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An Investigation into the Effects of Long-term Staff Development on Teacher Perceptions and Reading Achievement on Young Children

Description: The effectiveness of long-term staff development (Reading Academy Project-RAP) on students' reading scores on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) test was examined to determine if teachers transferred newly learned teaching strategies into practice and changed their beliefs about reading instruction. In a four-year cohort longitudinal study in an East Texas rural community, the effects of long-term staff development on third grade students' TAAS test reading scores, teacher practices, and teacher beliefs were explored. Populations included a teacher group (N = 17), an experimental (N = 419), and a control (N = 419) group of students. Children's groups were matched pairs based on five demographic characteristics and membership or non-membership in one or more of six categories. An application survey and four end-of-the-year surveys provided teacher data regarding classroom practices. One interview question provided information about teacher beliefs. Results indicate students who had a RAP teacher for at least one year scored significantly higher on the TAAS reading test in the third grade than those without a RAP teacher. Examination of students having more than one year with an academy teacher failed to produce statistically significant differences in TAAS test reading scores; however, an upward trend was noted. Statistically significant differences were found in 6 of the 20 items on the survey investigating classroom practices. All teachers reported the RAP affected them positively, and 82% confirmed that changes took place in their classroom practices, student behaviors, and teacher responsibilities. Validation of or strengthening existing beliefs accounted for 76% of the teacher responses. Recommendations include adding a population of kindergarten through third graders and following them through high school to determine ultimate reading success, continue surveying teachers to see if effective strategies persist, add a parental involvement component, and replicate this investigation in suburban and metropolitan areas.
Date: May 2003
Creator: Boatman, Vikki