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Title:An Investigation and Selective Assessment of Secondary School Reading Programs in Illinois
Author(s):Dixon, Karen Marcavage
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Reading
Abstract:In recent years, the well-publicized decline in standardized test scores and cases such as Peter Doe vs. the San Francisco Unified School District (Harper and Killarr, 1977) have spawned an outburst of public criticism directed at the public schools. Reading instruction and students' reading abilities are at the center of the controversy. But a question crucial to understanding the situation and correcting it if necessary has been ignored: What is the nature of the reading programs currently operating in the secondary schools, and how widely available is organized instruction at the secondary level? Hill (1971) noted "we know very little more about secondary school reading instruction and program operations in 1970 than we did one or two decades ago..." (p.28). Hill goes on to stress the need for detailed surveys and carefully reported results.
In Illinois, no thorough investigation of secondary school reading programs had been conducted since 1960. The present investigation was designed to determine the availability of reading instruction in secondary schools, to assess what proportion of the current programs might be considered good programs based on profession recommendation, to identify characteristics common to apparently successful programs, to discover needs in the areas of teacher training and program planning, and to determine the feasability of conducting a national study of secondary school reading programs.
A detailed questionnaire was sent to 1,100 middle, junior high, and senior high schools in Illinois. Responses from just under half of the schools indicated that reading instruction in some form was available in 78% of the schools. While this indicated some progress in terms of numbers of programs, remedial instruction was found to be offered most frequently, and there was some indication that nearly half of the students enrolled in reading classes were enrolled in classes designed to correct reading problems rather than to develop and refine reading skills. Advances in teacher training were revealed, but there still appears to be a shortage of qualified teachers in many areas. The most important finding in terms of the characterization of programs was the extremely small proportion of programs meeting the criteria of effective programs. Using a strict set of seven criteria, only 4.5% of the programs reported were considered exemplars of good programs; approximately 26% of the programs met three minimally accepted standards of quality. Nearly one-third of the reported programs were judged to have the potential to improve their quality.
Several suggestions are offered for improving program planning and teacher education, including increased articulation between secondary school reading educators and their colleagues in elementary schools; more systematic evaluation of the reading program; and the pooling of resources of small schools through consolidation in order to increase the likelihood of providing a program that meets the needs of all students.
Issue Date:1980
Description:230 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1980.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8108490
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-12
Date Deposited:1980

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