Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Jerita Whaley


In a middle school in the southern United States, administrators and teachers are concerned that approximately 40% of sixth-grade students are reading below grade level despite intervention programs. The purpose of this mixed-methods case study was to inquire whether a cross-age peer mentoring program would improve sixth-graders' reading achievement and motivation to read. The theoretical framework for the study was Vygotsky's constructivist theory, with a focus on scaffolding. Research questions focused on sixth-grade students' perception of their participation in a cross-age peer mentoring program and the effect of the program on reading achievement and motivation. Data were collected through pre- and post administrations of the Standardized Test for the Assessment of Reading (STAR) and the Motivation to Read Profile (MRP), observations during the mentoring sessions, and interviews with the 6 sixth-grade participants. STAR and MRP scores indicated that each sixth-grade participant demonstrated reading growth and an increase in motivation to read. Observations revealed positive interactions between the 6 mentors and mentees, and during the interviews, participants described the mentoring program as beneficial to reading growth. The findings from the study led to the development of a professional development project for teachers. The results of this study related to social change indicated that participation in a cross-age peer mentoring program may increase students' reading achievement and motivation to read. The professional development project for teachers and administrators is designed to assist educators in designing and implementing peer mentoring programs to improve reading achievement.