluster makes, thus enabling them to read,
                                                                                              7
and eventually to spell, those words. A series of spelling rules explained typical patterns

used to spell words.

       Harcourt‘s (2003) reading series for kindergarten is titled Trophies. ―Trophies is a

research based, developmental reading/language arts program. Explicit phonics

instruction; direct reading instruction; guided reading strategies; phonemic awareness

instruction; systematic, intervention strategies; integrated language arts components; and

state-of-the-art assessment tools ensure every student successfully learns to read‖

(Harcourt, 2006). The Harcourt (2003) basal readers utilize trade books and various other

forms of genre to teach students to read. Phonics K (2003) and Harcourt (2003) provides

students with individual readers but limited sight word instruction.

       The principal of the researcher‘s school required uniformity in the kindergarten

curriculum. Reading textbook adoption will take place during the 2008-2009 school year

(R. Kea, personal communication, October 24, 2006). Findings of this research study can

be used in both the researcher‘s school and the researcher‘s county so an appropriate

reading curriculum may be chosen during the textbook adoption process. Serious

implications, such as adopting a program that does not meet the needs of learners, may

follow unless adequate data is used to guide data-driven decision making. Reading

textbooks are a significant investment for the taxpayers and the school system. The last

reading textbook adoption (2003-2004 school year) cost the county $43,173 for

kindergarten students alone. Refill kits for Phonics K cost the county an additional $25

per kindergarten student per year, totaling approximately $12,000 per year (R. Kea,

personal communication, October 24, 2006). With this considerable amount of money
                                                                                            8
being spent on reading programs for kindergarten students, educators need to be able to

make informed decisions regarding reading textbook adoption. The appropriate decision

can only be made when teachers are provided unbiased data about student achievement as

well as alignment with current theories of reading.

        In the past at the researcher‘s school, teachers reviewed textbooks during a

planning period. Teachers were not afforded the opportunity to actually ―test‖ the

material in their classroom prior to textbook adoption. Since the program was piloted at

the researcher‘s school and several other classrooms throughout the researcher‘s county,

teacher participants can provide first hand research data, which can be used to guide

textbook adoption. Findings of this research study can be provided to all involved parties

during the textbook adoption in the researcher‘s county during the 2007-2008 school

year.

        Many parents, kindergarten teachers, and first-grade teachers expressed concern

that students in the Dr. Cupp reading program are at a disadvantage when entering the

Phonics 1 program in first-grade. Phonics 1 requires students to use marks, termed coding

marks, placed on letters that signal to students the sound each letter makes based on

specific phonics rules. When students learn basic marks for short vowel sounds (breve)

and long vowel sounds (macron) in kindergarten, parents and other teachers think the

students are ready for the more in-depth coding of first-grade. Since the students in the

Dr. Cupp Reading program are not taught coding marks, some first-grade teachers and

parents think kindergarten students are not adequately prepared for first-grade.
                                                                                             9
       Uniformity in the kindergarten reading curriculum can help alleviate tension

amongst the staff. Stress is created because teachers want the best for their students and

they constantly compare activities, lessons, and progress of students in order to determine

the best program being used. Teachers frequently integrate bits and pieces of each

program in order to use approaches yielding the most success. Because the principal

required the kindergarten teachers to determine which one of the two programs can be

used in kindergarten in the future, solid data from this research project can be used to

help make this decision. As one of the kindergarten teachers, this researcher strives to

find the answer to the difficult question at the researcher‘s school: How do the two

reading programs, using divergent approaches, compare in preparing kindergarten

students to read, as measured by the literacy scores on the Georgia Kindergarten

Assessment Program-Revised (GKAP-R)? Which one of the two reading programs best

prepares students for first-grade reading as indicated by literacy scores on the GKAP-R?

Which one of the reading programs promotes higher accomplishment of the skills on the

GKAP-R? The researcher compared gain scores from the literacy section of the GKAP-R

in order to compare student achievement for classes of students in the two reading

programs.

       Fuchs et al. (2001) stated, ―Kindergarten is traditionally regarded as the time to

develop children‘s reading readiness skills‖ (p. 76). Because ―literacy skills acquired in

kindergarten and first-grade serve as the foundation for the development of subsequent

reading skills and strategies‖ (Coyne & Harn, 2006), when an appropriate reading

readiness program is used, students are prepared for a successful reading experience.
                                                                                         10
          The researcher closely examined and described the two reading programs used at

her school in order to help kindergarten teachers make an informed decision about how

the two reading programs, using divergent approaches, compare in preparing

kindergarten students to read, as measured by the literacy scores on the GKAP-R. In

order to determine which program best serves the school‘s students for reading readiness,

the results of the state-mandated GKAP-R were used. The GKAP-R assesses four domain

areas: literacy, mathematics, social, and emotional development. However, for the

purposes of this research study, the focus remained on the literacy section.

               Georgia Kindergarten Assessment Program-Revised (GKAP-R)

          Children enrolled in Georgia public school kindergarten programs are assessed for

first-grade readiness with the GKAP-R. All Georgia kindergarten students must

participate in the GKAP-R without exemptions or modifications unless specifically

documented with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The purpose of the GKAP-R is

to provide cumulative evidence of a student‘s readiness for first-grade. Thirty-two State

of Georgia Quality Core Curriculum (QCC) objectives are measured on the GKAP-R

using performance-based assessment activities (GDOE, 1998). Students are assessed in

four domain areas, which include: literacy, mathematics, social, and emotional

development. The test is given in a variety of one-on-one, small group, or large group

settings and is administered three times during the kindergarten year (Remillard, 2004).

Many of the skills on the GKAP-R are related to reading readiness; therefore this

information was used to evaluate the two reading programs in use at the researcher‘s

school.
                                                                                            11
                                     Literature Sources

       Schools spend significant amounts of money to improve reading achievement

(purchasing computers, textbooks, and funding programs). For example, in the

researcher‘s school district, approximately $45,000 was spent to improve reading

achievement in kindergarten in one year alone (R. Kea, personal communication, October

24, 2006).

       The United States Department of Education (USDOE, n.d.) now requires student

achievement be used to determine success of reading programs (¶ 6). The comparison

was made between taking children to the dentist and testing students. Children go to the

dentist for checkups and if the child has a cavity, an appointment is made for a filling.

When students are assessed and have reading problems, the student should be given

appropriate instruction in order to promote achievement. The USDOE requires all states

to use some form of testing as a measurement of student progress (USDOE, n.d., ¶ 9).

       Appropriate teaching strategies and tools might be used to target at-risk students

to get their performance up to the desired level. Extra help for students is not looked upon

as punishment, but rather the responsibility of the educational system (USDOE, n.d., ¶ 9).

This enables students to catch up as well as increases their chances of success.

                                       Need to Know

       Remillard‘s (2004) study, ―A comparison on the effectiveness of Readers

Workshop and Dr. Cupp Readers‖ revealed students who participated in Readers

Workshop in northwest Georgia during the 2003-2004 school year made average scores

of 195 total points on the GKAP-R in the spring. Students who participated in Dr. Cupp
                                                                                           12
Readers in the same school during the same school year made average scores of 191 total

points on the GKAP-R. Remillard‘s (2004) study focused on the total GKAP-R scores

rather than literacy scores alone. The study did not compare the two reading programs in

question for this research study nor did the previous study look at student gains during

the school year.

       This research study comparing Dr. Cupp Readers with Phonics K/Harcourt basal

reading series at a school in southwest Georgia during the 2006-2007 school year is

expected to yield similar scores from classes using the two differing reading programs.

However, the current study is expected to produce higher average gains on the GKAP-R

literacy scores for students in the Dr. Cupp Readers program throughout the duration of

the instruction. Scores were obtained only from the literacy section of the GKAP-R rather

than the entire GKAP-R assessment. Subgroups were identified (high- and low-

performing students, gender, ethnicity groups, students with prekindergarten experience

and those without, and students with and without disabilities) and those scores were

analyzed to determine which of the two reading programs produced higher average gains

on the literacy section of the GKAP-R for the different subgroups of students.

                                    Purpose Statement

       This past school year, the researcher and one other teacher piloted the Dr. Cupp

Readers combining eight literacy components (phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling,

fluency-sight words, grammar, creative writing, listening, and speaking). The other seven

kindergarten teachers used the Phonics K program with Harcourt basal readers. The

purpose of this study was to show the effect each of the two currently used reading
                                                                                         13
programs had on kindergarten students‘ reading readiness as measured by literacy score

gains on the GKAP-R. The researcher compared literacy score gains from the GKAP-R

of classes using the two different reading programs. The information obtained allows

teachers to make informed decisions about which program best teaches the kindergarten

students to read and can be used in the upcoming textbook adoption during the next

school year.

                                    Research Questions

Quantitative Questions

       1. What is the difference in class gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-

R for students utilizing Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series when compared to

students utilizing Dr. Cupp Readers combining eight literacy components?

       2. What is the difference in gain scores on the GKAP-R among students in the

two opposing programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)

for students of different gender?

       3. What is the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

among students of different ethnicities in the two opposing programs (Phonics

K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?

       4. What is the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

among students with disabilities and students without disabilities in the two opposing

programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?

       5. What is the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

between students with prekindergarten experience as compared to students without
                                                                                           14
prekindergarten experience and in the two opposing programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal

reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?

       6. Does the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

depend on whether or not students are repeating kindergarten and in the two opposing

reading programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?

       Campbell and Stanley (1963) were used as the bases for development of this

research study. The researcher chose to adapt their quasi-experimental quantitative

research design to compare the mean gain scores of two classes of GKAP-R literacy

scores. The researcher realizes this study did not meet all their conditions for a true

control group design. Therefore, the researcher termed this study a modified quasi-

experimental research study. The researcher worked with the given population and used

an in-school sample which will inform schools in our district when going through the

upcoming reading textbook adoption.

       The researcher examined the socio economics of the two classes of students and

determined enough similarities for the groups to be deemed comparable. The researcher

chose to focus on the mean gain scores in order to determine the reading program which

best advanced student achievement as measured by literacy scores on the GKAP-R. A

dire need for local research on the two reading programs was also a contributing factor to

the implementation of this study and therefore the researcher realized the circumstances

were not ideal but rather a true representation of what actually occurs in classrooms in

our county and district. The researcher knew a decision would be made in the upcoming

textbook adoption and knew any information or data collected and presented would
                                                                                         15
inform the critical decision regarding textbook adoption. Quantitative data were

presented and described to explain differences, if any, on class and subgroup gain literacy

scores of the GKAP-R. Further details of the methodology are discussed in chapter 3.

                                 Significance of the Study

       The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, commonly called No Child Left

Behind, is an act put in place in order to improve student achievement. Schools failing to

meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) for disadvantaged students receive sanctions such

as assistance to subgroups identified in the NCLB and corrective action for continuous

failure to make progress. This act basically amended the Elementary and Secondary

Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 and placed more guidelines on schools and school

systems. The acts have been revised and modified many times over the years with NCLB

being the latest revision. NCLB is projected to target all areas that will close the

achievement gap for all ethnic groups, all major socio economic groups, all English-

language learners, and all special education students. All of these groups have been

identified as previously unsuccessful in achieving the quality of education needed for

future success (USDOE, 2002, p. 16).

       President Bush said, ―We must confront the scandal of illiteracy in America, seen

most clearly in high-poverty schools, where nearly 70 percent of fourth-graders are

unable to read at a basic level‖ (USDOE, n.d. ¶ 6). The National Assessment of

Education Progress (NAEP) found there has been no improvement in the average reading

scores of 17-year-olds since the 1970s. Sixty percent of 12th graders in 1998 were reading

below proficiency (USDOE, n.d. ¶ 6). As part of the NCLB (2001), annual report cards
                                                                                               16
show school performance and statewide progress on standardized testing measures. This

report card shows parents information such as: the quality of their child‘s school, the

teacher‘s qualifications, and their child‘s progress in subject areas. This assessment data

is disaggregated by poverty, race, ethnicity, disability, and limited English proficiency

(USDOE, ¶ 3).

        Each state defines adequate yearly progress for schools, within the boundaries set

by Title I. Individual states set the minimum standards of improvement--measured by

student performance--that must be achieved within specified time frames. States begin by

establishing a ―starting point‖ based on the performance of its lowest achieving

demographic group or of the lowest achieving schools in the state, whichever is higher.

The state then sets the bar--or level of student achievement--a school must attain after 2

years in order to continue to show AYP. Subsequent thresholds must be raised at least

once every 3 years, until at the end of 12 years, all students in the state are achieving at

the proficient level on state assessments in reading/language arts and math (USDOE, n.d.

¶ 9).

        The researcher‘s school is a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

accredited Title I school where 67% of the students qualified for free/reduced lunches

(Self-Study for Continued Accreditation, 2006). Under legislation by NCLB (2001), the

researcher‘s school made AYP for two consecutive years. In order to continue making

AYP, the researcher‘s school designed a data room where teachers work to disaggregate

data in order to determine student needs and learn to address those learning needs.
                                                                                         17
Information from this study adds to the disaggregated data and shows how kindergarten

teachers are working to help close the achievement gap.

       The researcher‘s school has been labeled the poorest school in the county, with

67% of the student body qualifying for free/reduced lunches (P. Rowe, personal

communication, October 24, 2006). One of the main focuses of NCLB (2001) is to close

the achievement gap and make sure all students, including disadvantaged students, meet

high academic standards. Many times students who come from poor homes lack the

background knowledge and experiences in order to be successful. Agreement among

Resnick (1983) and Von Glaserfeld (1984) confirmed prior knowledge influences

learning and learners construct concepts from prior knowledge. Since the researcher‘s

school has many children who come from homes where background knowledge and

experiences are limited, the researcher chose to compare data based on high-achieving

students and low-achieving students in an effort to help close the achievement gap at the

researcher‘s school.

       The NCLB (2001) legislation demanded scientifically based research practices be

used in classrooms (USDOE, 2004). The researcher identified the strengths and

weaknesses of the two programs used in kindergarten and presented the findings to the

staff. According to the NCLB legislation, in order for a program to be considered

scientifically based on research, reliable evidence must show the program or practice

actually works with specified groups of students. The researcher presented evidence that

one of the programs meets the needs of a variety of learners--from sight word-based
                                                                                             18
learners to phonetic learners. The information is available for staff and other teachers

within the county for the upcoming reading textbook adoption.

       Results of this study are significant to all reading teachers but especially to the

kindergarten teachers at the researcher‘s school and in the researcher‘s county because of

the upcoming reading textbook adoption. The study is significant to all colleagues in the

field of the teaching of reading because they may use the findings to evaluate their

current teaching materials or future materials during textbook adoptions. The findings are

significant to the publishers of all reading materials used in the study because in order to

market their materials, they want to use the best approaches to teach reading. The study

allowed the researcher to advocate for self and others in the role of teacher leader. The

researcher has demonstrated the tenets of teacher leadership through conducting this

study. The study produced empirical reading achievement data facilitating decision

making for better student performance.

                                       Social Change

       Carlisle, Jackson, and George (2006) identified five principles of social change: a)

inclusion and equity, b) high expectations, c) reciprocal community relationships, d)

system-wide approach, and e) direct social justice education and intervention. Social

change was implemented through this particular action research project at the

researcher‘s school and in the researcher‘s county using several of the Carlisle, Jackson,

and George (2006) principles.

       During the 2006-2007 school year, the researcher‘s school participated in the self-

study for continued accreditation, where 10 accreditation standards were identified. The
                                                                                             19
researcher implemented many of those standards into the current research study. These

standards also support the Carlisle, Jackson, and George (2006) principles.

       The research study focused on identifying the reading program promoting higher

achievement for students regardless of any barriers. Teachers were allowed to participate

in piloting a program which could promote higher achievement as well as facilitated

learning for all students, thereby providing teachers with reliable data in order to inform

data-driven decision making.

                               Limitations and Delimitations

       Mauch and Birch (1993) stated, A limitation is a factor that may or will affect the

study in an important way, but is not under control of the researcher (p. 103). The

limitations of this study include heterogeneously grouped classes, the fact that the study

was limited to the reading programs used (Dr. Cupp Readers, Phonics K, and Harcourt) at

the researcher‘s school, and the fact that some of the students were conveniently placed

in EIP classes. The researcher acknowledges lack of control over testing times (during the

day), testing sites (in the teacher‘s classroom or in the hallway outside the classroom),

and observational data indicating the reading programs were taught as recommended by

the respective publishing companies.

       Mauch and Birch (1993) also stated delimitation differs, principally, in that it is

controlled by the researcher (p. 103). The delimitations of this study include: a small

sampling of scores, the purposeful sampling procedure for selecting students, and the

statistical measures being used. The study confined itself to the researcher‘s school and

those kindergarten classes during the previous school year. The school is located in a
                                                                                          20
rural community in southern Georgia and educates children of the middle to lower socio

economic class. The study was comprised of students in three of the nine kindergarten

classes at the researcher‘s school. The findings of the study are generalizable to groups of

students with the same demographics and equal quality of delivery of instruction using

the identified reading programs.

                                       Assumptions

       The researcher assumed the other two kindergarten teachers would teach as

recommended by the textbook publishers, following the prescribed protocol of the

identified reading programs, and that they would not pull in any outside programs. One of

the other kindergarten teachers has 22 years of teaching experience and one has 9 years

of teaching experience. Both were trained in the delivery of their respective reading

programs. The other teachers knew the research was being conducted and the researcher

assumed all kindergarten teachers would want accurate information to be reported.

       The participating teachers were evaluated throughout the school year and

provided an end-of-the-year evaluation. All participating teachers received a satisfactory

rating on both evaluations. They were evaluated by school administrators who used the

Georgia Teacher Observation Instrument (GTOI; GDOE, n.d.) to observe, evaluate, and

record the performance of classroom teachers. Teachers receive ratings of either need

improvement or satisfactory on the GTOI.
                                                                                         21
                                   Definition of Terms

        Assessment: the processes of gathering information about something to determine

how well individuals are achieving or have achieved what they or someone else expects

them to achieve (Cooper, 2000).

       Basal: a textbook compiled to teach people, especially young children, to read

(American Heritage Dictionary, 2004).

       Dr. Cupp Readers: a beginning reading program combining two types of reading

text. The Cupp Readers are written with a combination of 95% high-frequency

cumulative texts and 5% decodable text (Cupp, 2001).

       Early Intervention Program (EIP): a program designed to serve students who are

at risk of not reaching or maintaining academic grade level. The purpose of the EIP is to

provide additional instructional resources to help students who are performing below

grade level obtain the necessary academic skills to reach grade level performance in the

shortest possible time (GDOE, 2003, ¶ 1).

       Fluency: the ability to read a text accurately and quickly (Arbruster, Lehr, &

Osborn, 2001).

       Georgia Kindergarten Assessment Program-Revised (GKAP-R): an assessment

required by the United States Department of Education which provides cumulative

evidence of student‘s readiness for first-grade. All kindergarten students are assessed in

four domain areas, which include: literacy, mathematics, and social and emotional

development. The test is administered in a variety of one-on-one, small group settings

and is administered three times during the kindergarten year (GDOE, 1998).
                                                                                             22
       Individualized Educational Plan (IEP): a formal, written document describing a

specific child's skills, and including a statement of goals for special education services

and strategies for achieving those goals (Bailey, 1994).

       Multiple intelligences: the capacities for learning, reasoning, understanding, and

similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts,

meanings, and so on (Random House Dictionary, 2006).

       Reading readiness: the readiness to profit from beginning reading instruction

(Matthews, D.P., Klaassens, A., Walter, L.B., & Stewart, T.K., 1999).

                                         Conclusion

       Chapter 1 presented the problem at the researcher‘s school: perceived differences

in student achievement based on the GKAP-R literacy scores when students are taught

with two different reading programs. The problem was linked to historical perspectives

on the teaching of reading and background data were provided. The purpose of the study

was identified: to show the effect each of the two currently used reading programs has on

kindergarten students‘ reading readiness. The researcher compared mean gain scores

from the literacy section of the GKAP-R of classes using the two different reading

programs. The researcher identified many quantitative research questions:

       1. What is the difference in class gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-

R for students utilizing Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series when compared to

students utilizing Dr. Cupp Readers combining eight literacy components?
                                                                                          23
       2. What is the difference in gain scores on the GKAP-R among students in the

two opposing programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)

for students of different gender?

       3. What is the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

among students of different ethnicities in the two opposing programs (Phonics

K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?

       4. What is the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

among students with disabilities and students without disabilities in the two opposing

programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?

       5. What is the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

between students with prekindergarten experience as compared to students without

prekindergarten experience and in the two opposing programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal

reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?

       6. Does the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

depend on whether or not students are repeating kindergarten and in the two opposing

reading programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?

       Background data were presented to inform the reader. Limitations, assumptions,

and definition of terms were presented.

       Chapter 2 presents a literature review regarding the current reading programs used

to teach reading readiness skills. These reading programs are linked to educational

theorists. Chapter 3 contains the research design and methods. Chapter 4 identifies the

results of the quantitative research project. The summary, conclusions, and
                                                                                  24
recommendations comprise chapter 5. The study concludes with a bibliography and

appendixes.
                           CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

                                        Introduction

       Providing the best educational materials and/or programs to teach reading

readiness skills to kindergarten students takes many forms. Understanding the different

reading programs used to teach reading readiness skills to kindergarten students at a

school in central Georgia is vital to the design of this study. This quantitative research

study compared GKAP-R literacy results of students using Dr. Cupp Readers with

GKAP-R literacy results of students using Phonics K in conjunction with the Harcourt

basal reading series.

       This chapter reviews the history of research instruction. The researcher then

identifies four educational theorists who have contributed much knowledge and

information regarding how to educate young children. Their contributions to the field of

education, especially the teaching of reading, are briefly summarized with linkages to the

reading programs used at the researcher‘s school during the time of this study. The

chapter explains in full detail the programs used to teach students at a school in central

Georgia. The researcher also discusses each of the components posed by the NRP (2000)

and identifies where each of the reading programs used adhered to those guidelines.

These measures were taken in order to determine the best reading program for students at

the researcher‘s school.

                            The History of Reading Instruction

       Beginning in the early 1800s children were initially taught letters and letter-sound

relationships (phonics). Students were not taught decoding until the basics of letters and
                                                                                             26
letter-sound relationships were mastered (Sweet, 1996). The great education reformer

Horace Mann, during the mid-19th century, advocated the need for a whole word

approach to reading instruction rather than the phonics approach being used at the time.

In the late 19th century and into the 20th century, the trend was skills- and drills-based

instruction, which relied on two popular readers, the McGuffy readers and the Beacon

readers. Scott Foresman‘s ―Dick and Jane‖ reading books became popular before World

War II because of the more repetitive, simple words of the child‘s sight vocabulary and

highly predictable story lines (Turbill, 2002).

       Approaches to teaching reading have spanned over time from the ―traditional

view of reading based on behaviorism to visions of reading and readers based on

cognitive psychology‖ (Knuth & Jones, 1991, p. 1). The traditional view of teaching

reading was based on the behaviorism research for which Skinner (1974) became well-

known. The teacher brought desired behaviors under stimulus control by breaking

learning into small parts and providing reinforcement following each stage of learning.

Reading was described more as a process where students mechanically decoded words

and memorized other words by rote. The learner was passive and was seen simply as a

vessel receiving knowledge from an external source (Knuth & Jones, 1991).

       Knuth and Jones (1991) found the new definition of reading based on the

cognitive sciences and the constructivist research base where the goal of reading was to

construct meaning and self-regulate learning. Reading in this approach required

interaction among the reader, the text, and context. The student was an active learner and
                                                                                         27
became a strategic reader using strategies taught by the teacher and practiced by the

student.

       ―Understanding child development helps teachers know how and why children

behave as they do and what to expect of children within each age group‖ (Bickart, Jablon,

Dodge & Kohn, 1999, p. 12). Bickart et al. (1999) identified the developmental

characteristics of children from age five through eight in their book, Building the Primary

Classroom: A Complete Guide to Teaching and Learning. These authors described child

development in categories of emotional, social, cognitive, and physical development.

Although individual child development varies slightly, teachers are provided with

reference points by which a child‘s instruction and learning patterns may be gauged.

Kindergarten teachers should be sure students are developmentally ready to absorb the

material and apply the skills. Teaching a kindergarten student to read requires students to

be taught reading readiness skills such as phonemic awareness, alphabetic principles, and

conventions of print, which students master through appropriate instruction utilizing

guidelines presented by reading theorists. In order for kindergarten teachers to be

effective in teaching reading readiness skills, they should use a reading readiness

program that prepares students for a successful reading experience (Bickart et al. 1999).

Jean Piaget

       According to Piaget‘s (1952) stages of cognitive development, kindergarten

students are in the preoperational development stage. The preoperational stage is the

second of four developmental stages. In the preoperational stage, students aged 2 through

7, engage in symbolic play and language games, which Goodman (1998) said whole
                                                                                             28
language does through personal and social inventions in the reading classroom. Students

at this age have a self-centered point of view and can rarely see another person‘s

viewpoint. It is during this stage that a child‘s language acquisition develops rapidly.

Students converse with each other while overlapping sentences with their friends to find

no meaning in any ideas other than their own. Goodman (1998) stated written language is

learned and develops in much the same way as oral language. During this time, teachers

should present various forms of literature to students so they are exposed to thoughts of

others which do not necessarily focus on thoughts and ideas of their peers. Goodman

(1998) and Smith (2001) advocated for engaging students in their learning through

authentic reading and writing. Students in this stage also engage in intuitive thought,

where the child is able to believe in something without fully understanding why he or she

believes it. According to Piaget (1952) students should pass from this stage into the

concrete operational stage where they leave egocentrism and demonstrate the logical

thought process. According to Piaget (1952), all students must pass through the stages in

order for them to adequately acquire reading readiness skills (Chapter III: The Third

Stage, pp. 153-208).

       Because Piaget (1952) is considered to be a developmental theorist, he would

applaud Chall‘s work and the development of the stages of the reading process. Chall

(1996) identified six developmental stages of the reading process with the first of those

stages being applicable to this study. The first stage is called Stage 0 – prereading: for

children from birth to age 6. During this stage, children begin to understand the world

around them. The learner also begins to acquire insights into the nature of words and
                                                                                           29
begins to comprehend that words are made up of sounds and that some of these words

have the same beginning and ending sounds (Chall, 1996). The child starts to recognize

alliteration and rhyme in words. Children at this stage benefit from learner-centered

activities where they have a chance to make associations between their non visual

information and the visual information of the text (Chall, 1996). A top-down approach to

teaching that focuses on a whole language model of reading is recommended for children

at this stage (Chall, 1996).

Lev Vygotsky

       Vygotsky‘s (1978, pp. 84-91) Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and

scaffolding were two tenets for which he became well-known. The ZPD is defined as the

difference between the actual development and the potential development of each

individual child. For example, teachers assess students to find out where they are in their

understanding of reading readiness skills. From this assessment, the teacher uses

developmental guidelines, presented by Piaget (1952) and Chall (1996) to determine

appropriate instructional methods in order to teach the student what they need to learn.

Where the child is on the assessment would be the child‘s actual development; the

developmental milestones would be the potential development of the student; the ZPD

would be the difference between the two. The teacher provides appropriate individualized

instruction, encouraging growth and development, which allows individual students to go

from where they are to where the student should be in terms of academic development of

students at this age. Individualized instruction takes place when the ZPD is monitored

and used correctly.
                                                                                           30
       Scaffolding is defined as a process where teachers provide interactions with peers

and others, which challenge the child, while also providing assistance when necessary.

For example, a teacher may use a song with flashcards and/or body motions to teach a

student the sounds of letters. When the teacher is working with the student in a small

group setting, the teacher may refer the student back to the flashcard or body motion to

cue the student towards a particular sound. The student can use this cue to respond in the

correct fashion. This technique encourages the student to rely on something the teacher

previously taught, make the connection, and learn the concept. Scaffolding is a

continuous process, which builds on the next level consistent with the child‘s ZPD.

Components of scaffolding which make it an effective technique include: a) using

interesting and meaningful, collaborative problem solving; b) providing tasks to allow

participants to reach a joint understanding; and c) providing warm and sincere

encouragement. This process allows the learner to be challenged without being

overwhelmed. At the same time, the child feels independent and begins to take over their

own learning. Students ready to embrace the world of reading are allowed opportunities

to practice and further develop this skill. For students not ready to embrace the world of

reading, the teacher provides opportunities for phonemic awareness, which is a

prerequisite of reading readiness. Scaffolding most likely occurs in whole language or

balanced literacy classrooms but would rarely find itself in phonics based instruction

because of the rigidity of its strictly scripted lessons and the fact that the phonics program

moves students along at the same pace regardless of whether the students have mastered

the material or not.
                                                                                           31
       According to Vygotsky (1978), the goal of primary speech is not communication

with others but communication with self in order to enhance self-regulation and guidance

of one‘s own thought processes and actions. Children then transfer the regulatory role

from others to self. For reading readiness, students translate thoughts and actions of

others to themselves when they relate actions of characters from stories to their own lives

and situations. This translation of thought process could only occur in whole language or

literacy based classrooms where abundant exposure to children‘s literature is prevalent.

The ZPD, scaffolding, and private speech are ways of moving from socially guided

thoughts and actions to individually guided thoughts and actions. Kindergarten students

express themselves through various means such as role-playing, journals, and literature

response activities, which further develop their reading readiness skills. These activities

are found in whole language or balanced literacy classrooms.

       Vygotsky (1978) thought preschoolers who spend more time with socio dramatic

play are more advanced in general intellectual development, show an enhanced ability to

understand feelings of others, and are seen as more socially competent by their teachers.

Socio dramatic play occurs when students pretend to be someone or something other than

himself or herself. Students re-create real life experiences using prompts and make-

believe about a variety of topics. Imaginary play allows children to distinguish thought

from actions and objects. Restraint, which is one of the most important features of play, is

developed when children are able to control situations and events and also develops

through make believe play. Memory also strengthens during play. Children who

participated in thematic fantasy play appear to be above average in the following areas: a)
                                                                                         32
they performed better when asked to retell a story they had not heard before, b) their

language and reasoning skills were extended, c) they repeated language they heard before

and linked it to a situation of their own, d) they corrected and expanded each other‘s

language, e) they were able to distinguish between real and make-believe, and f) they

fantasized more (Vygotsky, 1978). Again, these activities occur in whole language or

balanced literacy classrooms where children are given opportunities to express

themselves, be social and constructive.

       Vygotsky (1978) supported the idea that instruction was the way children become

aware of and develop the ability to manipulate and control language. He believed mastery

of written language was a key element to this process. However, he opposed teachers

being guided by scripts from teaching materials, as in the tightly scripted phonics lessons,

which do not allow children time to be social learners. These lessons were more teacher-

directed and less student-directed while allowing for little socialization. Whole language

and balanced literacy instruction provides children with increased interaction when

learning and develops socialization skills (Moats, 2000).

       Vygotsky (1978) became known as a constructive learning theorist because he

believed children learn by connecting new knowledge with previously learned knowledge

(scaffolding). He also believed when children could not make connections with previous

knowledge, they simply memorized the needed information but did not fully understand

or comprehend the new learning (pp. 84-91). Applying the developmental milestones of

Chall (1996) and Piaget (1952) allows children to learn at the developmentally

appropriate timelines and guides teachers in their planning and instruction.
                                                                                            33
Howard Gardner

       Howard Gardner (1978) identified eight different intelligences (linguistic, logical-

mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal).

Rather than concentrating efforts on one intelligence area, Gardner (1978) proposed

teachers should teach using a variety of intelligences, addressing the individual gifts of all

students. Students respond better to new material quicker when they are exposed to new

learning through their preferred intelligence. Teachers should present material through

music, cooperative learning activities, art, role-playing, multimedia, field trips, and inner

reflection (p. 338). Gardner‘s (1978) theory of multiple intelligences allows teachers to

determine effective ways of presenting material in order for students to successfully

master any academic endeavor. Armstrong (1994) challenged teachers to use Gardner‘s

(1978) theory of multiple intelligences so teaching does not take the form of dry lectures,

boring worksheets, and boring textbooks (pp. 1-4). The whole language or balanced

literacy classroom adheres to Gardner‘s (1978) recommendations as well as Armstrong‘s

challenge. However, the phonics based classroom does not take Gardner‘s intelligences

into consideration due to the nature of the strictly scripted phonics lessons.

       Honig (1997) found a balanced reading program includes strategies that develop

immediate word recognition. He stated, ―In first-grade, recognizing individual words

contributes about 80% of passage meaning‖ (p. 2). Reading programs using strategies

such as flashcards, cheers, movement, etc. allow readers to learn basic sight words

through the use of multiple intelligences. The Dr. Cupp Readers employs this method for

teaching students many of the Dolch basic sight words. Research by Armstrong (2004)
                                                                                            34
supported the notion of allowing instruction to be guided by tried and true

recommendations of educational theorists, such as Gardner‘s (1978) multiple

intelligences. Armstrong (2004) stated, ―Reading strategies aimed at multiple

intelligences can make literacy come to life for all students‖ (p.1).

         Whole language and/or balanced literacy classrooms promote the use of

Gardner‘s (1978) multiple intelligences. Throughout the school day, kindergarten

students are exposed to the different intelligences during center time activities. Many

times the teacher presents information in a chosen intelligence while having the student

review it in their chosen method of intelligence. For example, a student might make up a

rap song using the new word(s) rather than simply making a sentence using the new

word(s). For the artistic child, they might choose to draw a picture depicting the new

words.

B. F. Skinner

         Skinner (1974) was a well-known psychologist, taking on the behaviorist theory

of learning, due to his concentration on the modifiable behavior of individuals. The

behaviors Skinner (1974) were most concerned with were not the typical misbehaviors of

children (hitting, pinching, etc.) but rather the behaviors a child exhibits which do not

produce desired results. For example, suppose a student does not write a letter correctly.

The teacher demonstrates how to write the letter correctly and allows the child a chance

to do it again. If the child performed as expected, the teacher would reward the child for

correct behavior. Skinner (1974) believed each individual controls their own behavior
                                                                                           35
and could be taught to change that behavior based on certain rewards or manipulations by

other individuals.

       Skinner (1974) was also a proponent of positive reinforcement for the typical

behaviors of children (hitting, pinching, etc.) rather than the punishment children for this

behavior. Skinner (1974) believed punishment does not teach individuals how to behave

well, does not necessarily eliminate the undesirable behavior, and often results in even

worse behaviors. Rather than punishing a child for the behavior, he preferred children be

shown how to correctly handle the situation in the future.

       Skinner‘s (1974) statement, ―Stop making all students advance at the same rate.

Let them move at their own pace‖ (p. 951) causes problems for students in a phonics

based classroom where the lessons are scripted and students all move along together in

the lessons. However, in the whole language or balanced literacy classroom, flexibility is

given so that reteaching or extra time is allotted for students experiencing difficulty.

       Skinner (1974) believed strongly in a direct linkage between the instruments

being used and what is measured from the specific instrument. In Phonics K classrooms,

there is definite linkage, as Skinner (1974) favored, when students are assessed using a

worksheet similar to the one they practiced on during the previous week. However, in

whole language or balanced literacy classrooms, there is much more authentic work by

students.

       Skinner (1974) was very direction oriented and favored students being given

directives from the teacher and expected to perform according to those directives. Stahl

(1994) found direct-instruction approaches were originally developed to teach decoding
                                                                                           36
and did so through task analysis (p.8). Skinner (1974) supported teaching done in

increments where students were rewarded immediately thereafter. Stahl (1994) also

found direct-instruction proponents view ―reading‖ as a process composed of isolated sub

processes or sub skills, and ―reading instruction‖ as using a set of procedures to teach

students each of these sub processes (p.8).

       Skinner‘s (1974) theory of reinforcement led to programmed instruction and

outcome-oriented instruction in classrooms across the United States. The characteristics

of programmed instruction included: behavioral objectives, small frames of instruction,

self-pacing, active learner response to questions, and immediate feedback. This led to a

shift in educational focus to the outcome behaviors of the learner (chapter 4). This kind of

instruction is very prevalent in phonics based classrooms but not typically found in whole

language or balanced literacy classrooms.

                                     Dr. Cupp Readers

       Dr. Cupp (2004) developed a reading program called Dr. Cupp Readers. Dr.

Cupp stated,

       IQ and many of the other categories we spend so much time discussing is not
       important. I believe a teacher should find out what the students know, make a
       sequential plan for instruction and begin teaching. The most important factor is to
       pace your students so you move forward when they are ready, not when a reading
       program says they should be ready. If you are using material that is sequential and
       cumulative, then one reading program should be able to meet the needs of 99
       percent of your students. You will need to move at a slower pace for the slower
       learner and a faster pace for the gifted student, but learning to read is learning to
       read. The pacing is the difference in instruction. (Cupp, 2004, p. 7)

       Part 1 of Dr. Cupp‘s program was specifically designed for kindergarten students

but also benefits remedial or special education students (K-5). This part teaches students
                                                                                           37
the first 110 Dolch sight words, beginning phonics skills, short, long, and r-controlled

vowels, as well as two-syllable words. The students learn to read and comprehend on a

beginning first-grade level. Advanced students read on second grade level or even higher.

       The program normally starts out in kindergarten classrooms with students in a

readiness program. In this part of the program, students learn to automatically read eight

sight words, the name and sound for the letters a, t, m, c, r, and b, and the rime at.

Students must successfully complete the reading readiness program in order to move to

Part 1 of the Dr. Cupp Readers (Cupp, 2004, p. 9).

       The readiness lessons feature eight language arts components (phonemic

awareness, phonics, spelling, fluency-sight words, grammar, creative writing, listening,

and speaking). The readiness lessons usually take the first six weeks of the kindergarten

year. ―These lessons may be used with older students, but at a faster pace. If students in

kindergarten grasp the skills quicker, they move at a faster rate‖ (Cupp, 2004, p. 4). The

teacher teaches the first ten lessons in whole group format. Lesson 11 begins small group

instruction where two or three adults work with students in small group rotations. At least

three groups are in each classroom for the reading group rotations. ―Group A will be the

faster moving students; group B will be the average moving students; and group C will be

the slower moving students‖ (Cupp, 2004, p. 5).

       Dr. Cupp designed the program so focus skills are taught daily. The focus skills

are: alphabet letters, alphabet sounds, and sight words. Students learn one new alphabet

letter per week during the first six weeks. Sight word instruction begins with Lesson 4.

―Some beginning readers learn sight words easier than they learn letters and sounds.
                                                                                          38
Sight words make sense. Isolated letters and sounds do not have meaning for some

beginning readers‖ (Cupp, 2004, p. 5).

       Students take individual assessments for readiness after Lessons 8, 15, 20, 25, and

30. ―If most students do not pass the assessment, do not move the small group to the next

lesson. Go back and reteach the previous five readiness lessons until most of the students

pass the assessment‖ (Cupp, 2004, p. 5). The individual assessments include alphabet

letters, alphabet sounds, spelling, and sentence completion. Students are also assessed on

sight words.

       Dr. Cupp‘s program provides many materials and games (The Wordhouse Book,

AlphaMotion Alphabet Cards and CD, Little AlphaMotion Cards, Ten Minute Phonics

Toolbox Decks, Phonics Readiness Charts, Hop ‗n Pop Cheer Cards, ThinkerBox Books,

and much more), which may be used to reinforce and teach skills. Children love the

different games and activities and feel as if they are simply playing rather than learning.

       The reading lesson starts off each day with students singing and making motions

to the Alpha Motion song. The teacher stands in front of the students holding the Alpha

Motion Alphabet Cards. After the song, the teacher uses flashcards to review all

uppercase and lowercase letters with the students.

       The next component of the reading program is a quick review of the sight words

covered up to this point in the reading program. The teacher introduces two new words

each week in the beginning of the program. At approximately six weeks into the program,

the teacher begins introducing four new words each week. The teacher places a picture
                                                                                             39
card and the new word card in the front of the classroom as visual reminders to students

to help them learn the new words.

       Students then play a game entitled, Pop Up. The teacher gives each student an

index card with a sight word on it. The teacher calls out directions to indicate which child

should pop up out of their seat and show their sight word. The teacher uses only the most

recently covered sight words.

       Students play a game called Hop It. The teacher divides the students into two

groups. The teacher stands in front of the class with the sight word cards. The two

groups are: Say It (the word) and Use It (the word in a sentence). The teacher sets the

timer for three minutes. Students take turns saying the word and using the word in a

sentence. When the child says it correctly, they hop to the end of the line and the next two

students participate. The teacher keeps a chart in the room to track the number of words

covered in three minutes. Students then return to the carpeted area of the classroom

where the teacher uses card decks to teach blending of sounds to make words. Students

make and review word families.

       The teacher reads a story to the class. The class discusses the story in detail. At

the end of the story, the teacher writes the name of the story on the board along with the

names of the main characters in the story. The teacher encourages the students to draw a

picture about the story and write a sentence telling about their picture.

       The teacher uses magazine pictures to teach students how to come up with ideas

for writing sentences. The teacher selects three or four students daily to orally give a

sentence about the picture. Students help sound out selected words in the sentence. The
                                                                                          40
class reads the chart when finished. The teacher hangs the charts around the classroom

for a period of about one week. The teacher then takes the charts down and sends them

home with students.

       The teacher divides the class into three or four groups based upon ability for

guided reading. Three adults work with students during this time - (one teacher, two

paraprofessionals). The teacher assigns one group of students to a paraprofessional, who

plays a game called Hop N Pop with the students. The students read a designated number

of covered sight words in a specified amount of time. Students catch Hop N Pop when

they read the words in the allotted amount of time. The other paraprofessional works with

the students on a literacy component called Ten Minute Phonics. The paraprofessional

shows the students a list of previously taught alphabet letters. Students give the sound for

each letter. The paraprofessional shows the students‘ rimes. The students read the rimes.

The paraprofessional works with the students on learning to put onset and rime together

to make words. The teacher‘s group works on fluency and comprehension. The teacher

uses various techniques to help the students develop fluency (round robin reading, choral

reading, etc.). The teacher uses one passage for teaching comprehension. Students read

and discuss the passage. The teacher asks questions to aid with comprehension of

material. The last group of students works independently on journal writing or a

handwriting activity. The groups rotate every 15-20 minutes. Each adult in the room

works with each child every day.
                                                                                          41
       Part 1 of the program has 30 readers with 16 pages each. The readers have four

sections: Comprehension and Fluency, Hop ‗n Pop sight words – high-frequency words,

Ten Minute Phonics, and Independent Work/Center and Assessment (Cupp, 2004).

       Dr. Cupp‘s reading program follows guidelines presented by theorists Vygotsky

(1978), Skinner (1974), and Gardner (1978). Dr. Cupp Readers allow for student‘s ZPD

(zone of proximal development) to be identified and appropriate instruction to follow as

recommended by Vygotsky (1978). Students are assessed throughout the program and are

allowed to move at their own pace as recommended by Vygotsky (1978). Students

receive reinforcement as recommended by Skinner (1974) throughout the program. Dr.

Cupp‘s program also follows Gardner‘s (1978) recommendation to make learning

meaningful by using different modalities for learning thereby reaching more students. Dr.

Cupp‘s reading program did not appear to have Piaget‘s (1952) symbolic play, but did

incorporate some language games as well as various literary forms.

                                         Phonics K

       The Phonics K (2003) program is an intense, whole group, systematic phonics

program. Saxon publisher‘s philosophy focused on building on prior learning and

requires systematic, sequential teaching. ―New learning is presented in increments and

each increment is reviewed every day for the entire year‖ through the scripted lessons

(Simmons, 1996, p. 5). These scripted lessons contain questioning strategies which allow

for active participation by students. Teachers are encouraged to use various activities

included in the lessons to allow for different learning modalities of students.
                                                                                            42
       Phonics K (2003) is not a total reading program but can be used as a supplement

to any other reading program. The goal for Phonics K (2003) is to present students with

phonetically based reading readiness skills so that when students are developmentally

ready, they can read. Phonics K (2003) does not provide any ―quality literature‖ and

therefore, will not suffice as a total reading program (Simmons, 1996).

       The program teaches students how to read by introducing them to language in
       small increments. Students are taught to ―code‖ words by identifying the sound
       each letter/letter cluster makes, thus enabling them to read, and eventually to
       spell, those words. A series of spelling rules explaining typical patterns used to
       spell words is taught. These words are displayed on wall charts hung around the
       classroom so that they may be referred to easily. Words that do not follow the
       spelling rules are displayed on posters. (Phonics K-2: An Incremental
       Development, Saxon teacher‘s resource booklet, 1998, p. 1)

       Kindergarten teachers are encouraged to use the phonemic awareness

preassessment to identify if students are developmentally ready to begin phonics

instruction. The results of the test are interpreted and the teacher is able to group students

into categories: a) students with a high level of phonemic awareness and are ready to

begin the program, b) students with sufficient phonemic awareness who can start but

need monitoring, and c) students who do not possess the requisite level of phonemic

awareness for the phonics instruction to be beneficial.

       Once daily instruction begins with Phonics K (2003), teachers are encouraged to

teach four lessons per week. The fifth day of each week is to be used to reteach difficult

lessons, play games, give assessments, review areas needing more practice, or to meet

special school district objections. ―Teaching a lesson (which includes the presentation of

new learning and review of decks, as well as alphabet, phonemic awareness, and spelling

sound activities), should take about 30 minutes‖ (Simmons, 1996, p. 6). The program also
                                                                                               43
includes other components (handwriting, worksheet, practice, assessment, and reading

activities) as well as individual and/or group remediation which requires extra time

beyond the thirty minutes. The design of the program allows these activities to take place

in a sequential order. Teachers are encouraged to do all parts of the Phonics K (2003) as

indicated in the daily scripted teacher‘s manual.

       Phonics K (2003) offers recommendations for slowing, accelerating, or modifying

the program to meet the needs of a whole class or individual students. To slow the

program to benefit a the class, the teacher may either present new material only when you

have a full five-day school week to do so and/or during short weeks (four or fewer school

days), review previously taught information and play games to reinforce weak skills

(Simmons, 1996). To accelerate the pace of the program to benefit the class, the teacher

may either try to complete the four scheduled lessons in the days available during short

weeks and/or try to complete more than one worksheet per day. In order to accommodate

slower learners, teachers are encouraged to either help the student complete worksheets,

doing only portions the individual student is able to master, or use letter tiles instead of

teaching daily handwriting. In order to accommodate brighter students, teachers are

encouraged to either allow the student to complete worksheets independently, and/or

provide extra books for students ready to read.

       Phonics K (2003) promotes working in small groups during a different time of the

day so each student has opportunities to learn and concepts may be reinforced.

Worksheets may be completed during this time so each type of learner is able to complete

the worksheets according to their ability.
                                                                                              44
        While it is not necessary for all students to achieve mastery of previously taught
        material before moving on to new material, adherence to the review process
        ensures that any student who has not mastered a skill will be given subsequent
        opportunities to do so. (Simmons, 1996, p. 7)

        Phonics K (2003) allows the teacher to decide which style of handwriting

instruction to provide for their students and whether or not to even focus on handwriting

skills or not. The alphabet strip used in Phonics K (2003) shows D‘Nealian handwriting

on one side and block-style handwriting on the other side of the strip. However, ―letters

shown on the worksheets, letter tiles, charts, and reader booklets are modeled after the

Times-Roman, the standard print in newspapers, which is what most of the students will

see when reading‖ (Simmons, 1996, p. 8).

        The Phonics K (2003) kit comes complete with the following: a) review card

decks, b) kid card decks, c) wall charts, d) alphabet strips, e) letter tiles, f) worksheets, g)

spelling sound sheets, h) word lists, and i) readers. The review card decks contain letter

cards, picture cards, and spelling cards. The letter cards are used to review each

letter/letter cluster taught, help students learn letter names and to help students recognize

letters/letter clusters in print. ―The picture cards feature illustrations that represent

‗keywords‘ which are used to remind students of specific letter sounds they may have

forgotten‖ (Simmons, 1996, p. 8). The spelling cards identify sounds and letter(s) that

make each sound.

        ―The kid cards are made up of orange letter cards, purple word cards, and red

picture cards‖ (Simmons, 1996, p. 8). These cards are used during teacher guided

activities, independent activities, and games. Small groups of students may use the cards

for remediation or practice.
                                                                                             45
       The wall charts include letter charts, letter combination/digraph charts, sight word

charts, syllable division chart, and rule charts. The 26 letter charts are displayed

throughout the school year and ―feature letters of the alphabet and pictures that represent

the corresponding keywords‖ (Simmons, 1996, p. 9). The letter combination/digraph

charts, the sight word charts, the syllable division chart, and the rule charts are added to

the classroom walls as the specific skills are taught.

       Each student receives a complete set of 32 sturdy plastic coated cardboard letter

tiles (26 letters plus 6 blanks). These tiles can be used during teacher directed as well as

independent activities. ―The tiles feature uppercase letters on one side, lowercase letters

on the other. Four different background patterns (stars, moons, hearts, and clovers)

prevent mix-ups when students work in small groups (Simmons, 1996, p. 9).

       Students complete at least one non-graded worksheet in class every day. These

worksheets provide practice reinforcing new learning and reviewing previously taught

material. ―Students should be seated in small groups for the worksheet activities, which

are usually teacher-directed but are occasionally completed independently‖ (Simmons,

1996, p. 9). The worksheets may have handwriting or a spelling sound work on the back.

The student‘s paper should be checked daily, corrected, and sent home with the student.

―Students also use a spelling sound sheet to record sounds given by the teacher during

spelling sounds activities‖ (Simmons, 1996, p. 9). The spelling sound sheets have lines

for students to write the appropriate letter(s). The first spelling sound sheets have five

lines and increase to 39 towards the end of the school year. The spelling sound sheets are

not graded but should be reviewed by the teacher for accuracy.
                                                                                             46
       Students are given a weekly word list containing words made up of previously

taught sounds. The students are expected to read the words to the teacher and encouraged

to take the lists home to read the words to their parents. The word lists consist of very

simple three letter word combinations.

       Sixteen small reader booklets are prepared for the students over the course of the

school year. The program uses a controlled vocabulary so students are exposed only to

words containing letters, letter clusters, and sounds previously taught. The first fifteen

booklets allow students to read simple stories using words the students should be able to

read since they have previously been taught all sounds making up those words. ―The

sixteenth reader contains an extensive list of words, all of which the students should be

able to read‖ (Simmons, 1996, p. 10). The students take the books home to read to their

parents and are encouraged to use the books for future practice.

       Oral assessments occur after every four lessons until lesson 100. After this point,

students are not assessed because ―students are not expected to master that material‖

(Simmons, 1996, p. 10). The teacher should assess students individually, one-on-one.

Assessments cover materials students have practiced for at least ten days. Students are

considered successful if eighty percent of the tested material is achieved. The teacher is

encouraged to reteach specific skills or concepts when the majority of students

experience difficulty. The program includes individual assessment forms to ―allow the

teacher to record each student‘s answers, and after recording the score on the classroom

recording form, send the assessment home for parents to view‖ (Simmons, 1996, p. 10).
                                                                                           47
       Because Phonics K (2003) is not a reading program; it was more difficult for the

program to follow the recommendations of the educational theorists specifically as they

related to reading instruction. Phonics K (2003) is used as a supplement to the Harcourt

reading program at the researcher‘s school. The program follows scripts, which Vygotsky

(1978) opposed. The only one of Gardner‘s (1978) levels of intelligence identified with

the program was the linguistic intelligence. Phonics K (2003) promotes learning by

reward as recommended by Skinner (1974) where students are positively reinforced when

they sound out words correctly or read the little reader booklets correctly.

                                         Harcourt

       Harcourt‘s (2003) reading series for kindergarten is titled Trophies. ―Trophies is a

research-based, developmental reading/language arts program. Explicit phonics

instruction; direct reading instruction; guided reading strategies; phonemic awareness

instruction; systematic, intervention strategies; integrated language arts components; and

state-of-the-art assessment tools ensure every student successfully learns to read‖

(Harcourt website, 2006).

       Harcourt‘s (2003) Trophies kindergarten reading series contains 35 weeks of daily

lesson plans divided into three teacher edition volumes of four themes each. The kit is

composed of: a) reading materials (14 big books, 14 little books, a big book of rhymes

and songs, a big book audio text collection, a 24 book classroom library collection, 35

independent readers, 37 predecodable/decodable books for classroom use, 37

predecodable/decodable books for take home use, and a read aloud anthology); b)

manipulatives (sets of five tactile letter cards, write-on/wipe-off boards with phonemic
                                                                                               48
awareness disks, letter, and sound place mats, word builders and cards, and magnetic

letters); c) phonics materials (12 practice books, a phonics practice book, and a phonics

practice book copying master); d) teaching tools (teacher‘s editions, big alphabet cards,

picture cards/picture word cards, 24 high-frequency word cards, alphabet cards, a

teacher‘s resource book, Oo-pples and Boo-noo-noos: Songs and Activities for Phonemic

Awareness, Second Edition with CD, letter and sound charts, letter and sound chart

sentence strips, and Alphie Rabbit Puppet); and e) an assessment handbook (Harcourt

Trophies Kindergarten In-Service Guide, 2002, pp. 1-3).

       Harcourt‘s (2003) kindergarten program teaches phonemic awareness and print

awareness. Each letter is taught through a series of lessons that follow the same sequence

of instruction and includes lots of opportunities for word blending and building: a)

phonemic awareness; b) introduce and write the letter; c) identify and review the sound to

the letter; d) relating the sound to the letter; and e) early reading, blending and building

(Harcourt Trophies Kindergarten In-service Guide, 2002, p. 4).

       The teacher‘s edition provides a shared, interactive, and independent writing

lesson for each theme. Lessons include practice in all stages of the writing process

(Harcourt Trophies Kindergarten In-service Guide, 2002, p. 5).

       Harcourt (2003) provides assessment tools, which can be used to: a) monitor

children‘s ongoing development of reading skills, b) build a solid base for planning

instruction, c) construct a comprehensive picture of children‘s progress, d) provide

practical suggestions for using assessment results, and e) determines the instructional

needs of individual children (Beck, Farr & Strickland, 2003).
                                                                                          49
       Harcourt (2003) presents the materials in theme format. The theme resources are

displayed in picture format in the heavy, spiral bound teacher‘s volumes. Harcourt‘s

(2003) ―Theme at a Glance‖ provides teachers with a week-by-week lesson plan layout

for each theme. The various reading components (sharing literature, listening

comprehension, phonemic awareness, early literacy skills, reading, writing, and cross

curricular centers) are identified with specific ideas for covering those components

(Beck, Farr, & Strickland, 2003). Tested skills are identified by the T symbol. Teachers

are provided many activities and are allowed flexibility in choosing which activities they

choose to use to cover the objective.

       Harcourt (2003) provides additional support materials for the different kinds of

learners (below-level, English-language learners, advanced, combination classrooms, and

special needs students). Specific ideas for meeting the needs of these children are

identified in table format by page numbers. On the identified pages, teachers choose from

a variety of activities to accommodate these learners. A recommended reading list

provides teachers with appropriate materials to meet the diverse needs in a kindergarten

classroom.

       Each theme contains a reproducible homework idea sheet which maybe sent home

allowing the parents to become involved in their child‘s educational experience. Theme

project ideas and learning center (writing, science, sand and water, math, dramatic play,

art, social studies, and block center) ideas are also presented. The suggested lesson

planner lays out the theme activities in a week-by-week and day-by-day format.
                                                                                            50
Harcourt‘s (2003) layout is very easy to follow and provides many colorful examples and

illustrations for the teacher.

        The day-by-day pages contain scripted lessons for the teacher to follow as well as

small illustrations of the student workbook page to accompany the particular lesson.

Specific objectives, materials needed, additional support materials for diverse learners,

and assessment suggestions are identified for each daily lesson. Because each theme is a

little different, the teacher must follow the teacher‘s manual when teaching the Harcourt

(2003) reading series.

        Students are given many opportunities to practice writing in the Harcourt (2003)

series. Students copy a sentence each day from the board. Students work cooperatively to

generate lists, sentences, and even stories. Students have journals in which they write on

identified as well as self-selected topics.

        The Harcourt (2003) reading series aligned with recommendations from all the

educational theorists presented. Piaget‘s (1952) symbolic play, language games, and the

presentation of various literacy forms were evident throughout the program. Vygotsky‘s

(1978) individualized instruction, role playing, journal writing, and socio dramatic play

were evident throughout the program. Many activities were available for whole class,

small group, and one-on-one experiences for children of all ability levels. Skinner‘s

(1974) behaviorist approach to learning takes place in the repeated readings of the books

where children memorize the words and are not truly reading the books but rather

imitating the reading they have heard. Gardner‘s (1978) theory of multiple intelligences

was found throughout the use of the program.
                                                                                           51
                                      Previous Research

         The NRP (2000), established by the National Institute of Child Health and Human

Development, and the U.S. Secretary of Education, identified three major components

critical to learning to read: alphabetic principles, fluency, and comprehension. The panel

divided these into 5 sub-categories: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary,

and text comprehension. The researcher identified research on each of the five sub

categories and shows how the reading programs used adhered to these recommendations.

Phonemic Awareness

         Arbruster, Lehr, and Osborn, (2001) stated ―phonemic awareness helps students

recognize that language is made up of sounds, which will ultimately help them read

words rapidly and accurately‖ (p. 6). Research by Stanovich and Cunningham (1998)

found phonemic awareness is the most potent predictor of success in learning to read

while Adams (1990) found the lack of phonemic awareness is the most powerful

determinant of failure to learn to read. Adams (1990) also found phonemic awareness to

be the essential core and causal factor separating normal and disabled readers.

         When one learns to manipulate sounds in words and syllables by blending,

substituting, deleting or separating sounds, the child is said to be phonemically aware.

This makes it possible for students to use and understand strategies taught during

phonics. This may also help children learn to spell because ―children who have phonemic

awareness understand that sounds and letters are related in a predictable way. They are

able to relate the sounds to letters as they spell words‖ (Arbruster, Lehr, & Osborn, 2001,

p. 6).
                                                                                          52
       Dr. Cupp Readers focuses heavily on teaching phonemic awareness during the

first six weeks of the program during the reading readiness lessons. The teacher models

the activity first by saying the name of the specific objects and students repeat. The

teacher names the objects again in two parts and the students put the parts together to

make words. This skill continues to be practiced throughout the remainder of the program

on page six of each reader booklet where the student practices onset and rime. Students

are introduced to sound blending with simple three letter words using frequently used

consonants with short vowel sounds. Students move on to blending long vowel sound

words later in the program. Dr. Cupp Readers teaches students to manipulate phonemes

by focusing on a few at a time. Direct exercises in each booklet allow students to practice

phonemes; onset and rime with simple sound it out words. Dr. Cupp‘s Wordhouse book

is a tool used for teaching as well as reinforcing short and long vowel sounds and

common phonics rules. The students relate well to the story and use the story to help

remember letter sounds or the rules that help students make the correct sound.

       Phonics K (2003) practices this skill on a daily basis at the beginning of each

phonics lesson. In the beginning of the school year, the activities for phonemic awareness

begin simple with students distinguishing between sounds by identifying same or

different. The lessons move on to include more complex skills such as: a) distinguishing

words by same and different; b) identifying rhyming words, sentences, and compound

words; c) sound blending; initial, medial and final sound identification; syllabication; d)

sound manipulation and substitution; and e) and vowel sound identification. Phonics K
                                                                                            53
(2003) prides itself on teaching kindergarten students the formal names for groups of

letters (combinations and digraphs).

       The Harcourt (2003) basal series uses daily activities for developing phonemic

awareness throughout the school year. The program teaches phonemes with alphabet

letters to help children learn letter-sound relationships. Phonemic awareness lessons teach

children to notice, think about, and manipulate sounds. Harcourt (2003) combines each

phonemic awareness activity with a phonics lesson, which focuses on a specific skill.

Harcourt (2003) focuses on phoneme isolation, identity, categorization, blending, and

manipulation.

Phonics

       Snow, Burns and Griffin, in Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children

(1998), verified the importance of a strong phonics base. They stated ―getting started in

alphabetic reading depends critically on mapping letters and spellings of words into

speech units that they represent; failure to master word recognition can impede text

comprehension‖ (Snow et al., 1998, p. 18). These authors encouraged teachers to use

small group activities in order to create chances for more intensive teaching as well as

individualized participation. Burns, Griffin, and Snow (1999) in Starting out Right,

encouraged positive learning experiences where the environment creates enthusiasm and

success in learning to read and write. Share et al. (1984) in a Journal of Educational

Psychology article reported ―teaching children to manipulate phonemes in words was

highly effective across all literacy domains and outcomes‖ and ―these measures best
                                                                                            54
predict how well students will be reading at the end of kindergarten and first-grade‖ (p.

1320).

         The NRP (2000) found explicit phonemic awareness instruction helps all

beginning readers, including those having reading difficulties and English-language

learners. Summaries of research in Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children

justified the recommendation of a systematic phonics program. Chall (1967), Adams

(1990) as well as Stebbins, St. Pierre, Proper, Anderson, and Cerva (1977) all reached a

consensus - in separate studies - regarding systematic phonics instruction where they

found a consistent advantage for students in a systematic phonics program. Another panel

of scholars compiled findings in the same book:

         There is overwhelming evidence that explicit instruction that directs children‘s
         attention to the phonological structure of oral language and to the connections
         between phonemes and spellings help children who have not grasped the
         alphabetic principle or who do not apply it productively when they encounter
         unfamiliar printed words. (Snow et al., 1998, p. 321)

         Dr. Cupp Readers (2004) teaches phonics through the use of the Wordhouse book

and the AlphaMotion song. During reading readiness, students learn hand signs and

sounds for letters of the alphabet. The teacher reads selected pages of the Wordhouse

book and introduces seven letters/hand signs at the time and students sing that portion of

the AlphaMotion song. By the end of the fourth week of school, students are exposed to

all 26 alphabet letters and sounds (short vowel sounds only at this point). Students

continue to sing the AlphaMotion song and make hand signs for as long as deemed

necessary. When students begin the reader booklets, they progress at their own rate
                                                                                           55
through the material so each student works on the specific letters and sounds they need to

learn.

         Phonics K (2003) teaches one letter at a time. The program focuses on each letter

for four days in a row. Various activities during the four days allow the student to

concentrate on that letter, the sound it makes, and ways to manipulate the use of that

letter in various words. After lesson 104, students are taught various phonics rules and

how these rules are applied to reading words. Phonics K (2003) focuses on teaching

students coding marks and the phonetic language used to describe these marks (breve,

macron, digraph, combination, etc.). Students complete a daily worksheet where they

practice the skills taught.

         Harcourt (2003) teaches letter sounds and blending sounds into words in

decodable text. The student begins with simple vowel consonant and/or vowel consonant

vowel words. Harcourt (2003) uses a technique termed as word building where students

practice making words using previously taught letter sound relationships. This activity

requires students to focus their attention on those letters in sequence to make a word.

Students are taught to see words as patterns of letters, to identify long words by breaking

them down, and to blend chunks to form and read longer words.

Fluency

         Students who can read with speed, accuracy, and expression are reading fluently.

This skill must be developed through practice. Snow et al. (1998) recommended all

primary grade classes be taught the literacy components as well as practice them daily.

They recommend students be taught how to map speech sounds to parts, how to use
                                                                                            56
syntax and rhetorical structures to decipher words, how to comprehend passages using

strategies such as such as summarizing, predicting, and monitoring (Snow et al., 1998, p.

6).

         The NRP (2000) found, ―There is a close relationship between fluency and

reading comprehension. Students who are low in fluency may have difficulty getting the

meaning of what they read‖ (p. 311). Snow et al. (1998) stated, ―Adequate progress in

learning to read English (or, any alphabetic language) beyond the initial level depends on

sufficient practice in reading to achieve fluency with different texts‖ (p. 223).

         Kuhn and Stahl (2000) identified characteristics of fluency as: word recognition

accuracy, automaticity of decoding at a sufficient rate, and the use of prosody. Freedom

from word identification enables the reader to attend to meaning in text. Fluency is the

ability to decode and comprehend at the same time with little effort (Samuels & Farstrup,

1996).

         Teachers should provide opportunities for fluency development before, during,

and after reading lessons and should model fluent reading daily. Children should engage

in assisted practice activities that enable them to hear fluent reading modeled, such as

pairing with more able readers to do repeated readings. Kuhn and Stahl (2003) found

―repeated reading and other fluency-oriented approaches improve comprehension‖ (p. 8).

In order to be effective, the reading instruction used to develop fluency must include

more than independent silent reading, as it is not clear that reading silently to themselves

will increase students‘ fluency (NRP, 2000).
                                                                                           57
        After reading readiness, Dr. Cupp Readers (2004) use guided, unison, and

repeated reading for students to practice fluency. Students are able to develop the ability

to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression by practicing sight words lists and

reading stories. The teacher models and students follow along. Students are encouraged

to keep their place as reading shifts from one student to the next in round robin reading.

Stahl stated in his 2000 research with Kuhn, ―Teachers support fluency through repetition

and modeling‖ (p.4). Dr. Cupp Readers (2004) allow students to read on their own

independent level rather than the teaching level of a whole class.

        Beginning with lesson 27 in Phonics K (2003), students are introduced to sight

words and readers. The teacher models the reading of each book for the students. The

books are very simple in the beginning of the program since the vocabulary in the books

is limited to only those sounds the students have been taught. The emphasis at this point

is on teaching students how to read, not on teaching grammar (Simmons, p. 4, lesson 27).

Throughout the course of the Phonics K (2003) program students get 16 readers and learn

24 sight words. Phonics K (2003) provides 16 word lists, which students take home to

read to their parents.

        Harcourt (2003) provides 35 independent readers and 37 predecodable/decodable

books for classroom use. Teachers may opt to use these books for guided reading where

students learn to read fluently.

        In kindergarten and at the beginning of first-grade, oral reading may sound less
        like speech because students are still learning to decode and to identify words.
        Nevertheless, with appropriate guidance, independent-level text, and substantial
        practice, students begin to develop reading fluency. (Beck, Farr, & Strickland,
        2003, p. x)
                                                                                         58
Vocabulary

       Stahl and Fairbanks (1986), through meta-analysis research, found direct

instruction in vocabulary improves comprehension. Without the proper vocabulary, it is

next to impossible to understand story context (Stahl & Fairbanks, 1986). Teachers are

encouraged to select a few words based on need to know. The teacher may even allow the

students to help select the words. Activities to promote numerous exposures to these

words in meaningful contexts should be used. Students should engage in utilizing the

word meanings and be able to relate them to their own life experiences.

       Students who do not understand the vocabulary in a passage cannot possibly

comprehend its meaning. Kuhn and Stahl (2000) recommended children read widely and

in material which provides challenging words. Vocabulary instruction is an on-going

process and is supported by Kuhn and Stahl (2000) as they recommended using a variety

of approaches.

       Many times children learn word meaning from being read to by parents or other

adult readers who are able to explain meaning of unfamiliar text. They provide strategies

through conversations because the vocabulary of written language is more extensive and

richer than the vocabulary of the spoken language (Remillard, 2004). Nevertheless, all

students need direct instruction to become fluent readers and to improve their

comprehension. Direct vocabulary instruction provides students ―specific word

instruction‖ and ―teaches students word-learning strategies‖ (Arbruster, Lehr, & Osborn,

2001, p. 36).
                                                                                         59
       In order to have a good vocabulary, one must know not only the words but also

the versatility of language (Remillard, 2004). Using words more than once and in a

variety of contexts helps to reinforce vocabulary understanding (Allen, 1999). This

process takes readers from the basic recognition on one end of the vocabulary continuum

to the rich web of meanings and literacy experiences at the other (Remillard, 2004).

       Dr. Cupp Readers (2004) focuses on students learning a cumulative sight word

vocabulary consisting mostly of Dolch sight words. New vocabulary words are integrated

into stories in each reader booklet. Four new sight words are introduced with each new

reader booklet. Practice with these words occurs in both text and in isolation. These

words are repeated in subsequent lessons with the word list expanding with each new

book. This allows students to begin to read successfully right away.

       At least 85-95% of the text contains words already introduced in previous lessons,
       which not only allows the stories to become more complex in terms of
       vocabulary, comprehension, and interest; but also greatly increases the chances a
       child will succeed and begin a real reading experience within the first few lessons.
       (Miller, 2005, p. 3)

Newly introduced decodable words make up the remaining 5 to 15 % of text. One

component of Dr. Cupp Readers (2004) allows teachers to read appropriate literature to

students, which allows introduction of new vocabulary for students.

       Phonics K (2003) provides word lists for students beginning with lesson 25. The

list contains words made up of the letters and sounds students have learned. Students

sound out the words to learn new words. Students practice reading these words and

applying them in the context of reader booklets.
                                                                                               60
       Trade books are used to introduce students to new vocabulary in the Harcourt

(2003) series. Teachers read from the Read Aloud Anthologies so students may learn new

vocabulary. A library collection is included with each Harcourt (2003) kit. Teachers may

use these books to expose students to other vocabulary. Strategies such as using a

dictionary, using context to determine word meaning, understanding word structure, and

word relationships are suggested in the Harcourt (2003) teacher‘s manual.

Text Comprehension

       Pearson and Fielding (1996) found the amount of prior knowledge a reader brings

to text is the best determinant of how well the text will be understood and remembered.

―A causal relationship between background knowledge and comprehension exists‖ stated

Tierney and Cunningham (1984, p. 612). Cooper (2000) stated, ―Prior knowledge for

narrative texts are determined by the story line. The need for expository text is

determined by the topic, main ideas, and structure of the text‖ (p. 102). When students

understand the difference between structures of narrative and expository texts, they can

better assign meaning to the text structures. In order to help students with this, teachers

should incorporate activities, which activate students‘ prior knowledge, or schemata, and

lead active classroom discussions which enable students to add new information to what

they already know.

       Comprehension strategy instruction should take a multiple strategy method (NRP,

2000) rather than a single method approach. Comprehension strategy instruction must be

an integral part in the process of reading. Skills taught in isolation are rarely beneficial

and students must practice these strategies as they read across the curriculum.
                                                                                           61
Comprehension strategy instruction can begin early, even before students are able to read

print. The goal of reading instruction is to equip students with the strategic processes

necessary for independently processing print and assigning meaning to text. Providing a

framework of strategies and activities assists in helping students reach this goal.

       Dr. Cupp Readers (2004) instill reading comprehension immediately. From

simply sounding out words and understanding them in order to read and understand, Dr.

Cupp Readers (2004) allow many opportunities for teachers to question students

regarding their comprehension of text. Each reader booklet contains two to three passages

where students may be assessed for comprehension. Strategies are taught over time and

practiced throughout each reader booklet. Students are also read aloud to and questioned

using various forms of literature. The teacher models strategies and scaffolds as

necessary. Daily response to questions (both verbal and written) builds understanding and

increases oral language abilities of students.

       Phonics K (2003) provides opportunities for comprehension through the use of

the reader booklets. As students move through the booklets, the text becomes longer and

the teacher chooses which questions to use in checking for comprehension.

       Harcourt (2003) provides many opportunities for text comprehension.

―Comprehension instruction in kindergarten focuses on helping students construct

meaning from stories read to them‖ (Beck, Farr & Strickland, 2003, p. xv). Focus

strategies are provided in the teacher‘s manual for focus skill instruction regarding

comprehension. Teachers model the strategies and guide students to practice and apply

strategies in their own reading. Students respond to text read by the teacher with some
                                                                                         62
students learning to apply strategies they read to themselves. Students demonstrate

comprehension by answering questions, summarizing, recognizing story structure, and

making and confirming predictions. Harcourt (2003) provides a variety of fiction and

nonfiction selection so students can learn and apply comprehension strategies to various

genres. ―In kindergarten, students explore story elements, such as characters, setting, and

important events‖ (Beck, Farr, & Strickland, 2003, p. xv).

                                        Conclusion

       President Bush said, ―Too many of our neediest children are being left behind‖

(USDOE, 2001, ¶ 1) and ―We must confront the scandal of illiteracy in America, seen

most clearly in high-poverty schools, where nearly 70 percent of fourth-graders are

unable to read at a basic level‖ stated President Bush (USDOE, n.d., ¶ 6). In order to do

this, President Bush signed into law, NCLB (2001). The act basically amended the

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 and placed more guidelines on

schools and school systems. The acts have been revised and modified many times over

the years with NCLB being the latest revision. President Bush is convinced NCLB targets

areas to close an achievement gap amongst ethnic groups, all major socioeconomic

groups, English-language learners, and special education students, who have been

unsuccessful in achieving the quality of education needed for future success (USDOE,

2001, ¶ 4).

       One of the key components of NCLB (2001) is improving literacy by putting

reading first. In order to accomplish this tremendous assignment, NCLB focuses on

reading in the early grades. ―States that establish a comprehensive reading program
                                                                                             63
anchored in scientific research from kindergarten to second grade will be eligible for

grants under a new Reading First initiative‖ (USDOE, 2001, ¶ 4). ―States participating in

the Reading First program will have the option to receive funding from a new ‗Early

Reading First‘ program to implement research-based prereading methods in

prekindergarten programs, including Head Start centers‖ (USDOE, 2001, ¶ 4).

       The researcher presents findings to support a reading readiness program to meet

the needs of students while also expanding the current research on reading readiness

programs available for kindergarten students. Reading textbook/program adoption will

occur in the next school year. Prior to that adoption, the researcher will present evidence

of the effectiveness of two reading programs used during the last school year. This study

allows the local school system personnel to make an informed decision regarding

appropriate reading materials for the kindergarten students. The results of this study

gravitate out from the researcher‘s school to other school systems and states, which

currently use the identified reading materials. The results benefit overall education in a

broader, global manner.

       The focus of this modified quasi-experimental research study was to identify

which reading program provides greater gains on the literacy section of the GKAP-R for

students in two different reading programs. The quantitative approach was the best mode

of research to address the relationship between the GKAP-R literacy scores of the two

opposing programs. Chapter 3 presents the methodology used in this localized

demonstration research study.
                              CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY

                                         Introduction

        The purpose of this modified quasi-experimental research study was to examine

the impact of reading program instruction (Dr. Cupp Readers and Phonics K/Harcourt

basal readers) on the GKAP-R literacy scores of identified classes of kindergarten

students enrolled at the researcher‘s school in central GA. Three classes were chosen by

purposeful sampling to participate in the study (two EIP classes and one regular

education class). The researcher was the teacher of one of the EIP classes of students.

        All children who registered for kindergarten were tested in the spring of the year

using the Bracken (1998). The Bracken (1998) is used ―to assess the basic concept

development of children in the age range of 2 years 6 months through 7 years 11 months‖

(p. 1). The test is administered one-on-one with concepts presented orally. Eleven

subtests of concept categories (colors, letters, numbers/counting, sizes comparisons,

shapes, direction/position, self/social awareness, texture/material, quantity, and

time/sequence) are given to students. The first six subtests make up the School Readiness

Composite (SRC). This section ―assesses children‘s knowledge of those readiness

concepts parents and teachers traditionally teach children in preparation for formal

education‖ (p.1). The next eleven subtests require the testing administrator to determine a

starting point for the next set of subtests.

        Testing administrators begin with question one for each of the first six subtests.

The testing administrator stops the particular subtest and moves to the next subtest when

a student misses three items in a row. This procedure is followed through all six subtests.
                                                                                            65
When all six subtests are completed, the testing administrator calculates the SRC raw

score by totaling all subtests scores. The testing administrator proceeds to the starting

point table to locate the child‘s SRC raw score and then determine the letter or number

for starting item on subsequent subtests. The testing administrator continues testing on

each subtest until the student misses three consecutive items. Totaled raw scores on the

SRC and the seven final subtests allow for the testing administrator to determine a

percentile rank, a level of conceptual development, and a concept age equivalent for each

child (Bracken Examiner‘s Manual, 1998). The reliability of the Bracken (Bracken Basic

Concept Scale – Revised, BBCS-R) was estimated in two ways: by examining its internal

consistency and test-retest stability, and the standards errors of measurement examination

(Bracken Examiner‘s Manual, 1998). In the examiner‘s manual, Estabrook described the

Bracken as ―the most comprehensive measure of basic concepts available.‖

       Two EIP classes participated in the study. Students were placed in EIP classes

based on Bracken percentile scores and teacher recommendation. Students who scored

below the 20% percentile on the Bracken were considered for placement in EIP classes.

The remainder of the students who scored in the 20th percentile were randomly placed in

regular education kindergarten classes. Out of the control of the researcher, students who

transferred into the school or enrolled late might have been placed in EIP classrooms due

to space limitations and the lack of Bracken scores being available. Other students were

conveniently placed in the EIP classrooms because they were repeating kindergarten and

had been in the opposing reading program the prior year.
                                                                                          66
                               Research Design and Approach

       The researcher chose to use the quasi-experimental group design of Campbell and

Stanley (1963) as the bases for the design of this research study. The pretest-posttest

control group design was used (Figure 1). Because of the fluid population and the lack of

intact classrooms at the researcher‘s school, modifications were made to the research

design in order to complete the study. Research by Coyne, Kame‘enui, and Simmons

(2001) suggests there is a relationship b

etween appropriate reading instruction and reading readiness. It is suspected that using a

balanced literacy program increases literacy score gains on the GKAP-R.

                  Group A        O1-------------------X----------------------O2
                  ----------------------------------------------------------------
                  Group B O1-------------------------------------------O2

Figure 1. Pretest and posttest control group design

                            Research Questions and Hypotheses

Quantitative Questions and Hypotheses

       1. What is the difference in class gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-

R for students utilizing Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series when compared to

students utilizing Dr. Cupp Readers combining eight literacy components?

       Null Hypothesis: There is no significant difference in class gain scores on the

literacy section of the GKAP-R for students utilizing Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading

series when compared to students utilizing Dr. Cupp Readers combining eight literacy

components.
                                                                                            67
       Alternative Hypothesis: There is a significant difference in class gain scores on

the literacy section of the GKAP-R for students utilizing Phonics K/Harcourt basal

reading series when compared to students utilizing Dr. Cupp Readers combining eight

literacy components.

       2. What is the difference in gain scores on the GKAP-R among students in the

two opposing programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)

for students of different gender?

       Null Hypothesis: There is no significant difference in gain scores for students of

different gender and in the opposing programs.

       Alternative Hypothesis: There is a significant difference in gain scores for

students of different gender and in the opposing programs.

       3. What is the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

among students of different ethnicities in the two opposing programs (Phonics

K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?

       Null Hypothesis: There is no significant difference in gain scores on the literacy

section of the GKAP-R among students of different ethnicities and in the two opposing

programs.

       Alternative Hypothesis: There is a significant difference in gain scores on the

literacy section of the GKAP-R among students of different ethnicities and in the two

opposing programs.
                                                                                            68
       4. What is the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

among students with disabilities and students without disabilities in the two opposing

programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?

       Null Hypothesis: There is no significant difference in gain scores on the literacy

section of the GKAP-R among students with disabilities and students without disabilities

and in the opposing programs.

       Alternative Hypothesis: There is a significant difference in gain scores on the

literacy section of the GKAP-R among students with disabilities and students without

disabilities and in the opposing programs.

       5. What is the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

between students with prekindergarten experience as compared to students without

prekindergarten experience and in the two opposing programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal

reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?

       Null Hypothesis: There is no significant difference in gain scores on the literacy

section of the GKAP-R between students with prekindergarten experience as compared to

students without prekindergarten experience and in the opposing programs.

       Alternative Hypothesis: There is a significant difference in gain scores on the

literacy section of the GKAP-R between students with prekindergarten experience as

compared to students without prekindergarten experience and in the opposing programs

       6. Does the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

depend on whether or not students are repeating kindergarten and in the two opposing

reading programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?
                                                                                               69
          Null Hypothesis: There is no significant difference in gain scores on the literacy

section of the GKAP-R between students who are repeating kindergarten and those who

are not repeating kindergarten and in the opposing programs.

          Alternative Hypothesis: There is a significant difference in gain scores on the

literacy section of the GKAP-R between students who are repeating kindergarten and

those who are not repeating kindergarten and in the opposing programs.

          For the purposes of this research study, the researcher defined gain scores as the

point difference between the posttest and pretest scores. Therefore the gain scores were

computed by subtracting the students‘ pretest scores from their posttest scores. The

difference between the two sets of scores were the gain scores (the number of points the

student gained from the pretest to the posttest). Three sets of gain scores were computed:

a) August scores were subtracted from the January scores, b) January scores were

subtracted from April scores, and c) August scores were subtracted from April scores.

The researcher relied on recommendations from Campbell and Stanley (1963) ―the most

widely used acceptable test is to compute for each group pretest—posttest gain scores

and to compute a t test between experimental and control groups on these gain scores‖

(p.23).

                                                Setting

          This study referenced the quasi-experimental research designs (Campbell &

Stanley, 1963). The classes of students being used in the study were not intact and the

population of students was very fluid during the school year. Therefore, the researcher

modified the Campbell and Stanley (1963) design so the research could be conducted as
                                                                                            70
accurately as possible given the circumstances at the researcher‘s school. While random

assignment is preferable, this was a convenience sample of classes available to the

researcher. One class consisted of students who were randomly assigned in the Phonics

K/Harcourt basal reader classroom based on their scores on the Bracken. The other class

consisted of students in the EIP who were conveniently placed in the Dr. Cupp Readers

program based on their scores on the Bracken. These students were conveniently placed

in the EIP classroom because their scores were in the bottom 20% on the Bracken test or

conveniently placed in this classroom because they enrolled in school late and no

Bracken scores were available. Students might have been placed in EIP classrooms

simply because they were repeating kindergarten and teachers requested using the

opposing reading program for those students.

       The study was conducted at a rural elementary school in Georgia. The school

body consisted of 1,041 students; 164 of those students were kindergarten students.

School ethnicity was 74% White, 20% African American, 3% percent Hispanic, and 2%

multiracial. The gifted population made up 3% percent of the student body, students with

disabilities made up 14% of the population, 1% were characterized as limited English

proficient, and 67% of the population were eligible for free or reduced lunch. The school

is a Title 1 school with 15 % of the student body enrolled in EIP classes during the past

school year.

                          Subject Selection and Characteristics

       Forty-three student‘s literacy scores on the GKAP-R scores in three classes made

up the sample for this study. The scores of the two classes of EIP student‘s GKAP-R
                                                                                          71
literacy scores (these were combined to make up one group) and one class of regular

education student‘s GKAP-R literacy scores were used for the study. The researcher‘s

school was comprised of a fluid population during the 2006-2007 school year.

       The EIP classes were composed of 24 students. The ethnicity of the class was

eight African Americans and 16 Caucasians. Four of the students were repeating

kindergarten. Nine of the students were not enrolled in a public prekindergarten program

prior to coming to kindergarten. Three of the students were enrolled in both the speech

and special education program at the researcher‘s school. Five of the students were in the

speech program while the remaining 16 students were not enrolled in speech or special

education classes at the researcher‘s school.

       The regular education kindergarten class was composed of 19 students. The

ethnicity of the class was two African Americans, one multiracial, and 16 Caucasians.

Only one student was repeating kindergarten. Five of the students were not enrolled in a

public prekindergarten program prior to coming to kindergarten. Two of the students

were enrolled in both the speech and special education program at the researcher‘s

school. Three of the students were in the speech program while the remaining 14 students

were not enrolled in speech or special education classes at the researcher‘s school.

       The researcher realized dissimilarities among the groups. The researcher was not

able to perform an ANCOVA on the Bracken scores to adjust for differences because of

the lack of scores for all students in the identified classes. One class lacked nine Bracken

scores while the other class lacked five. It was also very difficult to assess students

academically because of the fluid population at the researcher‘s school. The researcher
                                                                                            72
was able to identify comparable scores on the GKAP-R assessment during August of the

school year between the two groups of students to be used in the study. Therefore, the

researcher felt all students were on level ground. The researcher then made the decision

to look at gain scores and average differences in gain scores on the GKAP-R literacy

section.

        An effort was also made to look at the socio economics of the student population.

It was determined that each class was made up of comparable gender, ethnicities, and

socio economic status. The researcher‘s school is a Title I school where all students are

eligible for free lunch. It was found that students did take the free lunch from the school

cafeteria.

                                         Treatment

        The two Dr. Cupp Reader teachers and one Phonics K/Harcourt basal reader

teacher conducted their normal reading instruction during the school year. Students in the

Dr. Cupp Readers received 45 minutes of whole group instruction on a daily basis and 1

hour of small group reading instruction per day. Students in the Phonics K/Harcourt basal

reader class received whole group phonics instruction for 45 minutes per day and small

group reading instruction for 45 minutes per day. The teachers followed the

recommendations of the publishers as identified in Chapter 2 of this research paper.

        GDOE (1998) guidelines state students should be assessed on the literacy skills

three times per year: August, January, and April. All teachers assessed their own students

according to the state department guidelines. The teachers were aware GKAP-R literacy

score data collection would take place sometime in late spring of the school year. The
                                                                                            73
participating teachers compiled and scored their own class data for the researcher. In

April of the school year, the researcher gathered the data from the participating teachers.

                                Instrumentation and Materials

       Children enrolled in Georgia public school kindergarten programs are assessed for

first-grade readiness with the GKAP-R. All Georgia kindergarten students must

participate in the GKAP-R without exemptions or modifications unless specifically

documented with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The purpose of the GKAP-R is

to provide cumulative evidence of a student‘s readiness for first-grade. Thirty-two

Quality Core Curriculum (QCC) objectives are measured on the GKAP-R using

performance-based assessment activities (GDOE, 1998). Students are assessed in four

domain areas, which include: literacy, mathematics, social, and emotional development.

The test is given in a variety of one-on-one, small group, or large group settings and is

administered three times during the kindergarten year (Remillard, 2004). Many of the

skills on the GKAP-R are related to reading readiness and therefore, this information was

used to evaluate the two reading programs.

       Preexisting reliability and validity information regarding the Bracken is located in

Appendix A. Preexisting reliability and validity information regarding the GKAP-R

assessment piece is located in Appendix B.

                                Data Collection Procedures

       The researcher began data collection in the spring of the 2006-07 school year. The

researcher provided the participating teachers with a spreadsheet for inputting GKAP-R

literacy scores (Tables 1 and 2). The researcher requested additional information (Tables
                                                                                       74
3 and 4) from the participating teachers so disaggregated data could be generated in

regards to the difference in scores for various subgroups (high performing, low

performing, ethnicity, disabilities, prekindergarten experience, and repeaters). The

researcher chose to conduct descriptive statistics such as means and standard deviations

to analyze whether or not differences in performance existed as a function of

demographic characteristics.

(Table 1. Class 1 data – combined EIP kindergarten)

Student           Bracken            Aug GKAP-R         Jan GKAP-R         Apr GKAP-R
SA1               No Score           10                 19                 42
DB2               No Score           12                 25                 42
JC3               9                  9                  21                 40
TC4               12                 8                  23                 32
AF5               10                 10                 18                 40
TN6               6                  9                  20                 42
LP7               55                 9                  22                 41
CP8               6                  10                 22                 42
DP9               No Score           No Score           17                 35
SS10              No Score           7                  19                 42
JT11              10                 6                  18                 41
JW12              5                  10                 21                 42
DB1               .5                 5                  24                 33
LC2               2                  6                  23                 36
LC3               3                  7                  28                 42
TD4               8                  9                  31                 42
RF5               Repeater           7                  26                 41
CG6               No Score           8                  29                 37
SM7               12                 6                  27                 36
GP8               Repeater           No Score           24                 40
CR9               Repeater           8                  29                 41
MT10              3                  5                  30                 37
CT11              No Score           7                  28                 40
DW12              5                  8                  26                 38
                                                                              75
(Table 2. Class 2 data – regular education kindergarten)

Student           Bracken            Aug GKAP-R        Jan GKAP-R   April GKAP-R
BA1               25                 8                 29           42
MA2               86                 10                29           42
CB3               Repeater (no       12                24           41
                  score)
AC4               58                 12                29           42
SC5               Repeater (no       10                25           37
                  score
JD6               14                 11                20           36
ME7               42                 12                26           40
DE8               55                 12                25           40
CH9               68                 12                29           40
KY10              No Score           12                29           40
LH11              55                 12                29           40
JM12              61                 14                30           40
CP13              No Score           11                28           40
KR14              30                 10                28           40
AS15              77                 8                 26           40
CS16              No Score           No Score          20           40
AT17              37                 10                26           40
TW18              98                 12                27           40
CY19              47                 11                29           40
                                                                               76
(Table 3. Class 1 – additional information)

Student     Race     Sex   Pre-K     Disability (speech, Sp. Ed)    Repeater

SA1       W         F      No        No                            No
DB2       W         M      No        No                            Yes
JC3       W         M      No        No                            No
TC4       W         M      Yes       Speech, Sp. Ed.               No
AF5       B         F      Yes       No                            No
TC6       W         F      Yes       No                            No
LP7       W         M      No        No                            No
CM8       B         F      No        No                            No
SS9       W         F      Yes       Speech                        No
JT10      W         M      Yes       No                            No
DP11      W         M      No        No                            Yes
JW12      B         M      Yes       No                            No
DB1       B         M      No        Speech                        No
LC2       W         M      Yes       No                            No
LC3       B         F      No        No                            No
TD4       B         F      Yes       No                            No
RF5       W         F      Yes       Speech                        Yes
CG6       B         M      Yes       Speech, Sp. Ed.               No
SM7       W         F      Yes       Speech                        No
GP8       W         M      No        Speech                        Yes
CR9       W         M      Yes       Speech, Sp. Ed.               Yes
MT10      W         M      Yes       No                            No
CT11      W         F      Yes       No                            No
DW12      B         M      Yes       No                            No
                                                                                             77
(Table 4. Class 2 – additional information)

Student    Race       Sex   Pre-K    Disability (speech, Sp. Ed)     Repeater
BA1       W         F       Yes      No                             No
MA2       W         F       Yes      No                             No
CB3       W         M       No       No                             Yes
AC4       Multi     F       Yes      No                             No
SC5       W         M       Yes      Speech, Sp. Ed.                No
DE6       W         M       Yes      Speech, Sp. Ed.                No
ME7       B         F       Yes      No                             No
JD8       W         M       Yes      Speech                         No
CH9       W         M       Yes      No                             No
LH10      W         F       Yes      No                             No
JM11      W         M       No       No                             No
CP12      W         F       No       No                             No
KR13      B         F       No       No                             No
AS14      W         F       Yes      No                             No
AT15      W         M       Yes      Speech                         No
TW16      W         M       Yes      Speech                         No
CY17      W         M       Yes      No                             No
KY18      W         F       Yes      No                             No
CS19      W         M       No       Speech, Sp. Ed.                No


                                       Data Analysis

       All student data was analyzed using SPSS, version 14.0 for Windows. Descriptive

statistics presented average gain scores for classes of students in the two opposing

reading programs. Independent samples t-tests were used to determine which group of

students achieved average gain scores that were statistically significantly different. The

researcher performed independent samples t-tests on the group means for three different

cycles of GKAP-R testing. The first independent samples t-test was performed using data

from the literacy section scores on the GKAP-R during the August and January testing

periods. The second independent samples t-test was performed using data from the

literacy sections scores on the GKAP-R during the January and April testing periods. The
                                                                                              78
third and final independent samples t-test was performed using data from the literacy

section scores on the GKAP-R during the August and April testing periods.

                                    Participants‘ Rights

       The study posed little to no risk to the participants. The students were not aware

research was being conducted as they participated in their normal routine at school. There

was also little to no risk to the teachers as they were allowed to conduct their routine in

their regular fashion without intrusion from the researcher or any assistants. Permission

to conduct the study was obtained from the principal of the researcher‘s school. The

principal also granted permission for the researcher to access archival data as needed. To

maintain confidentiality of student scores, the participating teachers used student initials

followed by a number rather than using student names. Only the aggregate or pooled data

were used in the final write up of the study. The only person who had access to the total

scores on the GKAP-R was the classroom teachers of the students. The data is being kept

in a locked box for 5 years and then will be destroyed. Information stored on the

computer was burned on a CD and then erased from the computer‘s hard drive at the

conclusion of the study. The CD is also being stored in the locked box along with the

paper documents. Each participant had the right to obtain a copy of the results from this

study. The researcher obtained consent from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) to

conduct this research study (IRB approval number 03-15-028950-8).
                                    CHAPTER 4: RESULTS

                                        Introduction

       This modified quasi-experimental study examined student performance on the

GKAP-R based on several factors which included: a) the student‘s classroom (regular

versus EIP), b) student gender, c) student ethnicity, d) student disability, e) student

prekindergarten experience, and f) whether or not the student was repeating kindergarten.

The main variables of interest were whether or not the student participated in the Dr.

Cupp reading instruction and which of two identified reading programs produced the

higher gains on literacy section scores of the GKAP-R. Those students who received the

Dr. Cupp reading instruction are referred to as Group B while those who received

Phonics K/Harcourt reading instruction are referred to as Group A.

       This chapter presents the data analysis findings to address the following research

questions:

       1. What is the difference in class gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-

R for students utilizing Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series when compared to

students utilizing Dr. Cupp Readers combining eight literacy components?

       2. What is the difference in gain scores on the GKAP-R among students in the

two opposing programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)

for students of different gender?

       3. What is the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

among students of different ethnicities in the two opposing programs (Phonics

K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?
                                                                                          80



        4. What is the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

among students with disabilities and students without disabilities in the two opposing

programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?

        5. What is the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

between students with prekindergarten experience as compared to students without

prekindergarten experience and in the two opposing programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal

reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?

        6. Does the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of the GKAP-R

depend on whether or not students are repeating kindergarten and in the two opposing

reading programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?

                               Results - Research Question 1

        The first research question examined whether or not differences existed in GKAP-

R performance between those in group A and group B, regardless of demographic

characteristics or background experiences. Table 5 provides the gain scores from August

to January and the independent samples t-test results comparing the two groups‘ means.

The results in Table 5 indicate that the average gain scores for the two groups are almost

the same (16.05 versus 16.06). The results also indicate that the two groups‘ mean gain

scores were not statistically significantly different (p > .05).
                                                                                          81



Table 5. Group A versus Group B: August – January




        The results comparing the two groups with regard to their gains scores from

January to April are provided in Table 6. The results in Table 6 indicate that Group B had

greater average gains than Group A (15.58 versus 13.26). The results also indicate that

although Group B had greater gains on average, the difference was not statistically

significant (p > .05).



Table 6. Group A versus Group B: January - April
                                                                                           82
       The results comparing the two groups with regard to their average gains scores

from August to April are provided in Table 7. The results in Table 7 indicate that Group

B had greater gains than Group A on average (31.50 versus 28.94). The results also

indicate that the difference was statistically significant (p < .05). Therefore when looking

at gain scores from August to April, those in Group B had significantly greater gains on

average.



Table 7. Group A versus Group B: August - April




       The results for research Question 1 indicate that Group B was not statistically

significantly different from Group A with regard to their gain scores for the August to

January administration or the January to April administration. However, Group B had

significantly greater gains when comparing the August administration to the April

administration. Therefore the research hypothesis that the two groups will have

significantly different gain scores has been supported and should therefore be retained,

but only when comparing the two groups based on the August to April gain scores.
                                                                                         83
                                Results - Research Question 2

        The second research question examined differences in performance based on

gender. Therefore, males in Group A were compared to males in Group B and females in

Group A were compared to females in Group B. The results for the males for the first

comparison (August – January) are provided in Table 8.



Table 8. Males in Group A versus males in Group B: August - January




        The results in Table 8 indicate that Group B had higher average gains than did

Group A (16.42 versus 14.25). However, the difference between the two groups‘ means

was not statistically significant (p > .05).
                                                                                       84
        The results for the females are provided in Table 9 and indicate that Group A had

average higher gains than did Group B (17.50 versus 15.60, although the difference was

not statistically significant (p > .05).



Table 9. Females in Group A versus females in Group B: August - January
                                                                                              85
        The January versus April performance results for males are presented in Table 10

and indicate that the two groups‘ mean gain scores were very similar (14.50 versus

14.22). The results also indicate that the differences were not statistically significantly

different (p > .05).



Table10. Males in Group A versus males in Group B: January - April
                                                                                          86
        The results for the females are provided in Table 11 and indicate that although

Group A had higher gain scores in the beginning (August – January), Group B had much

higher gain scores when comparing January to April (17.10 versus 12.40). In fact, the

difference was statistically significant (p < .05).



Table 11. Females in Group A versus females in Group B: January – April
                                                                                         87
       The results for the males for the final comparison (August – April) are provided in

Table 12 and indicate that overall, males in Group B had higher average gains than males

in Group A (30.50 versus 27.75). The difference between the two groups‘ means was

statistically significant (p > .05). Therefore males in Group B improved significantly

more than did males in Group A when comparing performance from August to April.



Table 12. Males in Group A versus males in Group B: August – April
                                                                                           88
       The female results for the final comparison (August – April) are provided in

Table 13 and indicate that overall the females in Group B had higher average gains than

the females in Group A (32.70 versus 29.90). The difference between the two groups was

statistically significantly different (p < .05). Therefore females in Group B improved

significantly more than did females in Group A when comparing performance from

August to April.



Table 13. Females in Group A versus females in Group B: August - April




       The results for research Question 2 indicate that both boys and girls appeared to

have benefited equally from being in Group B based on their significantly higher average

gain scores from August to April. Therefore, the null hypothesis of no difference based

on gender is retained.
                                                                                       89
                               Results - Research Question 3

        The third research question examined differences in performance based on

ethnicity. Therefore, white students in Group A were compared to Caucasian students in

Group B and African-American students in Group A were compared to African American

students in Group B. The results for the first comparison for the Caucasian students are

provided in Table 14.



Table 14. Caucasian students in Group A versus Caucasian students in Group B:
August - January




        The results in Table 14 indicate that Caucasian students in Group A had slightly

higher average gains than Caucasian students in Group B (16.00 versus 15.79). However,

the difference was not statistically significant (p > .05).
                                                                                         90
       The results for the African American students are provided in Table 15 and

indicate that Group B had higher gains than did Group A (16.50 versus 16.00). However,

it is important to note that there were only two African American students in Group A.

The difference was not statistically significant (p > .05).



Table 15. African American students in Group A versus African American students
in Group B: August - January
                                                                                       91
        In comparing average gain scores from January to April, the Caucasian students‘

results are provided in Table 16. The results in Table 16 indicate that Group B evidenced

higher average gains than did Group A (16.06 versus 13.31). However, the difference

was not statistically significant (p > .05).



Table 16. Caucasian students in Group A versus Caucasian students in Group B:
January - April
                                                                                        92
          The results for the African American students are provided in Table 17. The

results in Table 17 indicate that those in Group B had higher average gains than those in

Group A (14.63 versus 13.00). However, the difference was not statistically significant (p

> .05).


Table 17. African American students in Group A versus African American students
in Group B: January - April
                                                                                           93
        The results for the final comparison for the Caucasian students (August – April)

are provided in Table 18 and indicate that the students in Group B had higher average

gains than the students in Group A (31.71 versus 28.87). The difference was statistically

significant (p < .05).



Table 18. Caucasian students in Group A versus Caucasian students in Group B:
August – April
                                                                                              94
        The results for the final comparison for the African American students are

provided in Table 19 and indicate that overall, those in Group B had higher average gains

than those in Group A (31.13 versus 29.00). However, the difference was not statistically

significant (p > .05).



Table 19. African American students in Group A versus African American students
in Group B: August – April




    The results for research Question 3 indicate that when comparing the difference in

gains scores between Group A and Group B, race does not appear to play a role. Both

Caucasian and African American students‘ evidenced higher average gains overall in

Group B than they did in Group A; although the results for the Caucasian students

reached statistical significance. However, the African American student group had a very

small sample size making it is difficult to achieve statistical significance. Therefore the

null hypothesis of no differences based on race is retained.
                                                                                       95
                              Results - Research Question 4

        The fourth research question examined differences based on disability type.

Therefore those without disabilities in Group A were compared to those without

disabilities in Group B, those with a speech disability in Group A were compared to those

with a speech disability in Group B and those with a dual disability in Group A were

compared to those with a dual disability in Group B. The results for those without a

disability are presented in Table 20.



Table 20. No disability in Group A versus no disability in Group B:
August – January




        The results for Table 20 indicate that that Group A had higher average gains than

did Group B (16.71 versus 15.00). However, the difference was not statistically

significant (p > .05).
                                                                                            96
       The results for those with speech disabilities are provided in Table 21 and indicate

that those in Group B had much higher average gain scores than those in Group A (17.75

versus 13.33). However, the difference was not statistically significant (p > .05); there

were only four students in Group B and three in Group A.



Table 21. Speech disability in Group A versus speech disability in Group B:
August – January
                                                                                         97
       When comparing those with dual disabilities in Group A to those with dual

disabilities in Group B, no t-tests were computed because there was only one person in

Group A. Therefore, only descriptive statistics are provided in Table 22.



Table 22. Dual disability in Group A versus dual disability in Group B:
August - January




       The results in Table 22 indicate that those in Group B had a much higher mean

gain score as compared to the one student in Group A (19.00 versus 15.00).
                                                                                        98
        The results for the no disability students when comparing January performance to

April performance are provided in Table 23. The results in Table 23 indicate that

although those in Group B had smaller average gains in the first comparison, they had

much higher average gains from January to April than did those in Group A (17.06 versus

12.64). In fact the result was statistically significant (p < .05).



Table 23. No disability in Group A versus no disability in Group B: January - April
                                                                                        99
       The results for those with speech disabilities are provided in Table 24 and indicate

that those in Group B had slightly higher average gain scores than those in Group A

(14.40 versus 14.33). The difference was not statistically significant (p > .05).



Table 24. Speech disability in Group A versus speech disability in Group B:
January - April
                                                                                         100
       The results for the dual disability students are provided in Table 25 and indicate

that the pattern reversed itself with those in Group A yielding much higher average gain

scores than those in Group B (16.00 versus 9.67). However, as previously mentioned, the

sample sizes are very low. The difference was not statistically significant (p > .05).



Table 25. Dual disability in Group A versus dual disability in Group B:
January – April
                                                                                        101
        The results for the final comparison for those without disabilities (August – April)

are provided in Table 26 and indicate that overall those in Group B had higher average

gain scores than those in Group A (32.00 versus 29.36). The difference was statistically

significant (p < .05).



Table 26. No disability in Group A versus no disability in Group B: August - April
                                                                                          102
       The results for the final comparison for those with speech disabilities are provided

in Table 27. The results in Table 27 indicate that overall those in Group B had higher

average gain scores than those in Group A (31.75 versus 27.67). The difference was

based on only seven students and was therefore not statistically significant (p > .05).



Table 27. Speech disability in Group A versus speech disability in Group B:
August – April
                                                                                         103
       The results for the final comparison for those with dual disabilities are provided in

Table 28 and indicate that those in Group B had a higher overall mean gain score than the

one student in Group A (28.67 versus 27.00).



Table 28. Dual disability in Group A versus dual disability in Group B:
August – April




       The results for research Question 4 indicate that regardless of disability type, the

students had higher average gain scores in Group B than they did in Group A when

comparing August performance to April performance; although some of the sample sizes

were very small. Therefore the null hypothesis of no difference due to disability type is

retained.
                                                                                       104
                                 Results - Research Question 5

        The fifth research question examined differences based on whether or not the

student had prekindergarten experience. Therefore those with prekindergarten experience

in Group A were compared to those with prekindergarten experience in Group B and

those without prekindergarten experience in Group A were compared to those without

prekindergarten experience in Group B. The results for those with prekindergarten

experience are provided in Table 29.



Table 29. Prekindergarten in Group A versus prekindergarten in Group B:
August – January




        The results in Table 29 indicate that those in Group B had slightly higher average

gain scores than those in Group A (16.93 versus 16.14). However, the difference was not

statistically significant (p > .05).
                                                                                         105
       The results for those without prekindergarten experience are provided in Table 30

and indicate that those in Group A had higher average gain scores than those in Group B

(15.75 versus 14.14); although the difference was not statistically significant (p > .05).



Table 30. No prekindergarten in Group A versus no prekindergarten in Group B:
August – January
                                                                                         106
        The results for the January to April comparison for those with prekindergarten

experience are presented in Table 31 and indicate that those in Group B had higher

average gains than those in Group A (14.60 versus 12.93). The difference was not

statistically significant (p > .05).



Table 31. Prekindergarten in Group A versus prekindergarten in Group B:
January – April
                                                                                       107
          The results for those without prekindergarten experience are provided in Table 32

and indicate that the pattern reversed and those in Group B evidenced higher gains than

those in Group A (17.22 versus 14.20). The difference was not statistically significant (p

> .05).



Table 32. No prekindergarten in Group A versus no prekindergarten in Group B:
January – April
                                                                                       108
        The results for the final comparison for those with prekindergarten experience are

provided in Table 33 and indicate that overall those in Group B had higher average gains

than those in Group A (31.53 versus 29.07) and the difference was statistically significant

(p < .05).



Table 33. Prekindergarten in Group A versus prekindergarten in Group B:
August - April
                                                                                       109
        The results for the final comparison for those without prekindergarten experience

are provided in Table 34 and indicate that overall those in Group B had higher mean

gains than those in Group A (31.43 versus 28.50). The difference was statistically

significant (p < .05).



Table 34. No prekindergarten in Group A versus no prekindergarten in Group B:
August – April




        The results for research Question 5 indicate that higher average gain scores were

achieved in Group B when comparing student performance in August to performance in

April, regardless of whether or not the students had prekindergarten experience.

Therefore the null hypothesis of no difference due to prekindergarten experience is

retained; both groups significantly benefited from being in Group B with regard to their

gains from August to April.
                                                                                         110
                                 Results - Research Question 6

        The sixth research question examined differences based on whether or not the

student was repeating the grade. Therefore those who were nonrepeaters in Group A were

compared to nonrepeaters in Group B and those who were repeaters in Group A were

compared to repeaters in Group B. The results for first set of comparisons the

nonrepeaters are provided in Table 35.



Table 35. Nonrepeaters in Group A versus nonrepeaters in Group B: August - January




        The results in Table 35 indicate that those in Group A had higher average gain

scores than did those in Group B (16.29 versus 15.79). However, the difference was not

statistically significant (p > .05).
                                                                                         111
       The results for the repeaters are provided in Table 36; however only one student

was included in Group A and therefore only descriptive statistics are provided. The

results in Table 36 indicate that Group B had a higher average gain score than the one

student in Group A (17.67 versus 12.00).



Table 36. Repeaters in Group A versus repeaters in Group B: August - January




       The results for the nonrepeaters when comparing January to April performance

are provided in Table 37. The results in Table 37 indicate that the average gain score for

Group B was higher than the average gain score for Group A (15.70 versus 13.06).

However, the difference was not statistically significant (p > .05).



Table 37. Nonrepeaters in Group A versus nonrepeaters in Group B: January - April
                                                                                           112
        The results for the repeaters are provided in Table 38 and indicate that the one

student in Group A showed a greater gain than Group B, on average (17.00 versus 15.00).



Table 38. Repeaters in Group A versus repeaters in Group B: January - April




        The results for the final comparison for the nonrepeaters (August – April) are

provided in Table 39 and indicate that on average, Group B had greater overall gains than

did Group A (31.37 versus 28.94). Also, the difference was statistically significant (p <

.05).



Table 39. Nonrepeaters in Group A versus nonrepeaters in Group B: August - April
                                                                                          113
       The results for the final comparison for the repeaters are provided in Table 40 and

indicate that those in Group B had a higher average gain than the one student in Group A

(32.33 versus 29.00). However, no significance testing was done due to the fact that

Group A only had one student.



Table 40. Repeaters in Group A versus repeaters in Group B: August - April




       The results for research Question 6 indicate that overall, higher gains were

achieved in Group B than Group A regardless of whether or not the student repeated the

grade. Therefore the null hypothesis of no difference due to repeating the grade is

retained; both groups benefited from being in Group B with regard to their gains from

August to April.

                                         Conclusion

       The researcher explored six research questions in order to determine which of two

reading programs promotes higher achievement on literacy scores of the GKAP-R. The

researcher used descriptive statistics to present gain scores for classes of students in the

two opposing reading programs. Independent samples t-tests determined that those in

Group B had statistically significantly higher average gain scores than did those in Group

A when comparing performance from August to April. The results also found that all
                                                                                            114
subgroups showed higher average gains from August to April regardless of demographic

characteristics or background experiences.

       Chapter 5 presents a summary of the research findings and relates those findings

to the literature. The significance of the study, the implications for social change, the

dissemination of the study as well as recommendations for future research is discussed in

chapter 5.
             CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

                                       Introduction

       Chapter 5 presents a summary of the study and conclusions based on the results

identified in chapter 4. Chapter 5 provides a discussion of the data and the implications

for classroom use as well as suggested recommendations for further research.

                                  Summary of the Study

       Educators and school districts search tirelessly for the best reading program, the

one that produces higher test scores and meets the needs of all learners. The review of

literature suggests a balanced approach to literacy teaching in the elementary years. The

purpose of this study was to show the effect each of the two currently used reading

programs has on kindergarten students‘ reading readiness as measured by literacy scores

on the GKAP-R. The researcher presents each research question, the findings, and a

discussion of the results.

       Research Question 1: What is the difference in class gain scores on the literacy

section of the GKAP-R for students utilizing Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series

when compared to students utilizing Dr. Cupp Readers combining eight literacy

components? Both groups of students experienced almost identical average gain scores

between the August and January testing cycle and therefore there was no statistical

significant difference. From January to April, Group B achieved greater average gains

which were not statistically significant. Throughout the duration of the school year,

Group B had greater average gains of statistically significant difference. Group B has

been identified as the group of students which received reading instruction using the Dr.
                                                                                         116
Cupp Readers. For this group of students also identified as EIP to show a greater gain

throughout the duration of this program strongly suggests that Dr. Cupp Readers

provided appropriate reading readiness instruction for these students. Therefore, the

research hypothesis that the two groups will have significantly different gain scores was

supported and retained.

          Research Question 2: What is the difference in gain scores on the GKAP-R

among students in the two opposing programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series

and Dr. Cupp Readers) for students of different gender? The males in Group B had higher

average gains which were not statistically significantly different between August and

January. The males in Group B also had very similar gains between January and April of

no statistical significant difference. The males in Group B retained higher average gains

overall and those gains were statistically significant. The females in Group B made

greater gains of statistical significance during the January through April cycle of testing

and maintained the higher average gain of statistical significance overall. Equal benefit

for both males and females was evident with Group B, Dr. Cupp Reader instruction.

Therefore, the researcher retained the null hypothesis of no differences found based on

gender.

          Research Question 3: What is the difference in gain scores on the literacy section

of the GKAP-R among students of different ethnicities in the two opposing programs

(Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)? African American

students in Group B achieved higher gains which were not statistically significantly

different during both the August to January and the January to April cycles. Caucasian
                                                                                           117
students in Group B achieved the higher gains of no statistical significant difference on

the January to April cycle. Overall, Caucasian and African American students in Group B

achieved greater gains throughout the duration of the Dr. Cupp Reader instruction. The

Caucasian students in Group B had gain scores of significant difference overall, while the

African American students‘ gain scores were not statistically significantly different. The

Dr. Cupp Readers program provided appropriate reading readiness instruction for African

American students as well as Caucasian students as reflected by their gains throughout

the duration of the program. Given this data, the researcher retained the null hypothesis of

no differences found based on race.

       Research Question 4: What is the difference in gain scores on the literacy section

of the GKAP-R among students with disabilities and students without disabilities in the

two opposing programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)?

Students in Group B with speech disabilities and dual disabilities achieved gains of no

statistically significant difference during the August to January cycle. The January to

April cycle of testing revealed students with no disability achieved much higher average

gains that were statistically significant. The speech students in Group B achieved slightly

higher gains with no statistical significant difference during the January through April

testing cycle. Again, students in Group B in all three categories of disabilities had higher

average gain scores throughout the duration of program instruction. Regardless of

disability type, students in Group B had higher average gains overall. Therefore, the null

hypothesis of no difference due to disability type is retained.
                                                                                          118
       Research Question 5: What is the difference in gain scores on the literacy section

of the GKAP-R between students with prekindergarten experience as compared to

students without prekindergarten experience and in the two opposing programs (Phonics

K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp Readers)? Group B students with

prekindergarten experience had slightly higher average gain scores of no statistical

significance during both the August to January and January to April testing cycles.

Overall, this same group of students maintained a higher average gain but this time the

gains were of statistical significance. Students without prekindergarten experience in

Group B achieved higher average gains of no significant difference during the January to

April testing cycle. This same group of students achieved the higher overall gains with

statistically significant differences. Group B achieved the higher gains throughout the

duration of the program and the researcher retained the null hypothesis of no difference

due to prekindergarten experience.

       Research Question 6: Does the difference in gain scores on the literacy section of

the GKAP-R depend on whether or not students are repeating kindergarten and in the two

opposing reading programs (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series and Dr. Cupp

Readers)? Students who were repeating kindergarten in Group B achieved higher gain

scores during the August to April and maintained those higher gain scores throughout the

duration of the program instruction. Students who were not repeating kindergarten in

Group B experienced greater gains of no statistical significant difference during the

January to April testing cycle while also maintaining greater overall gains of statistical

significant difference throughout the program instruction. All students in Group B
                                                                                          119
experienced higher average gains throughout the duration of the program and therefore,

the researcher retained the null hypothesis of no significant difference based on whether

or not a student was repeating kindergarten.

       The results of this research study indicate that being in Group B, regardless of

demographic factors, is associated with higher average gain scores of statistically

significant difference from the August to April testing cycles. Group B was defined as the

group of EIP students who received Dr. Cupp Reader instruction. The results also found

that all subgroups in Group B showed higher average gains from August to April

regardless of demographic characteristics or background experience.

       The results indicated three major trends which emerged from the data collection.

The first major trend that emerged was the substantially larger gain that Group B

evidenced in comparison to Group A when comparing January test scores to that of April

test scores. The January to April time period showed the greatest gains for Group B,

although the differences between the two groups did not reach statistical significance in

most cases.

       A second major trend that emerged was the significantly greater gain achieved in

Group B in comparison to Group A when comparing the two groups on the third set of

scores (August to April). Although the gains tended not to be statistically significant from

January to April, the cumulative gains (August to April) were found to be significant.

This finding indicates that although Group B showed the greatest gains in the second half

of the year, only the cumulative differences (August to January gains plus January to

April gains) reached statistical significance.
                                                                                          120
       The third major trend that emerged was the consistency of Group B to outperform

Group A, as measured by gains from January to April and from August to April,

regardless of gender, race, disability status, prekindergarten experience and repeat status.

The results indicated that all students appeared to have benefited from the instruction

they received in Group B, as compared to Group A, regardless of their demographic

background or previous educational experience.

       Overall, the major limitation of this study was the small sample sizes. This was

particularly true when comparing student performance within groups broken down by

demographic factors. However, regardless of the study‘s limitations, a clear pattern was

found indicating that students showed stronger gains in performance in literacy when in

Group B, the Dr. Cupp Readers, as measured by average gain scores on the literacy

section of the GKAP-R.

                                      Ancillary Data

       Ancillary data was added to this research study due to the fact there were similar

final scores found amongst the two classes of students. The researcher was curious as to

why the findings were similar between the two classes of students when one group of

students had been identified as being EIP, or at risk. The researcher expected significant

differences between the groups of students because the Phonics K/Harcourt basal

combination is not a balanced approach to literacy instruction. Research (Pinnell, 2006)

suggests the balanced approach to literacy instruction produces higher reading skills in

students. The Dr. Cupp Reader curriculum provides this kind of instruction and should
                                                                                           121
therefore have produced the higher scores with more differences in the final scores

between the groups of students.

       In order to gain a better understanding of why the differences were so similar

between the groups of students, the researcher chose to further investigate this finding

through a qualitative technique, interviewing. The researcher interviewed the

participating teacher of the opposing program after data collection took place. The

researcher found a diffusion of treatment because the participating teacher did not adhere

to the protocol for the identified program (Phonics K/Harcourt basal reading series) of

reading instruction in her classroom. The participating teacher chose to incorporate

components of the Dr. Cupp Readers into her classroom reading instruction. Because the

researcher did not observe the reading instruction of students to confirm the teacher was

following the prescribed curriculum, a diffusion of treatment was identified as a

limitation of the study.

       The participating teacher reported using the Harcourt reading series in the

beginning of the school year but then resorted to only using the trade books

accompanying the series for thematic unit instruction. She also reported using the

Harcourt reading workbooks only in the beginning of the year due to its simplicity and

skill level. The participating teacher reported using Phonics K the entire school year and

followed the publisher‘s recommendations for use to the best of her ability.

       The researcher discovered through this interview that the participating teacher

used the Dr. Cupp Readers in her classroom three times per week. She used the Hop N‘

Pop as well as the fluency and comprehension sections of the Dr. Cupp Readers because
                                                                                          122
those were the major components missing from the Harcourt basal reading series. The

Hop N‘ Pop section was used to help students improve sight word recognition. The

fluency and comprehension sections were used to allow students an introduction to sight

word vocabulary and an opportunity to practice reading these words through round robin

reading as well as choral reading. Students were presented with passages of text in single

line format as well as paragraph format where they practiced reading in order to develop

their fluency skills. The teacher asked questions provided by the program at the end of

each passage to check students understanding of text. The students were also allowed to

take these sections home to practice reading to their parents.

       The researcher also found the participating teacher attended a Dr. Cupp Readers

training program several years back and was given copies of the original set of the Dr.

Cupp Readers, to which she was allowed to copy and use in her classroom. The

participating teacher had also observed in the EIP classrooms and saw the Dr. Cupp

Readers instruction taking place.

       The Dr. Cupp Readers have been discussed among kindergarten teachers at the

researcher‘s school and within the researcher‘s county for the past 3 years. Many

educators believe Dr. Cupp Readers is a good reading program that promotes reading

readiness skills in kindergarten students. However, some of the other kindergarten

teachers were misled into believing if the school chose the Dr. Cupp Readers, they would

have to give up the Phonics K program. Therefore, no other teachers expressed an interest

in piloting or adopting this as the reading program to be used at the researcher‘s school

and in the researcher‘s county.
                                                                                           123
       The participating teacher openly used the materials in her classroom and did not

consider whether administration would question why she was using the opposing reading

program. The teacher stated that all teachers integrate bits and pieces of other programs

which they have found would further students learning.

       Because teachers constantly pick and chose those elements of instruction which

are best at promoting growth and development of students, the participating teacher

picked those components of the Dr. Cupp Readers which she believed would promote

more reading readiness skills acquisition for her students. Those were the components of

the program she integrated into her reading instruction.

       Baumann, Hoffman, Moon, and Duffy-Hester (1998) found 76% of teachers draw

from multiple perspectives and materials when teaching elementary students to read.

Therefore the participating teacher did what the majority of teachers do. They decide

what is best for their students and do what is necessary to meet those needs, thereby

producing better learners and higher scores.

       Upon interviewing the other participating teacher of EIP students, the researcher

found this teacher only used the Dr. Cupp Readers for reading instruction. The teacher

stated she followed the guidelines of the Dr. Cupp Readers to the best of her ability as

suggested by the teacher‘s manual.

                                     Unexpected Results

       The researcher was surprised to find a mixture of reading approaches being used

in the comparison group. Given that all kindergarten teachers went to a Dr. Cupp Readers

workshop the prior year, the comparison group teacher was vaguely familiar with the
                                                                                          124
program and had limited knowledge of how to integrate this program into the reading

instruction in her classroom.

       While the researcher did not have any provisions in the study regarding the actual

instruction that took place inside the comparison group classroom, the findings of this

study were slightly skewed due to the finding that parts of the Dr. Cupp Reader program

were used in the comparison group reading instruction. However, the researcher

maintains the Dr. Cupp Readers program provided adequate reading readiness skills

acquisition for the group of students labeled EIP. There is no doubt the program is

effective given the amount of gain (averaging 15.75 points gain between the August and

January testing; 41.33 points gain between the August and April testing) for children in

the EIP classroom.

                            Study in Context of the Literature

       The balanced literacy approach to teaching students to read is one way to increase

students reading readiness. Pinnell‘s (2006) ten principles in literacy programs that work

support the balanced literacy approach to teaching students to read and is a major

component of the Reading Recovery Council‘s approach of appropriate reading

instruction. The NRP (2000) identified three major components critical to learning to

read (alphabetic principles, fluency, and comprehension). These components were later

subdivided into five sub-categories (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary,

and text comprehension), which all support the balanced literacy approach.

       One of the key components of the NCLB (2001) is improving literacy by putting

reading first. In order to accomplish this tremendous assignment, NCLB focuses on
                                                                                         125
reading in the early grades. Another part of NCLB requires test data be disaggregated so

gaps in test scores amongst various sub-groups can be found and teaching may take place

that allows the gaps to close.

       Providing the best educational materials and/or programs to teach reading

readiness skills to kindergarten students takes many forms. Understanding the different

programs used to teach reading readiness skills are of utmost importance to this

researcher. Relying on the recommendations of educational theorists Piaget (1952),

Vygotsky (1978), Gardner (1978), and Skinner (1974), the researcher thoroughly

critiqued and analyzed the current reading programs used at the researcher‘s school to

teach kindergarten students reading readiness skills.

       The researcher presented quantitative data from both reading programs being used

at the researcher‘s school as well as educational theorist‘s recommendations of how

children learn these skills. The researcher critiqued and summarized this information for

use in the current research study. Regardless of which class a student was in, all students

participating in the study made progress. While each program has advantages and

disadvantages, teachers must remember to not only look at one test score but to look at

each child‘s individual growth throughout the school year.

                                 Significance of the Study

Contributions to Our Current Knowledge

       In response to NCLB (2001), teachers are learning more and more about

disaggregating data in order to close the achievement gaps among different sub groups of

students. Even though kindergarten students in the researcher‘s state do not currently take
                                                                                          126
standardized tests, it is important that all teachers learn how to disaggregate test data and

search for ways to close the achievement gaps between different sub groups of students.

       Previous research indicates reading readiness is very important to the reading

achievement of students. Although there was not a statistically significant difference

between GKAP-R literacy scores at the researcher‘s school, the balanced literacy

program promoted higher GKAP-R literacy scores and higher gains throughout the

duration of instruction.

Contributions for the Classroom Teacher

       The NCLB (2001) legislation demands scientifically based research practices be

used in classrooms (USDOE, 2004). Through this research study, other educators can

view and understand the impact two reading programs had on GKAP-R literacy scores of

students. The data obtained from this piece of research provides reliable evidence to

educators of how specific programs meet the needs of identified groups of students.

       Rather than looking at one score, educators need to focus on the gains students

make throughout the duration of program instruction The Dr. Cupp Readers provided

students with greater gain throughout the duration of the program. The Dr. Cupp Readers

allowed students with no prekindergarten experience to achieve the largest gains of all.

The disaggregating of data was also beneficial in allowing educators to see greater gains

for various sub groups of students (African Americans, Caucasians, students with no

known disability, students with only a speech disability).

       Reading textbook adoption will take place in the next school year. This research

study was important for local knowledge in the researcher‘s district so that kindergarten
                                                                                            127
teachers understand which program is best for promoting higher achievement on the

GKAP-R literacy section. While this study did not produce perfect results, the results

may be applied to a national situation or another school district where populations or

reading programs are similar to the ones identified in this study. Others will be able to

look at this study as a demonstration study for identifying gains in programs rather than

looking at one individual score on an identified assessment.

                              Implications for Social Change

       In this research study, four of the principles (inclusion and equity, high

expectations, a system-wide approach, and direct social justice education and

intervention) recommended by Carlisle, Jackson, and George (2006) were implemented,

allowing for social change in the researcher‘s school and district. Carlisle, Jackson, and

George (2006) recommended

       inclusion and equity within the school setting and larger community by
       addressing all forms of social oppression…seek to counter social inequities by
        creating environments that challenge oppressive attitudes and behaviors, values
        multiple perspectives, and fosters community-building across social identity
       groups. (p. 97)

       The researcher used the first principle posited by Carlisle, Jackson, and George

(2006) when the literacy score data was disaggregated from the GKAP-R using various

subgroups (high achievers, low achievers, ethnicity, disabilities, prekindergarten

experiences, and first-time in kindergarten). This data allowed teachers to determine if a

particular reading program met the needs of the diverse group of learners in the

researcher‘s school. The researcher presented this data to other kindergarten teachers in
                                                                                       128
order to allow them to make informed decisions when choosing reading curriculum for

their students.

        Carlisle, Jackson, and George (2006) also recommended

        schools provide a diverse and challenging learning environment supporting
        student development; holding all students to high expectations; and empowering
        students of all social identities. (p. 97)

        Those students identified as EIP, based on low Bracken scores, were assessed in

the same manner as students not identified as EIP. Students were placed in learning

environments that allowed for personal growth and development. Students placed in EIP

classes received more one-on-one assistance due to the small class sizes. However, this

was done in order to provide those students with the extra support needed for academic

success in the future.

        The fourth principle recommended by Carlisle, Jackson, and George (2006) stated

        the mission, resource allocation structures, policies and procedures, and physical
        environment, exemplify its commitment to creating and sustaining a socially just
        environment between and among various constituency groups and in all areas of
        the system. (p. 97)

        During the 2006-2007 school year, the researcher‘s school participated in the self-

study for continued accreditation, where 10 accreditation standards were identified:

        Standard 1. Beliefs and Mission: The school communicates a vision, statement of

beliefs, and mission that provide a focus for improving the performance of both the

students and the school.

        Standard 2. Governance and Leadership: The school and governing board

promote the capacity of stakeholders to improve student learning by providing

appropriate leadership, governance, and organization.
                                                                                        129
        Standard 3. Curriculum: The school offers a research-based curriculum that

supports best practices and clearly defines expectations for student learning.

        Standard4. Instruction: The school employs instructional strategies and provides

services that facilitate learning for all students.

        Standard 5. Assessment and Evaluation: The school uses a comprehensive

assessment system to monitor and evaluate student learning and to improve curriculum

and instruction.

        Standard 6. Resources: The school has sufficient human, financial, physical, and

material resources to support its vision, mission, and goals.

        Standard 7. Support Services for Student Learning: The school has a

comprehensive program of guidance and other services that supports the development

and well-being of all students.

        Standard 8. Stakeholder Communications and Relationships: The school fosters

effective communications and relationships with and among its stakeholders.

        Standard 9. Citizenship: The school helps students develop civic, social, and

personal responsibility.

        Standard 10. Continuous Process of School Improvement: The school establishes,

implements, and monitors a continuous process of improvement that focuses on student

performance. (Self-Study for Continued Accreditation, 2006, pp. 5-14)

        These standards support the Carlisle, Jackson, and George (2006) principles. The

research study focused on identifying the reading program promoting higher achievement

for students regardless of any barriers. Teachers were allowed to participate in piloting a
                                                                                          130
program which could promote higher achievement as well as facilitated learning for all

students, thereby providing teachers with reliable data in order to inform data-driven

decision making.

       The research study also followed Ryan‘s (2006) recommendation that inclusive

leadership, a promising approach to leadership, allowing teachers to work toward social

justice in their schools and communities be continued as planned in the school (p. 13).

The researcher encouraged another school in the county to pilot the Dr. Cupp Readers

and shared the results of the study with that principal and some of his teachers. The

principal in the neighboring school has undertaken a longitudinal study using the Dr.

Cupp Readers so that his teachers will have firsthand knowledge regarding how the

program has worked for them in their classrooms with their diverse student population.

Throughout this study, the researcher has been allowed to focus on becoming a teacher

leader and sharing knowledge not only with individuals in her school but also in the

county in which she teaches.

       The USDOE (2004) stated appropriate teaching strategies and tools should be

used to target at-risk students to get their performance up to the desired level. The NCLB

(2001) was designed to improve student achievement and is projected to target all areas

that close the achievement gap for: all ethnic groups; all major socio economic groups; all

English-language learners; and all special education students; previously unsuccessful in

achieving the quality of education needed for future success (USDOE, 2004).

       President Bush said, ―We must confront the scandal of illiteracy in America, seen

most clearly in high-poverty schools, where nearly 70 percent of fourth-graders are
                                                                                        131
unable to read at a basic level‖ (USDOE, 2004, p.1). The National Assessment of

Education Progress (NAEP) found there has been no improvement in the average reading

scores of 17 year olds since the 1970s. Sixty percent of 12th graders in 1998 were reading

below proficiency (USDOE, 2004).

       Acquiring the appropriate reading readiness skills in kindergarten sets a

foundation where all children become successful readers. In order to develop good

readers, teachers must be equipped with the necessary materials in order to promote

higher achievement amongst all students, regardless of socio economic barriers.

       The researcher recognized social change occurring in the researcher‘s school

where teachers are looking more at the growth of individual students during a school year

rather than a total score at year‘s end. The group of students identified as EIP meant that

these students entered kindergarten at a definite disadvantage when compared to other

students in the comparison group. Obviously from the initial Bracken scores, one could

assume those students in the comparison group came to school with a better learning

advantage simply because of their higher Bracken scores, indicating possible

preexposure, more learning experiences, and so on. For the group of EIP students with

very low Bracken scores, which possibly means they had limited preexposure and less

learning experiences, to achieve higher average gains throughout the duration of reading

program instruction, it appears that the Dr. Cupp Readers program was highly effective

for students.
                                                                                           132
                                   Dissemination of Study

       The study was presented to the local board of education members, the principal of

the researcher‘s school, and the kindergarten teachers at the researcher‘s school, as well

as other kindergarten teachers in the researcher‘s county. The data is being kept at the

researcher‘s school and can be used in the next reading textbook adoption in the

researcher‘s county during the upcoming school year so the most appropriate reading

curriculum may be chosen for students.

                          Recommendations for Further Research

       Braithwaite (1999) stated

       the past decades have seen considerable changes in the ways of teaching language
       and literacy in early childhood classrooms. While contemporary approaches
       advocate language and literacy practices that reflect a socially constructed model
       of curriculum, there are large numbers of teachers who hold differing views on
       how language can be taught in early childhood classrooms. (p.1)


       The researcher recommends further research due to the limitations of this study.

The small sample size limitation definitely needs to be addressed in other research using

a larger sample. Even though more research conducted using equivalent groups would

probably produce similar results, the researcher recommends further research on this

particular group of students for comparison purposes. The researcher also recommends a

through review of teaching practices of specified reading curricula be integrated into

future research studies. Conducting a similar study several times over in the researcher‘s

district could be beneficial to ascertain whether the results of increased gain found in this

study are consistent in a repeatable way or if these results would occur with higher

frequency than chance.
                                                                                            133
                                    Concluding Remarks

       The reading wars continue today as educators struggle with finding the

appropriate reading curriculum for students. Textbook companies make modifications to

textbooks every year based on current trends and practices in education. The results of

this study appear to show the balanced literacy approach is best for teaching students to

read because of the overall gains on GKAP-R literacy scores for students participating in

the Dr. Cupp Readers program, which is a balanced literacy program. The ancillary data

also suggested a balanced approach to literacy was used in that classroom as well. The

Dr. Cupp Reader program produced consistent differences in average gains made for the

identified group of EIP students. Although further research is needed because of the

limitations of this research study, the researcher expects findings to be very similar to

those identified in this research paper.
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   APPENDIX A: PREEXISTING RELIABILITY AND VALIDITY OF BRACKEN
   ASSESSMENT


The reliability of the Bracken (Bracken Basic Concept Scale – Revised, BBCS-R) was

estimated in two ways: by examining its internal consistency and test-retest stability, and

the standards errors of measurement examination (Bracken Examiner‘s Manual, 1998). In

the examiner‘s manual, Estabrook, described the Bracken as ―the most comprehensive

measure of basic concepts available.‖
   APPENDIX B: PREEXISTING VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY OF THE GKAP-R



GKAP-R activities were field-tested in three phases. Field-testing was conducted

throughout Georgia with over 200 teachers participating. Data for activities were

analyzes by Georgia Assessment Project (GAP) staff and examined by Georgia

Department of Education (GDOE) and panel members after each phase of field-testing.

Upon completion of all three phases of field-testing, each activity was reviewed by a bias

committee composed of a representative sample of kindergarten and first-grade teachers

from across the state. A bank of validated assessment activities was created. A selection

committee of educators from across the state reviewed the bank and recommended a set

of activities to GDOE personnel who made the final, official selection of 32 activities for

the GKAP-R. A panel of educators comprised of kindergarten and first-grade teachers

recommended standards for the GKAP-R as the final step in the developmental process.

The revision process was completed in June 1998. GKAP-R was fully administered for

the first time during the 1998-99 school year (GKAP-R Administration Manual, 1998).
                    APPENDIX C: TEACHER QUESTIONS

1. What programs did you use to teach your students to read this past year?

2. Please explain exactly how you taught reading this past year.

3. Where did you get the Dr. Cupp Reader materials?

4. How did you teach sight words?

5. What did you use the Harcourt reading series for?
                                 CURRICULUM VITAE

                                  KATRINA WICKER

3166 Modes Phelps Road
Cadwell, Georgia 31009
(478) 463-3506
katrinawicker@lcboe.net


EDUCATION

      Doctor of Education Candidate, Teacher Leadership, Expected August 2007,
      Walden University, Minneapolis, Minnesota

      National Board Certification, 2005

      Education Specialist, Early Childhood Education, 2002
      Georgia Southwestern State University, Americus, Georgia
      Masters Degree, Middle Grades Education, 1995
      Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville, Georgia

      Bachelors Degree, Early Childhood Education, 1991
      Mercer University, Macon, Georgia

Experience

      Teacher, 2000–present, Southwest Laurens Elementary School, Rentz, GA
      Positions: Kindergarten teacher (3 years), Third grade teacher (2 years),
      First grade teacher (2 years)

      Second Grade Teacher, 1996 – 2000, Saxon Heights Elementary School,
      Dublin, GA

      Teacher, 1991 – 1996, East Laurens Elementary School, East Dublin, GA
      Positions: Fifth grade teacher (2 years), Kindergarten teacher (3 years)


      Committees

      Parent Teacher Organization Executive Board, 2006-2007
      Technology Committee, 2006-2007
      Red Cross Blood Drive Chair, 2005-2006
      Technology Committee, 2005-2006

								
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