Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Ella Benson


Education is the foundation for the future, and a successful education begins with strong literacy skills. The 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress reported that only 36% of eighth-grade students in the United States were classified as reading on a proficient level, and 22% of eighth-grade students were unable to read and comprehend text at the basic level. The purpose of this quantitative, quasi-experimental, post hoc analysis was to determine whether a difference existed in the change in test scores of the reading portion of the Criterion Referenced Competency Test from the 2011-2012 academic year to the 2012-2013 academic year for eighth-grade students who received differentiated instruction compared with those who received direct instruction. Using Vygotsky's constructivist learning theory as the framework, this study was built on existing research regarding adolescence and literacy, cooperative learning, scaffolding, direct instruction, and differentiated instruction. Archival CRCT data was collected for sixty-four students. 32 that were instructed with differentiated instruction and thirty-two that were instructed with direct instruction for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 academic years. A one-way ANOVA was conducted to determine which instructional pedagogy yielded higher academic results. Overall results revealed no significant difference in academic achievement when differentiated instructional pedagogy or direct instructional pedagogy was used for instruction. Implications for positive social change include providing research results to administrators at the local site to better inform pedagogical decisions at the school level. Recommendations to the local site include further research on other strategies to improve literacy achievement in secondary classrooms.

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