Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Currently some elementary students in large urban school districts are not able to perform well in school because they do not have strong reading skills. The recent No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal legislation has supported the use of research-based instructional materials and strategies in reading to remedy this problem; however, qualitative studies exploring the specific nonquantifiable instructional factors that contribute to reading achievement in large urban school districts are still limited. The purpose of this multiple empirical case study was to explore the instructional factors that contributed to achievement in reading for students in Grades 3 and 4 at 2 urban midwestern elementary schools. The conceptual framework for this study was based on the philosophy of constructivism, which provided an understanding about how students learn to read in terms of creating meaning and constructing knowledge. The methodology of this qualitative multiple case study involved collection and analysis of data from multiple sources of evidence, including interviews, observations, and documents. The first level of data analysis used the specific analytic technique of category construction recommended by Merriam; the second level of data analysis used the general analytic technique of theory development as suggested by Yin and Merriam and, using that technique, a theoretical proposition was confirmed. Findings of this study indicated that direct and explicit instruction, including the consistent use of early literacy indicators and specific instructional strategies in reading, was the most significant factor in contributing to reading achievement for students. Implications for positive social change in education include improvement in reading instruction and assessment as well as improved district policies related to the development of high quality instructional reading programs.