Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




James B. Schiro


There is confusion among teachers in a school district in a southeastern state about the instructional use of the state-mandated Dominie assessment for word-level reading and phonemic awareness skills for kindergarten and first-grade students. Recent assessment data indicated that 20% of students tested in kindergarten and first grade needed remediation. The purpose of this qualitative, bounded case study of a primary school was to understand teachers' perceptions about using the Dominie assessment for instruction, and how these perceptions contribute to the decline in reading scores. Using constructivism as a conceptual framework, the research questions focused on the trends in students' Domine assessment scores, the perceptions of teachers regarding the use of the assessment in planning and instruction, and the actual use of assessment results for facilitating construction of students' learning in reading. Interview data were collected from 11 participants who are kindergarten and first-grade teachers who had administered the Dominie assessment in one school in the district. Themes emerged after data analysis yielding strategies to address needs for time for assessment, training and supplementary methods, improvements in the assessment itself, and special knowledge to use Dominie data. A professional development project that allows teachers to help students construct their learning in ways that encourages them to reflect on experiences and use prior knowledge to improve reading skills was developed. Positive social change might occur as teachers expand their knowledge and instructional approaches through this professional development project in ways that could improve learning and reading skills for kindergarten and first-grade students in this school and others in the district.