The effects of balanced literacy instructional training: A longitudinal study of reading performance in the primary grades

Patricia Anne McCarthy, Marquette University

Abstract

These studies examine the outcomes of a Balanced Literacy approach that included both literature-based and explicit phonological skills instruction on student reading performance over time. Extensive teacher training in emergent literacy theory and Vygotskian learning theory was a critical part of the study design. Subjects were 298 students from six elementary schools in a Midwest suburban district. Students' reading development was studied from first grade in 1995-96 through third grade in 1997-98. A total of 72 of these students, judged to be at-risk for reading difficulty, additionally received 1:1 intervention services during first grade from these trained teachers. All subjects were assessed twice a year during the three years of the study in word accuracy and comprehension using grade level specific texts. All first, second and third grade teachers of these students were rated in the frequency of their use of Balanced Literacy instructional components. By the end of first grade students receiving Balanced Literacy instruction read first grade text with a mean word accuracy of 95% while those who had received intervention approached the performance standard of 90%. The intervention group achieved a mean word accuracy of 95% by the end of second grade. Both groups maintained this above standard performance level throughout the study. In relation to comprehension, both groups reached the standard level of performance (70%) by the end of first grade and maintained it through all subsequent assessments. These patterns of performance would appear to validate the use of Balanced Literacy instruction in the primary grades supplemented by an intensive intervention program provided by highly trained teachers. Analyses of the ratings of Balanced Literacy use among teachers of all the students in the study indicated that first grade teachers with intervention training were rated as more consistent in their use of Balanced Literacy components than the other teachers. Significant correlations were found between the years of intervention training a teacher had had and student reading performance at the end of first grade and again at the end of third grade 2 years later. In addition, significant correlations were found between the years a school had participated in teacher training and student reading performance.

Recommended Citation

McCarthy, Patricia Anne, "The effects of balanced literacy instructional training: A longitudinal study of reading performance in the primary grades" (1999). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9929164.
https://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI9929164

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