Date of Conferral







Bonnie B. Mullinix


Kindergarten students who are identified as at risk in reading often enter school with deficiencies in early reading skills. Little research exists for this vulnerable population on reading instruction in large, urban, school systems. The purpose of this multiple case study, which was guided by Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory of human development, was to describe urban kindergarten teachers' beliefs about the environmental factors that contribute to students' at-risk reading status, instructional practices employed to remediate reading, and teacher reports about systems in place to support student reading development. The multiple case study design included (a) structured interviews, (b) observations of kindergarten instructional practices in reading, and (c) a review of documents relevant to the delivery of instruction and home literacy assignments in 3 schools situated in 3 northeastern districts in the United States of America. The constant comparative method utilized included data coding, category development, and identification of themes. Findings indicated that (a) teachers believe parental involvement would influence the development of kindergartners' early reading skills; (b) teachers used a core and phonics curriculum within a print-rich environment to teach early reading skills, with variation in approaches seen within and across school sites; (c) there is a lack of professional development within the schools to enhance kindergarten reading instruction; and (d) the schools' instructional practices may not be part of a coherent instructional philosophy. This study contributes to positive social change by providing educators with a deeper understanding of how to remediate reading with attention to the environmental factors at-risk readers experience at home and school.