Improving Reading Comprehension Strategy

Abstract

The proposed study seeks to determine the relationship between parental Involvement and underserved urban schools’ academic achievement. It focuses on this subject in the context of early literacy and examines intervention responses for kindergarten to grade 2 students in an underserved community in Atlanta. In addition to recognizing the role of parents, then the study is also aiming to highlight concerns that teachers and administrators have regarding interventions used for early literacy improvement for the target study population. The proposed study sample is 100 parents and 100 students. The findings of the study will be relevant for generalization to overall underserved communities in the United States.

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Introduction

Students at any reading ability level need to be coached on how to solve problem and think critically as active readers to improve overall reading comprehension. Overall, the intent of the study would be proving reading comprehension ability stems from several factors: vocabulary level, recall and memory, reader’s background knowledge, fluency, motivation, and knowledge of reading comprehension strategies. Active readers who employ a variety of problem-solving skills and metacognitive strategies are going to come away from a passage with a deeper understanding and comprehension than passive readers who merely read the text. Some problem-solving strategies in terms of reading comprehension are: looking at the title and making predictions, activating and reflecting on prior knowledge before reading the text. Others include making connections between the text and their personal experiences, drawing inferences while reading each paragraph or section, noting important literary devices like symbolism or metaphors, and making notes of important questions or challenges that the text may arise. One successful way to encourage students to be more active problem solvers with their reading is to coach them on how to annotate (actively marking, highlighting, and note-taking) the reading passage.

Low-income families have relied on various interventions for their children that promote school readiness skills. Such projects focus on oral language skills, phonological awareness, print awareness, alphabet knowledge among other skills. When evaluating such projects, it is important to have a multi-stakeholder perspective (Xu, Chin, Reed, & Hutchinson, 2013). Therefore, it would be appropriate to look at child outcomes, classroom environments, family/home environment, instructional practices, parent attitude towards early literacy, and the extent of family involvement in the child’s or school’s early literacy activities (Xu et al., 2013).

Problem statement

Reading is a complex activity that engages philosophies, pedagogies, curricula, and programs at an early childhood learning state. Most children who do not learn to read end up having difficulties later in life about reading well, and, therefore, are challenged in the rest of their formal learning (Sloat, Beswick, & Willms, 2007). Teachers and administrators are looking for concrete and instruction-relevant mechanisms to produce data that allow them to evaluate initiatives according to their goals and areas for strengthening. Such mechanisms can provide aggregate data to formulate and evaluate policy decisions (Sloat et al., 2007). Parents play an important role in a child’s literacy development. They provide interaction; focus on reading and offer resources for reading and writing.

Objectives

The research will provide a valid assessment mechanism for the early screening of children to determine the need for intervention measures to aid early literacy. It will also establish the particular early intervention measures that learning institutions need to use for the identified students after the screening. The intervention measures are derived from existing literature on early literacy. It will also act as a guide for appropriate ways to bring up interventions to ensure they remain relevant and in predicting and being predictable as tools for schools to use. Key insights from the study will include the incorporation of technologies as attributes of interventions and assessment of the role that technologies play to boost parent involvement in already existing interventions.

Research questions and hypothesis

  • R1 – What is the relationship between Parental Involvement and underserved urban schools’ academic achievement?
  • H1 – Parental Involvement plays a tremendous role in a student’s academic life; teachers cannot teach their students alone.

Conceptual framework

Studies looking into reading disability detection and intervention at early stages focus on children in kindergarten to grade two. This is based on findings showing that after grade 2, interventions are less effective at detecting and dealing with the problem. The appropriate screening should incorporate word reading accuracy and fluency (Catts, Petscher, Schatschneider, Bridges, & Mendoza, 2009). Besides, in any early literacy study, there is a need to bring about the interest of many stakeholders. They include students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Studies must also focus on empirical evidence that is part of effective practice (Sprugevica & Høien, 2003). There is support for early intervention programs showing that after grade 3, assisted students are capable of catching up with those who were already good (Sprugevica & Høien, 2003). According to Davoudzadeh, McTernan, and Grimm (2015), grade retention/repetition can be predicted at grade three by low early academic skills. These skills are reading, math, and general knowledge skills. The study shows that the appropriate intervention in early literacy, including the appropriate readiness of children before and at kindergarten helps to prevent grade retention outcomes especially at grade 3.

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Methodology

The study will follow early screening procedures for 100 children at kindergarten all the way to second grade. Students monitored will be aged 5-7. This study will be seeking to investigate the intervention mechanism and the effect of parents’ involve childhood early literacy development. The focus of the study will be Atlanta, GA where the underserved communities will be identified. The methodology and research purpose recognize the fact that teachers play an important role in early literacy, but they do not control all variables in eventual child literacy development. They can do so much in the school setting, but parents make choices regarding economic support, stressing the importance of school-going age for their children. It will collect data using semi-structured interviews with 100 minority parents about their involvement and their interpretation of the child’s performance and intervention mechanisms at school. It will also use a standardized testing for the participating students to examine the effects of the intervention and parental involvement in the interventions. The study will then analyze the outcome of student testing and parental interviews to determine key themes of the research and use them to analyze additional relations among students, interventions, parents, and teachers’ participation in early literacy.

The use of 100 as the study population of students and parents is a convenience sample picked based on the resources available for the study and considerations of other studies that have focused on student testing and early literacy. The study will also use the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) standard as a guide for testing literacy (Huang, 2014). The standard has been used successfully in other studies as part of the measurement method or as part of a compound measurement for interventions (Huang & Konold, 2014). This will be a longitudinal study following the students over three years. However, due to limitations of study time and its scope, data collected by other surveys might be used to cover gaps in the three years. Studies such as Durán, Roseth, Hoffman, and Robertshaw (2013) and Pinto, Bigozzi, and Gamannossi (2012) that focused on aspects of early literacy successfully used longitudinal research design to deliver their findings and maintain their generalizability.

The study notes that teachers play the biggest role in shifting parents’ attitudes towards their children and early literacy goals. This study will, therefore, study the involvement of teachers in influencing parents’ involvement in intervention programs and assess this role to determine whether it needs strengthening or works well.

The study looked at examples of K-2 initiatives that schools were using, such as 90 minutes daily used for learning activities and the appointment of school-based literacy mentors to support teachers and students. The study also identified an increase in financial resources at the k-2 level and the implementation of other wide-ranging initiatives that targeted struggling students. The study showed that all initiatives need valid assessment mechanisms.

There have been other studies using a similar methodology as the proposed one. A study by Sprugevica and Høien (2003) investigated the power of earlier measures of phonological skills. It followed 70 children from kindergarten to middle of grade 2. It used a traditional regression analysis to show that phonemic awareness in kindergarten explained about 27% of the variance in work reading six months later. By the end of grade 1, the variance was 9.5%. For sentence reading as a variable, phonemic awareness explained 16% of the variance after six months and 13% of the variance in the middle of grade 2. The researchers also used curve analysis to show that the phonological factor was the only one accountable for significant variance in word reading. It explained about 25% of the variance. Their study also revealed that naming and short-term memory failed to explain the variance.

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The study by Catts et al. (2009) administered a battery of screening measures to 366 children at the beginning of kindergarten and then undertook process-monitoring probes across the school year. For a subset that showed the initial risk of reading disabilities, the researchers offered a 26-week Tier 2 intervention. They show that with an appropriate screening battery, it is possible to identify accurately good and poor readers at the end of grade 1. By following 405 students from the beginning of kindergarten to grade 2, Huang and Invernizzi (2012), show that the youngest students were scoring lower than their older peers when they joined kindergarten. The difference narrowed but was not eliminated by the time the cohort reached grade 2. Significantly, the study population was from high-poverty, low-performing schools. The study shows that following the same cohort throughout kindergarten to grade two helps to bring up valid findings of factors to use for the assessment of interventions.

Other than only looking at variables covered by prior research on the subject, it is also experimentally valid to focus on newer variables that can help inform hypotheses and fall within the framework for early literacy interventions. Parental influence on early childhood learning may aid literacy development and compensate for underserved conditions as part of a learning environment. In a study investigating the “Building Blocks”, a pre-kindergarten mathematics curriculum Sarama, Lange, Clements, and Wolfe (2012) looked at oral language and letter recognition. It used a large-scale cluster randomized trial methodology. It showed no difference in student outcome in oral language subtests namely sentence length and inferential reasoning for emotive content after undertaking the “Building Blocks” program. On the other hand, it showed the “Building Blocks” intervention being effective at other oral language subtests like the ability to recall keywords, use of complex utterances, and willingness to reproduce narratives independently as well inferential reasoning for practical content (Sarama et al., 2012).

Anticipated benefits

The study findings will validate findings from prior studies such as Sprugevica and Høien (2003). There is a need for further studies of early literacy interventions to determine whether predictions and outcomes of prior studies are still valid. An example is the study by Sprugevica and Høien (2003) showed that naming and short-term memory failed to explain variance in early literacy, yet prior studies had pointed out the existence of naming and short-term memory as a predictor. This study will be introducing a new variable for early literacy intervention investigations. It will include parental involvement, which will lead to new findings that can help explain variances highlighted by other studies or indicate other study gaps that will need addressing in future research.

The study by Weiser (2013) shows that encoding and decoding instruction in first-grade classrooms, when combined with supplemental intervention programs, could be the missing link in decreasing and preventing reading failure at higher grades. This study will contribute to these findings and other similar findings by showing how the involvement of parents as a supplemental intervention aids existing mechanisms for improving early literacy. It will provide a measure of the significance of any observed relation between parental involvement and positive outcomes in ongoing teaching/administration interventions in early childhood learning in underserved communities in Atlanta, GA. The findings will also be relevant for generalization to overall underserved communities in the United States.

References

Catts, H. W., Petscher, Y., Schatschneider, C., Bridges, M. S., & Mendoza, K. (2009). Floor effects associated with universal screening and their impact on the early identification of reading disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42(2), 163-176.

Davoudzadeh, P., McTernan, M. L., & Grimm, K. J. (2015). Early school readiness predictors of grade retention from kindergarten through eighth grade: A multilevel discrete-time survival analysis approach. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 32, 183-192.

Durán, L., Roseth, C., Hoffman, P., & Robertshaw, M. B. (2013). Spanish-speaking preschoolers’ early literacy Development: A longitudinal experimental comparison of predominantly English and transitional bilingual education. Bilingual Research Journal, 36(1), 6-34.

Huang, F. L. (2014). Using a bifactor model to assess the factor structure of the phonological awareness literacy screening for grades 1 through 5. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 32(7), 638-650.

Huang, F. L., & Invernizzi, M. A. (2012). The association of kindergarten entry age with early literacy outcomes. The Journal of Education Research, 105(6), 431-441.

Huang, F. L., & Konold, T. R. (2014). A latent variable investigation of the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening-Kindergarten assessment: Construct identification and multigroup comparisons between Spanish-speaking English-language learners (ELLs) and non-ELL students. Language Testing, 31(2), 205-221.

Pinto, G., Bigozzi, L., & Gamannossi, B. A. (2012). Emergent literacy and early writing skills. The Journal of Genetic Psychology: Research and Theory on Human Development, 173(3), 330-354.

Sarama, J., Lange, A. A., Clements, D. H., & Wolfe, C. B. (2012). The impacts of an early mathematics curriculum on oral language and literacy. Early Childhood Research Quartely, 27(3), 489-502.

Sloat, E. A., Beswick, J. F., & Willms, D. (2007). Using early literacy monitoring to prevent reading failure. Phi Delta Kappan, 88(7), 523-529.

Sprugevica, I., & Høien, T. (2003). Early phonological skills as a predictor of reading acquisition: A follow‐up study from kindergarten to the middle of grade 2. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology,, 44(2), 119-124.

Weiser, B. L. (2013). Ameliorating reading disabilities early: Examining an effective encoding and decoding prevention instruction model. Learning Disability Quarterly, 36(3), 161-171.

Xu, Y., Chin, C., Reed, E., & Hutchinson, C. (2013). The effects of a comprehensvie early literacy project on preschoolers’ language and literacy skills. Early Childhood Educational Journal, 42(5), 295-304.

Improving Reading Comprehension Strategy
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