Committee Chair

Rutledge, Valerie

Committee Member

Miller, Ted; Johnston, Linda; Stewart, Bryan


Dept. of Education


College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Reading proficiency has been declining in the US schools. The Reading First (RF) program was designed to combat this trend. The purpose of this study was to investigate the reasons why some RF programs were successful and some were not. The study brings a Tennessee perceptive to the research of the relationship between literacy instruction implementation factors and school performance. In this study, reading proficiency assessment data were used to assign the included Tennessee RF schools to one of three categories: highly successful, moderately successful, and Unsuccessful. It was somewhat troubling to see that in some schools as many as 20% of third graders score below proficiency in reading. To identify common features of literacy instruction in successful schools, an ordinal logistic regression was conducted with school category as the outcome and predictor variables related to literacy instruction, learning environment, and school-level professional development. The findings of the study raise some questions when compared with review of relevant research literature. Nine of the ten predictor variables were found to be significantly related to a school’s categorization as Highly Successful, Moderately Successful, or Unsuccessful. While some of the literacy instruction elements, unanimously identified by existing research as best practices in reading instruction (including the five essential components of reading instruction), were positively correlated with schools’ successful status, other practices identified as effective by previous research, were negatively correlated with success. Further research could clarify and further investigate these issues. A conclusion that emerged from the results could be that, for a literacy program to have an impact of the school’s improved performance (students reading proficiency), it should be comprehensive and incorporate a variety of instructional practices determined by research to be effective. In addition, multiple professional development strategies and learning environment factors also play an important role in the successful implementation of a reading program. The results of this study might prompt reading researchers and practitioners to continue investigating the effect of interventions and to strive to ensure that best instructional practices are implemented with fidelity and do what they are intended to do – help students achieve and excel in reading.


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.




Literacy; Literacy programs




Literacy instruction; Reading First; Reading proficiency



Document Type

Doctoral dissertations


xi, 107 leaves




Under copyright.


Included in

Education Commons