Committee Chair

Rutledge, Valerie C.

Committee Member

Miller, Ted L.; Cowan, Kay; Patterson, Alice E.


Dept. of Education


College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


The purpose of the study was to evaluate two approaches to teaching spelling and vocabulary to second through fourth graders in two different urban school systems to determine if one program revealed greater growth scores on Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) reading components. Research question 1 posited: Does Word Study, a developmental approach to spelling and vocabulary, impact the mastery of specific reading and language arts subtests on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) for Hispanic English Learners? Five sub-questions assessed whether Hispanic ELs who were taught a developmental approach, using Word Study, achieve better TCAP scores than Hispanic ELs who were not taught spelling and vocabulary with a rigorous developmental approach in: a) Content (reading) b) Meaning (reading) c) Vocabulary d) Techniques and Skills e) Grammar Conventions Research question 2 asked: How do teacher beliefs and attitudes toward spelling and vocabulary instruction affect Hispanic ELs’ reading achievement? Sub-questions were: Do teachers in either or both districts believe spelling and vocabulary programs were implemented with fidelity? Do teacher beliefs and practices vary between the two spelling and vocabulary programs? How many times per week did spelling and vocabulary instruction occur in each district? Did teachers differentiate spelling and vocabulary instruction for Hispanic ELs in each district? Both quantitative and qualitative approaches were implemented. For research question 1, both districts demonstrated positive growth gains in Content and Meaning. District A students showed gains in Vocabulary. Techniques and Skills performance revealed a decline for District A while District B showed gains. District A Hispanic ELs demonstrated growth gains on Grammar Conventions. The qualitative analysis revealed that teacher s in both District A (56%) and District B (58%) were positive in their attitudes toward the value of explicitly teaching spelling and vocabulary. District A teachers revealed challenges with implementing a new approach while teachers in District B used the adopted basal reading program. Implications for practice were identified from both research-based programs. Educators in Tennessee can build on the foundation of effective reading, spelling, and vocabulary strategies examined in this study to ensure success for EL students, as well as all struggling or reluctant readers.


Ed. D.; A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Education.




English language -- Study and teaching; Literacy -- Study and teaching (Elementary); Vocabulary -- Study and teaching


Educational Leadership

Document Type

Doctoral dissertations




xiii, 106 leaves