Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Despite various instructional efforts, the second grade students in a mid-sized Southwestern school district failed to progress in reading. Although differentiated instruction has been shown to improve literacy skills for young readers, many teachers at the study site did not differentiate instruction for all students. Grounded in theories of social constructivism and differentiated instruction, the purpose of this study was to investigate second grade teachers' perspectives about using differentiated literacy instruction and the effect of their teaching experience and participation in professional development on those perspectives. Data for this nonexperimental, causal-comparative study were collected from 93 second grade teachers via an anonymous, online survey and were analyzed using ANOVA and t tests. No significant differences in perspectives were found among teachers based on years of experience nor participation in professional development tailored to instructing English language learners or gifted and talented students. However, teachers who took part in Response to Intervention professional development were more positive about using differentiated literacy instruction. Based on these findings, a professional development series was designed to provide second grade teachers with specific differentiated instruction strategies to raise all students' reading achievement. Teachers' effective application of differentiated literacy instruction strategies in the classroom at this study site will contribute to positive social change by providing educational opportunities for all students to learn to read. As students succeed in reading, they will succeed in the upper grades, in secondary school, and beyond.