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1 SECOND RESEARCH BASED READING STRATEGIES ACROSS THE CURRICULUM By SARAH ANN ALTIER A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF T HE REQUIREMENTS FOR TH E DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF EDUCATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2012
2 2012 Sarah Ann Altier
3 To Jeff, who sat beside me in my first education class and has remained beside me ever since with encouragement, patience, and love Al s o to Heath, Brianne, and Garrett I love being your mom.
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to express my deep appreciation to the administrators and tea chers who gave up their valuable time to participate in this study. Th eir dedication and professionalism is inspiring. I also would like to acknowledge the support and collegiality of my fellow Collier County coho rt members, especially Michele Meyer who was invaluable in conducting peer review of my research and Dr. Bruce Mousa who wa s ever helpful in gui ding us on our way. Dr. Fran Vandiver, Dr. Maria Coady, and Dr. Bernard Oliver agreed to sit on my committee, and I genuinely appreciate the time that they spent on my behalf Of course, I would never have accomplished my goals without the loving support o f my husband and children, to whom I owe more than can be expressed. M y parents always instilled in me the value of education, and I thank them for that. Lastly, I would like to thank Mrs. Cox, my kindergarten teacher, and Dr. Linda Beha r Horenstein, my cu rrent teacher They have always made the world of learning a place I wanted to be.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 8 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 9 LIST OF TERMS AND DEFINITIONS ................................ ................................ ........... 10 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 13 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 15 Statement of the Problem ................................ ................................ ....................... 15 Purpose of the Study ................................ ................................ .............................. 18 Research Questions ................................ ................................ ............................... 18 Limitations of the Study ................................ ................................ ........................... 18 Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ........................ 19 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ................................ ................................ ............ 20 Research Based Reading Strategies ................................ ................................ ...... 20 The Importance of Secondary Reading Programs ................................ .................. 22 The Importance of School Leaders in Secondary Reading Programs .................... 27 Recommendations for Secondary Reading Programs ................................ ............ 36 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 39 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 41 Purpose of the Study ................................ ................................ .............................. 41 Setting ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 41 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 42 Methods ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 44 Qualitative Research ................................ ................................ ........................ 44 Qualitative Interviews ................................ ................................ ....................... 45 Focus Groups ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 46 Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 47 Procedures ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 48 Researcher Bias ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 50 4 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 52 Fremantle High School ................................ ................................ ........................... 52 Research Question 1: How does the school leadership promote the use of research based reading strategies across the school curriculum? ................ 52
6 Leadership beliefs ................................ ................................ ...................... 52 ................................ .......................... 53 Data based decisions ................................ ................................ ................ 54 Actions by Leadership ................................ ................................ ...................... 57 Professional development ................................ ................................ .......... 59 Classroom observations ................................ ................................ ............. 63 Professional co nversations ................................ ................................ ........ 64 Providing diverse programs to meet the needs of students ....................... 66 Research Question 2: What factors facilitate and/or i mpede the infusion of research based reading strategies into instruction at the school? ................. 69 Facilitating Factors ................................ ................................ ........................... 69 Leadership ................................ ................................ ................................ 69 Professional development ................................ ................................ .......... 71 Money ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 72 Impeding Factors ................................ ................................ .............................. 75 Impeding factors for which solutions were found ................................ ....... 75 Impeding factors still to be faced ................................ ................................ 77 Research Question 3: How does the school leadership hold teachers accountable for infusing research based reading strategies into their instruction? ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 79 Accountability at Fre mantle High School ................................ .......................... 79 Maylands High School ................................ ................................ ............................ 82 Research Question 1: How does the school leadership promote the use of research ba sed reading strategies across the school curriculum? ................ 82 Leadership beliefs ................................ ................................ ...................... 82 Need to focus on other areas ................................ ................................ ..... 85 Limited time and money ................................ ................................ ............. 86 Actions by Leadership ................................ ................................ ...................... 86 Research Question 2: What facto rs facilitate and/or impede the infusion of research based reading strategies into instruction at the school? ................. 90 Facilitating Factors ................................ ................................ ........................... 90 Leadership ................................ ................................ ................................ 90 Faculty ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 93 New school ................................ ................................ ................................ 94 Impeding Factors ................................ ................................ .............................. 97 Time ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 97 Money ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 98 Faculty turnover ................................ ................................ ......................... 99 Focus on new programs ................................ ................................ ............. 99 State mandates ................................ ................................ ........................ 100 Research Question 3: How does the school le adership hold teachers accountable for infusing research based reading strategies into their instruction? ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 103 Accountability at Maylands High School ................................ ......................... 103 5 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 106
7 Summary of the Findings ................................ ................................ ...................... 106 Leadership Actions ................................ ................................ ............................... 108 Relationship to Prior Research ................................ ................................ ............. 111 Managing Challenges ................................ ................................ ..................... 112 Differentiated Leadership ................................ ................................ ............... 114 Funding ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 117 Sustainability and Accountability ................................ ................................ .... 118 Motivation ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 119 Teacher Buy in ................................ ................................ ............................... 120 Implications of the Findings ................................ ................................ .................. 122 Suggestions for Future Research ................................ ................................ ......... 124 Limitations of the Study ................................ ................................ ......................... 125 Conclusion of the Research Study ................................ ................................ ........ 126 APPENDIX A INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEW PROTOCOL ................................ ................................ 127 B U NIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INFORMED CONSENT FORM ................................ 128 C FOCUS GROUP INTERVIEW PROTO COL ................................ ......................... 129 D S AMPLE CODE SHEETS ................................ ................................ ..................... 130 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 13 6 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETC H ................................ ................................ .......................... 142
8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3 1 Fremantle High School p articipants ................................ ................................ .. 43 3 2 Maylan ds High Schoo l p articipants ................................ ................................ ... 44
9 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page Figure 4 based reading ins truction ................................ ................................ .............................. 68 Figure 4 2. Fremantle High School factors that facilitated the infusion of research based reading strategies ................................ ................................ .................... 74 Figure 4 3. Fremantle High School factors that impeded the infusion of research based reading strategies ................................ ................................ .................... 78 Figure 4 based reading instruc tion ................................ ................................ .............................. 89 Figure 4 5. Maylands High School factors that facilitated the infusion of research based reading strategies ................................ ................................ .................... 96 Figure 4 6. M ayla nds High School factors that impeded the infusion of research based reading strategies ................................ ................................ .................. 102
10 LIST O F TERMS AND DEFINITI ONS Case s tudy Intensive study of an individual, institution, organization, or some bounded gr oup, p lace or process over time Coding Th e process of analyzing data, which can include breaking down an interview transcript into manageable segments, usually organized by theme s or concept s and attaching keywords to each segment to permit later retrieval an d analysis Coding memos R eflective comments (sometimes referred to as field notes) that researchers write for themselves during the process of gathering and analyzing data CAR PD Content Area Reading P rofessional Development. A program from Just Read, Flo rida! that enables subject area teachers to deliver reading str ategies in their classes CRISS Creating Independence t h rough Student owned Strategies. A set of readi ng strategies developed by Cris Tovani to assist students to become independent r eaders FCAT Florida Compr ehensive Achievement Test. A series of cr iterion referenced tests administered to Florida students in grades 3 11 to measure selected benchmarks in mathematics, reading science, and writing FPLS Florida Principal Leadership Standards. C ompetencies in instructional leadership, operational leadership, and school leadership identified by the Florida Department of Education as necessary skills for school leaders to enable their effective performance of designated tasks FRI Florida Reading Initiative. A research based school wide reform effort committed to providing the prof essional development and follow up support necessary for schools to improve s tudent achievement in reading Focus group A group interview that draws upon communication b etween research participants as a means to generate data Gatekeeper A n individual who help s the researcher identify study participants and who provides entry to the research site Just Read, Florida! A c omprehensive and coordinated reading initiative that has guided
11 Literacy A broad term that, for the purpose of this study, refers to the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think cr itically about printed material Literacy leaders S cho ol administrators and teachers who demonstrate superior leadership qualities and who advance policies to foster excellence in literacy education Member checking A process of p interpretations to the i nterviewees to check for accuracy NRP National Reading Panel. A panel convened by Congress in 1997 to review research based knowledge on read ing instruction. Their findings were published in 2000 in The R eport of the Na tional Reading Panel: Teaching C hi l dren to Read NCLB No Ch ild Left Behind Act. NCLB was passed by Congress in 2002 ; the act requires that all children be assessed each year to determine whether they show adequate yearly progress in reading and mathematics Peer review A process by which other researchers review the primary Pilot test In a qualitative study, a pilot test refers to the presenting of interview questions to individuals for the purpose of receiving their feedback on the questions prior to the start of the study. Based on their feedback, i f necessary, the researcher will clarify or modify the questions Probe S ub questions related to the main interview questions that are used by the interviewer to elicit more information Professional A comprehensive, system at ic plan for creating and implementing a development program to train educators in scientif ically based reading strategies for reading that includes the principles of effective reading instruction PLC Professional learning community. S ometimes known as a collaborative l earning community (CLC ), a PLC is a team of teachers who collaborate and engage in collective inquiry Typically, the PLC will examin e data about their school and/or district and use the data to set goals and to d etermine instructional practice
12 Purposeful A process of deliberately selecting interviewees who will yield sampling information rich interviews Reading A complex and purpo seful sociocultural, cognitive, and linguistic process in which readers simultaneously use their knowledge of spoken and written language, their knowledge of the topic of the text, and their knowledge of their culture to construct meaning from the text ( Na tional Council for Teachers of English 2011) Reciprocal An instr uctional activity that occurs as a dialogue between teachers t eaching and students in regard to segments of text. The dialogue is structured by the use of four strategies: summarizing, qu estion generating, clarifying, and predicting. The teacher and students take turns assuming the role of teac her in leading this dialogue Scientifically Strategies developed through rigorous, systematic, and empirical based reading research methods tha t meet the criteria of the National Reading strategies Panel STEM A n educational focus on the fields of study of science, technology, e ngine ering, and m athematics Struggling readers T hose who exhibit one, all, or a combination of the following: di fficulty in decoding words, difficulty in decoding text, difficulty in comprehending, poor oral reading fluency, or poor vocabulary skills Taxonomy A classification scheme of the themes, categories, and subcategories suggested by the interview data
13 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education SECOND ACTIONS TO INFUSE RESEARCH BASED READING STRATEGIES ACROSS THE CURRICULUM By Sarah Ann Altier May 2012 Chair: Linda Behar Horenstein Major: Edu ca tional Leadership A double case stud y w as conducted in two high schools in a small district in northeast Fl orida to determine how the school leaders ensure that research based reading strategies are implemented across th e curriculum. Nine individual q ualitative interviews and two focus group interviews of principals, assistant principals, reading coac hes and teacher leaders were conducted to address the following research questions: (a ) How does the school leadership promote the use of research based reading strategies across the school curriculum? (b ) What factors facilitate and/or impede the infusio n of research based reading instruction at the school? and (c ) How does the school leadership hold teachers accountable for infusing research based reading strategies into instruction? An analysis of the interviews found that differentiated leadership is needed to promo te high school reading programs. To focus on literacy, o ne school with a history of low reading achievement scores instituted professional learning communities that used data based decisions to determine which research based reading strate gies would
14 be utilized in every classroom as a means of improving reading achievement This school demonstrated large gains in read ing scores that they were able to sustain. The second school, which had consistently above average reading scores, pilot ed a new STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) academy, necessitating a focus on science and math This new focus drifting away from continuous explicit reinforcement of research based reading strategies. Neverthele ss t his school maintained its above average reading scores and moreover, their math achievement greatly improved. Both schools encouraged teacher accountability through administrators active presence in classrooms.
15 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Statement of t he Problem The 2 1st century has witnessed a wave of accountability that focuses on student achievement. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) have placed an emphasis on school performance, particularly i n math and reading. As a result, princip als are expected to ensure high quality instruction in all areas but in math and reading, in particular. responsibility. However, for schools to cultivate a culture of literacy, all staff members, including content area teachers and school administrators, must take responsibility for improving the reading level of all students. Teachers are not the only educators going to empower students to take command of their reading, administrators need to 48). The primacy of effective reading instruction cannot be overesti mated. According to the Florida Depart ment of Education (2006) : Research strongly indicates that failure to learn to read is the most compelling reason that children are retained, assigned to special education, or given long term intervention services. Th e goal of quality reading instruction must be to ensure that all children learn to read well and that they bec ome successful r eaders ( p. 2) As instructional leaders principals are charged with ensuring that students make adequate progress in reading. The y must provide teachers with essential resources and the materials necessary to be successful in the classroom, continuously update their knowledge of the latest developments in reading education research, and collaborate
16 with teachers to incorporate best practices into instruction (Alvermann, 2004; Blase & Blase, 2004; Fisher, Frey, & Williams, 2008; Guthrie, 2008; Hock & Deshler, 2003; Hoy & Hoy, 2006; Irvin, Meltzer & Dukes, 2007; Mullen & Hutinger, 2008; National Association of Secondary School Princip als [ NASSP ] 2001; Phillips, 2005). Most of the literature on elementary school principals. W ith the emergence of secondary school reading programs however, ther secondary reading programs is warranted. S tatistics also support the need for this inquiry. In 2009 graders were reading at or above grade level, but only 37% of 10th graders were reading at or above grad e level (Florida De partment of Education, 2009 ). Further, over the past decade the percentage of 3rd graders who were considered proficient readers rose from 57% to 71%, but again, 1 0th graders lagged behind, showing no such growth. Since 1999 the perce ntage of 1 0th graders who read at or above grade level has hovered at about 37% (Florida Department of Education, 2009 ). Clearly the drop off between 3 rd and 10 th grade, c oupled with the failure of 10 th graders to make progress over a decade is troubling. The factors that contribute to this drop off warrant investigation. High school students who struggle ntensive, focused, 51). Moreover, whereas mo st elementary school principals were probably elementary school teachers at one time and, as such, experienced in teaching reading, most high school principals taught in diverse subject areas. Many have little or no ex perience teaching reading (Irvin et al 2007). As Shanahan (2004) stated have little
17 preparation in reading; it is almost never a part of their credentialing and few have much practical experience in teaching it, especially given that so few high school teachers have taught liter Regardless of their background or teaching experience, principals remain responsible for improving reading achievement at their schools. R elatively little is know n however, about how secondary principals ensure that their schools provide ef fective instruction for struggling readers or how they rally their faculties to commit to reading initiatives. The Florida Prin cipal Leadership Standards hold Performing Leaders promote a positive learning culture, provide an effective instruct ional program, and apply best practices to student learning, especially in the para. 2 ). The effective schools f ramewor k also notes that the principal should be the instructional leader of the school (Association for Effective Schools, 2007), which, by extension, makes the principal the literacy leader as well. On September 7, 2001, then Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed Executive Order 01 260 which launched Just Read, Florida! a comprehensive and coordinated reading initiative. R eading program specifications were developed that put forth For example, Specification Two states, An effective reading program is sustained through the effective practices of the school and district administrators that support high Florida Department of Education 2002, p. 6). Th us school leaders in Florida need to be
18 cannot think of reading instruction as a challenge for reading teachers alone. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to understand and descr ibe sele cted school o f research based reading strategies By examining the actions taken by school leaders to promote the use of research based reading strategies at their schools possible d eficiencies can be identified and successes can be shared with other school leaders. The study examined the following research questions: Research Questions 1. How does the school leadership (i.e., principal or designee, assistant principals, reading coach) p romote the use of research based reading strategies across the school curriculum? 2. What factors facilitate and/or impede the infusion of research based reading strategies into instruction at the school? 3. How does the school leadership hold teachers accountab le for infusing research based reading str ategies into their instruction? Limitations of the Study This study wa s limited to a single school district comprised of two high schools. The data collected reflect only the experiences and perceptions of the part icipants in these schools and are not representative of or applicable to other districts. The p rincipals of t he two schools studied were gatekee pers to the other participants. T herefore, those interviewed were chosen by the princ ipals to participate, which possibly pos ed a threat to trustworthiness. Furthe r, the purpose of the research wa s to explore the perceptions only of school leaders. Parents, students, and teachers not
19 t perceptions, were not included in the scope of this study. Significance of the Study School districts invest substantial amounts of time and money into professional development initiatives. M any of these initiatives have focus ed on improving school read ing scores. Additionally, NCLB has placed a new focus on re ading achievement that centers on reading instruction and achievement in the lower grades. There is little research about how secondary leaders have been responding to the mandate or how they have been ensuring that classroom teachers use scientifically based reading strategies during instruction. This study investigated the extent to which secondary school leaders ensure d t he implementation of researched based reading strategies and how they h e ld t hemselves and their staffs accountable for improving the reading program at their schools. The results of the study may assist in clarifying the roles of high scho ol leadership promoting reading instruction across the curriculum. The findings are likely to encourage self reflection among the individuals, schools and district in this study and may prompt leaders from other districts to examine their own processes for supporting reading instruction.
20 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERA TURE This chapter presents a review the literature pertinent to this study. The r esearch reviewed focuses on research based reading strategies, the importance of secondary school reading programs, the importance of school leaders in secondary reading programs, and recommendations fo r secondary school reading programs. Research Based Reading Strategies Although educators agree that reading needs to be emphasized at all levels historically there has been little agreement on the best way to improve reading skills ( Allington, 200 5a) P honics versus whole language approaches, the role of technology in reading instruction, and the importance of fluency are some of the issues about which researchers have differing beliefs. In 1997 the debate over what constituted good reading instructi on culminated in the formation of the National Rea ding Panel (NRP) charged by Congress with the task of scientifically evaluating reading strategies. Existing studies on reading strategies, from 1961 through 1997 were analyzed by NRP The criteria for in clusion in this analysis were empirical findings, replicability, and generalizabil ity (Shanahan & Neuman, 1997). The findings of N RP, published in 2000, were the basis of scientific research based reading instruction during the following decade (Cassidy, V aladez, & of reading instruction were identified as phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension ( NRP 2000). The state of Florida used the re search of NRP as the basis of their Just Read, Florida! initiative (F lorida Department of Education, 2002). The panel advocated the
21 approach literacy concluding that all aspects of literacy instruction should be systematically integrated int favoring one approach over an other (Cassidy et al. 2010; NRP, 2000; Ontar i 2009) M any education professionals questioned the findings and the methodology used in their analysis (Allin gton, 2004; Allington, 2005b; Cunningham, 2001; International Reading Association 2002). criteria for inclusion, noting that valid studies had been overlooked because they did not meet the criteria (Allington, 2005b; Biancarosa & S now, 2006; Cunningham, 2001). Some r esearchers voiced their concern that rigidly following the recommendations of size fits needs of students (Allington, 2005b; Ho ck & Deshler, 2003; Parris & Block, 2007). government, through NCLB mandates, to hold schools to impossible standards. In 2006 the Alliance for Excellent Education mad e recommendations for adolescent reading instruction that included 15 key elements of effective adolescent (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). The key elements included direct explicit instruction, instruction imbedded in content, motivation and self dir ected learning, collaborative learning, strategic tutoring, diverse texts, intensive writing, technology components, ongoing formative assessment, extended time for reading instruction, professional development, ongoing summative assessment of students and programs, teacher teams, leadership, and a comprehensive and coordinated literacy prog ram (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). Unlike NRP, the Alliance for Excellent Education arrived at
22 a s ubstantial base in research and/or professional opinion (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006, p. 12, emphasis added). Vogt and Shearer (2003) took a more sociocultural view of reading research and made four assertions: (a) literacy practices are shaped by the cultu ral val ues of the school and community; (b) collaboration should be at the center of reading instruction; (c) self efficacy and motivation should be corn erstones of a reading program; and (d) teachers should emphasize the modeling of reading strategies rat her than just the teaching of them. Although not all researchers agree on what constitutes the most effective reading instruction strategies, most educators agree that teacher training in reading methods is crucial to students becoming successful reader s (Biancarosa & Snow, 200 6 ; Carnegie Corporation 2009; Cassidy et al., 2010; International Reading Association, 2002; Radencich, Beers, & Schumm, 1997; Vogt & Shearer, 2003). The Importance of Secondary Reading Programs There is a great deal of r esearch on ele mentary school reading program s, but there is much less on high school reading programs (Biancarosa & Snow, 200 6 ; Biancarosa, Deshler, Nair, & Palin sc ar, 2007; Conley, Friedhoff, Sherry, & Tuckey, 2008; Irvin et a l., 2007 ; Jetton & Dole, 2004). Furt her, as Biancarosa and Snow stated M any excellent third grade readers will falter or fail in later grade academic tasks if the 1). Research also indicates that literacy instruction is more difficult for secondary students because the demands of high school content reading are more complex and subject specific, and the motivation to read appears to wane as students go on to the upper grades (Biancarosa & Snow, 200 6 ; Carnegie Corporati on 2009; Stevens & Bean, 2003).
23 Moreover, Jetton and Alexander (2004) found that teachers give less reading support to high school students at the very time when their textbooks become more sophisticated, complex, and in depth. Pressley (2004), Irvin et al. (2007), and Jetton and Dole (2004) noted the difficult readability of many high school t extbooks. Other researchers found a cultural dissonance between high school students and their textbooks (Armbruster & Osborn, 2002; Biancarosa & Snow 200 6 ; Hinchm an, Alvermann, Boyd, Brozo, & Vacca, 2004). In addition, d ifficulties with reading have been linked to apathy toward school and classes as well as frustration that can lead to disru ptive behavior and out (Alvermann, 2004; Biancarosa & Sn ow, 200 6 ; Carnegie Corporation 2009). T here continues to be a reading proficiency deficit between w hite students and minorities, those wi th high versus low socioeconomic status and English language learners versus native English speaking students (Hinchm an et al., 2004 ; Phillips, 2005 ). Afflerbach (2008) described the importance of reading success in high school: Failure in reading contributes to low self esteem and p oor self concept which lead to decre ased motivation avoidance of reading which lea ds to fewer opportunities for students to practice their reading or to make the determination that some forms of reading are good. Struggling adolescent readers, in effect, must unlearn some of the lessons of their prior schooling: that reading is boring an exercise in futility. [and] neve r worth the effort. They must learn that although many of their prior efforts to read were not rewarded, this state of affairs is not necessarily permanent (p. 6) Exacerbating the problem is that many high scho ol students are not motivated to read, and the curriculum does not e ngage them not engaged or motivated by their school experiences grows at every grade level and & Snow, 200 6 p. 9). This lack of engagement and motivation could explain why students who show proficiency in
24 reading and writing during the earlier grades fail to continue to make progress in hig h school. Notably 60% of high school seniors read below g rade level (Biancarosa & Snow, 200 6 ). Further among hig h school graduates, 32% are in sufficiently prepared to handle the reading demands of college coursework. As a result, c o mmunity colleges and four year institutions find it necessary to offer remedial reading and writing courses for students whose reading skills are deficient (Biancarosa et al., 2007; Carnegie Corporation 2009). Torgesen, Houston, and Rissman (2007) stated their goals for a high school reading program to : (a ) improve the overall level s of reading proficiency, (b ) ensure that all students make at least expected yearly growth in readin g ability each school year, and (c ) to leave high school as proficient reader s those who enter as struggling readers must therefore need intensive, dynamic instructio n to close the gap between them and more proficient readers. Carnine and Grossen (2007) explained the challenges of high s chool reading programs. They noted that turning struggling readers into proficient readers takes much more effort than it ta kes to te ach a beginner to read; however, they believe that this is achievable. Helping each student to acquire the skills to read is the most important function of education
25 ggling readers into proficient ones (Carnine & Grossen, 2007, p. 200). Clearly, h igh school administr ators in Florida need to make reading achievement a priority when developing their instructional programs In Florida, secondary school students are deeme Comprehen sive Achievement Test (FCAT) and, in response, are put into intensive reading classes. However, even those students who tested at Level 3 or higher may need instructional suppo rt to st rengthen their reading skills and to ensure that they are able to read increasingly difficult texts. To accomplish this, content area teachers need to know research based reading strategies and infuse them into their subject area instruction (Florida Depar tment of Education, 2005a). This embedded method requires teachers to explicitly teach their students about reading strategies that aid in decoding and then require st (Hock & Deshler, 2003, p. 53). NASSP (2001) contend ed teachers to help their students become more proficient in th is fundamental skil rincipals can help by providing resources and time for teachers to build their skills, discuss what works, and collaborate in a schoolwide effort Reading re search has shown that content area teachers need to be involved in the schoolwide reading improvement effort (Allington, 200 5a ; Carnegie Corporation 2009; Deshler, Schumaker, & Woodruff, 2004; F lorida Department of E d ucation 2005a; Hock & Deshler, 2003;
26 NASSP, 2001; Parris & Block, 2007; Stevens & Bean, 2003; Torgesen et al., 2007; Tovani, 2000 2004). Further, there needs to be consistency between how reading teachers and how the content area teachers use reading strategies within their clas srooms. Torgesen et al. (2007) stated: While it is clear that content area teachers cannot be expected to teach struggling readers basic reading skills, they can teach strategies, use appropriate instructional routines, lead and facilitate discussions, ra ise standards, and create engaging learning environments that help students improve t heir ability to comprehend text. (p. 11) In keeping with this, t he Florida Department of Education (2005a) stated, Content area teachers must be taught and encouraged t o provide instruction and reinforcement in the incorporating research based practices into subject area instruction, content area teachers can help students achieve the high est level of literacy and provide them with the opportunity to apply their reading skills in authentic ways that will carry over from their intensive reading classes into their academic and pleasure read ing (Armbruster & Osborn, 2002 ; Irvin et al. 2007; S tevens & Bean, 2003). Unfortunately, many high school content area teachers resist integrating reading strategies into their lessons (Alger, 2007; Bean, 2008; Deshler et al., 2004; Irvin et al. 2007; Lenski & Lewis, 2008; Torgesen et al., 2007; Tovani, 2 004; Vogt & Shearer, 2003). Factors which contribute to this resistance include h lack of pre service exposure to instructional methods in reading, the high number of students whom they see daily, and reading coaches who may not be attu ned to the demands o f different subject areas (Bean, 2008). A dditionally the demand placed on subject area teachers to cover large amounts of content often leaves little time for them to teach
27 literacy skills (Deshler et al. 200 7 ). Staff development, tea cher leaders who model positive behaviors, and providing teacher support can go a long way toward overcoming these attitudes (Deshler et al. 2007; Irvin et al. 2007; Vogt & Shearer, 2003). School administrators can encourage cooperation among content ar ea teachers by helping them learn how to successfully incorporate literacy strategies into their lessons. With support et al. 2007, p. 193). However, school leaders must ensure that staff development is relevant and cohesive. Staff development often consists of unrelated workshops with no follow up and no opportunities for teachers to implement what was learned or to practice their new skills (NASSP, 2 001; Zepeda, 2008). NASSP recommended that principals ensure that content area instructors have plenty of time and support to incorporate reading strategies after e ach staff development session. Zepeda advocated job embedded learning so th at teachers can integrate newly learned techniques into their everyday practice. In this way modifications based on the experience, the talk, and the action o T h e entire cu lture of the school can be transformed when teachers s ee that pr ofessional development is responsive to their daily needs rather than presenting an additional duty. The Importance of School Leaders in Secondary Reading Programs Secondary school leaders mus t demonstrate the importance of reading achievement to other school leaders, teachers, students and parents. success of the entire school. The principal needs to est ablish effective communication
28 lorida Department of Education 2002, p. 7). Alt hough the re is little research on how principal behavior affects student achievement, it is clear that the principal sets the overall educational tone of the school (Hallinger, Bickman, & Davis, 1996). The effect of high school principals however, is difficult to quantify. The effect of elementary school principals is easier to measure than that of high school principals because elementary school principals have more direct contact with the stu dents in their schools. An effective principal might have a relatively greater effect in an elementary school, but only because there is less competition from other potential leaders, and the effects are more quickly seen there because elementary schools are usually small er. Nevertheless, leadership w hether embodied in the principal, an administrative team of principals, or a corps of department heads has a big impact on student success (S hanahan, 2006, p. 45) suggested what principals should be doin g The council concluded that principals who want to promote literacy within their schools should : Be seen leading and challenging staff and students to grow Provide resources, both material and human Demonstrate a commitment to literacy Visit classrooms, looking for reading instruction Create release time for teachers and teams of teachers Facilitate collegial decision making Attend staff development sessions with staff Incorporate staff development into faculty meetings Create schedules for uninterrupted literacy instruction
29 classrooms Maintain communication with reading coaches Principals are responsible for staff development within their schools and are charged with ensuring that teachers are provided with the latest r esearch based reading practice s as part of this staff development (Carnegie Corporation 2009 ; Carn ine & Grossen, 2008; Florida Department of Education 2002; Phillips, 2005; Shanahan, 2004; Torgesen et al. 2007). In this regard, the Florida Reading Pro gram Specifications state: The k nowledge base of the administration within a school and district is vital to its effectiveness Florida administrators need to attain basic knowledge of scientifically based reading research that functions as the foundation for instruction. They m ust attain an understanding of the essential reading components, the reading process, and a variety of instructional assessments to effectively allocate resources for reading. (Florida Department of Education, 2002, p. 7) To ensure that the most rele vant staff development is made available, the principa l must work with the faculty to professional development decisions, and be well informed about c urrent reading research. The principal must Further, the principal must update his or her knowledge of the latest developments in educational research and collaborate with t he faculty in incorporating best practices into instruction (Carnine & Grossen, 2008; F lorida Department of Education 2002; Hallinger et al. 1995; Irvin et al. 2007; Mullen & Hutinger, 2008). Principal participation is a key component to a successful r eading staff development initiative (Irvin et al., 2007; Torgesen et al., 2007; Zepeda, 2008). Moreover, after training is completed the principa l and other leaders must follow up by
30 visiting classrooms and helping teachers incorporate the new read ing str ategies into instruction ( Florida Department of Education, 2002; Torgesen et al., 2007 ; Zepeda, 2008 ). As Zepeda, (2008) advised, rather the beginning of the journey toward learning p. 61). Som e administrat ors use evaluation instruments to assess how well teachers are infusing strategies learned in professional development sessions into their lessons Just Read, Florida! (F lorida Department of Education 2005 a) 12: Content 12: Reading Intervention checklists to assist administrators to evaluate reading instruction during their classroom visits. These chec klists include a list of what literacy practices to lo ok for when observing lessons, such as research based reading strategies, instructional materials, and student grouping. Principals, assistant principals and others who evaluate teacher instruction can do their part by encouraging teachers to incorporate reading strategies into their instruction (Shanahan, 2004). By helping teachers identify areas in which to improve and by providing resources, follow up training, and peer support, evaluators can assist teachers to infuse best practices into their instruct ion. Administrators must show by their words, attitudes, and actions that reading is a schoolwide priority (Carnegie Corporation 2009; Florida Department of Education, 2002; Irvin et al., 2007; & White, 200 5 ; Phillips, 2005). By demonstrating th ese and other behaviors, principals can ultimately
31 Torgesen et al. (2007) presented three no tions that secondary school principals should keep in mind wh en developing a reading instructional program for at risk readers. First, past rea ding interventions were not effective enough for the students to stay on grade level. Second these students typi cally have negative attitudes about reading and do not read often. Third struggling readers are a diverse group and the reasons for their lack of reading progress are varied. Therefore, principals should design an intensive reading program for those not reading on grade level that is more engaging and supportive than previous programs (Biancarosa et al., 2007; Fisher et al., 2008; Torgesen et al., 2007). When developing reading intervention programs instruction needs to meet the needs of students at diff et al. 2008, p. 148). Principals must involve and empower teachers in a professional development process of learning how to infuse scientifically based reading strategies One way many principals are accomplishi ng this is through professional learning communitie s (P LCs). Through P LCs principals foster learning environments in which professionals strive for improvement and increased self efficacy. To promote teacher collab oration, these communities must be spearheaded and scaffolded by the principal (Carnegie Corporation 2009; Florida Department of Education 2002; Mullen & Hutinger, 2008; Ze peda, 2008). Principals should work with teachers to develop a school reading miss ion Further, leaders should articulate the expectation that all students can read ( Florida Department of Education 2002) as they participate in the school P LC, providing collegial support, and promoting continuous reflection and inquiry (Zepeda, 2008).
32 W ith the input of the faculty, to prioritize professional development and to ensure that teachers receive training opportunities to improve teaching and learning at the school. Principals must be knowledgeable about the latest re search and learn alongside teachers or ahead of them so they can determine which professional learning activities are most appropriate and valuable for their school (Fisher et al., 2007; Florida Department of Education 2002; Mullen & Hutinger, 2008; Phill ips, 2005). By becoming experts on current research based instructional literature and strategies, principals ensure that teachers have access to the most up to date practices ( Florida Department of Education 2002). Principals or their designees s hould be capable of interpreting and communicating data, identify ing and obtain ing scie ntific based curricula, providing relevant staff development exper iences, allocating time and resources to raise the reading performance of students who are performing below gra de level, implement ing a schoolwide positive behavior support system, and monitor ing student progress (Biancarosa & Snow 200 6 ; Carnegie Corporation 2009; Carnine & Grossen, 2008). Unfortunately, some principals equate raising school achievement to drill ing students in standardized test like exercises rather than utilizing research based practices to guide instruction (Shanahan, 2006). To avoid the practice of drilling students principals must know the demands of tests such as the FCAT and the research b ased practices that lead to improving reading skills as well as have the ders (Hoy & Miskel, 2008 ). Shanahan (2006) noted that some principals concentrate on test results so intensely that the result is skill and drill rather than quality reading instruction. Shanahan
33 recommended that principals familiarize themselves with the work of NRP to avoid this pitfall. The principal must be involved in all stages of the reading program including s taff development sessions. When principals are actively participating, t eachers will see their commitm ent and this is likely to foster teacher teamwork and confidence in the R esearchers recommend that teacher involvement in staff development planning, frequent classroom visitations, and a leadership commitment to funding the purchase of high quality materials also will enhance high school reading programs (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006 ; Carnine & Grossen, 2008; Hock & Deshler, 2 Shanahan, 2004; Torgesen et al., 2007). Principals dedicated to enhancing reading programs and who are familiar with the latest literacy literature are generally able to motivat e their fac ulties to do the same Besides actively leading instructional development, the principal must foster dialogue among all faculty members (Blase & Blase, 2004; Florida Department of Education 2002; Hoy & Hoy, 2006; Phillips, 2005). Further, l iteracy leader s must convey a comprehensive vision to teac hers as well as to students. That vision should express confidence that all students can be successful readers Equally important are demonstrating that this belief is crucial to the success of the literacy program (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006 ; Shanahan, 2004). Currently there is no reading requirement in Florida principal preparation pro grams, and r esearch o n high school reading programs is scarce. Until this is remedied principals need to iden tify secondary schools that have successful reading
34 programs as a means to see what works (Hock & Deshler, 2003; Parris & Block, 2007). Current practices that are successful in improving high school literacy skills throughout the country should be recogniz ed so that other high schools may emulate them. In this regard, Hock and D es hler (2003) present three recommendation s First, demonstration sites that showcase the programs and practices that produce significant outcomes for struggling high school readers should be established. Second, professional development programs that teach administrators and teachers how to implement scientifically based practices should be established. Third, college teacher preparation and perhaps principal training programs should include increased attention to reading instruction include staffing, scheduling, and budgeting. To ensure that the school has appropriate staffing, principals must take literacy qualifications into cons ider ation (Carnegie Corporation 2009; Shanahan, 2004; Torgesen et al., 2007). For example, one of the most important hires that a principal can skills, good ra pport with th e teaching staff, the ability to analyze data as a means to make instructional decisions, familiarity with a variety of materials, and both literacy and subject area knowledge (Roller, 2008). In Florida in particular pri ncipals should look for candidates w ho either have the Florida Reading Endorsement or who participate in Just Content Area Reading Professional Development (CAR PD ) program ( Florida Department of Education 2005a). Working together the principal and the school lite racy le adership team need to craft the sc
35 instructional needs. P rincipals must plan for after school tutoring sessions, summer programs and other interventions such as book clubs or reading activit ies during lunchtime (Carnegie Corporation 2005; Torgesen et al., 2007). Principals also must designate enough of the budget to purchase appropriate literacy materials (Armbruster & Osborn, 2002; Biancaro sa & Snow, 2006 ; Carnegie Corporation 2009; Florida Department of Education 2002; International Reading Association, 2002; Radencich et al., 1993; Stevens & Bean, 2003; Vogt & Shearer, 2003). According to the Florida Department of Education (2002) : To e nsure positive reading outcomes, school and district administrators must provide funding and other resources required for an effective reading program to equip the teachers with both the knowledge and the resources to deliver reading instruction that effec tively bui lds the reading process for all. ( p. 8) Purchases must include more than just basal readers. Making q uality, high interest fiction and non fiction available for intensive reading and content area classrooms at multipl e reading levels can help st udents read with confidence and without frustration. Care must be taken to choose materials from a wide array of interests and cultures (International Reading Association, 2002; Radencich et al., 1992; Smith & Wilhelm, 2002). To supplement reading instruct ion, c omputer prog rams can be purchased A wide variety of commercial reading intervention programs are available such as Read 180 (a computer based reading program) and TeenBiz 3000. Content area teachers also need supplemental literacy materials such as trade books to meet the demands of their subject (Armbruster & Osborn, 2002; Florida Department of Education 2005b ; s must ensure the availability of materials for the sch ry that will assist teachers in infusing reading
36 strategies into t heir instruction and aid professional study groups, book circles and other staff development activities (Torgesen et al. 2007). To improve the high school literacy program principals nee d to recognize the (Carnine & Grossen, 2008, p. 199). School literacy leaders need t o acknowledge accomplishments and celebrate achievemen t in order to build upon success and foster continued improvement. W hen school leaders know the connection between research b ased practices, achievement and motivation they can support the necessary changes to make their schools centers for literacy and learning (Irvin et al., 2007). As Phillips (2005) state d order to accomplish the ultimate goal i ncreased student achievement through Recommendations for Secondary Reading Programs Much of the literature supports the formation of high school l ite racy leadership t eams (Cobb, 20 05; Irvin et al., 2007; Phillips, 2005; Ontario Pr Torgesen et al., 2007; Vogt & Shearer, 2003). These teams can become a mechanism for the principal both to model literacy leadership and empower teachers to become leaders in a schoolwide reading movement. A leadership literacy tea m should consist of the reading coach and a representative from each department, each grade level, the media center, and any other professional stakeholders at the school, including the esen et al., 2007, p. 9).
37 Although the formation of a literacy team must be a collaborative effort between administrators and teachers, and classroom teachers must feel empowered to take leadership roles within the literacy team, ultimately it is the prin cipal who has the most impact on the S chools with dynamic literacy teams led by strong instructional leaders have a positive effect (Phillips, 2005) Even if the principal designates a curriculum specialis t or reading coach to have the daily responsibility of the literacy team, the principal sets the tone and conveys that the team should analyze data and input from teach ers in regard to instructional needs relative to the test data and formulate a staff development plan, based on research based methods, to meet those needs. Once teacher leaders buy into the idea of a literacy initiative, they can encourage other faculty m embers to embrace the goals of the literacy leadership team and make changes that will contribute to the schoolwide effort (Irvin et al., 2007). Under the the literacy leadership team should share professional know ledge w ith faculty, examine the school schedule ensure that enough plan staff developm ent activities, consider interventions for at risk students, share successful practices with other schools, and review and interpret achievement data (Irvin et al., 2003). M any students who read below grade level do not have a clear idea of what the words
38 or reading very fast, and they do not realize that the very core of reading is deriving meaning from the text. Principals and other literacy leaders need to emphasize to their struggli ng readers that reading needs to be viewed as an active transaction of meaning between the author and the reader, not a passive activity as many teenagers who are reading below grade level believe (Tovani, 2000, 2004; Wilhelm, 2008). Sturtevant et al. (2 006 ) identified eight principles that support reading improvement. Adolescents should be provided with opportunities to: Participate in active learning environments that offer clear and facilitative literacy instruction. Participate in respectful environme nts characterized by high expectations, trust and care. Engage with print and non print texts for a variety of purposes. Generate and express rich understandings of ideas and concepts. This princip le of adolescent literacy focuses on the importance of read ing as a social activity. Demonstrate enthusiasm for reading and learning in order to become actively engaged. Assess their own literacy and learning competencies and direct their future growth. Connect reading with their life and their learning inside and outside of school. Develop critical perspectives towar d what they read, view and hear (p. 142) chool leaders provide the guidance that is The literacy team leader should communicate regularly with the faculty in regard to the status of the reading initiative, participate in reading staff development sessions with the faculty, regularly review data to revise their professional development pl an, talk with the staff often about concerns and successes with literacy practices, and continuously
39 update knowledge on reading research (Blase & Blase, 2004; Carnine & Grossen, Summary Mo st of the research on reading instruction for struggling students focuses on the primary grades. There is scarce reading research that concerns secondary students. Further as department heads, and reading coaches) have not received as much attention as the classroom reading teachers Given that high school principals are held responsible for reading achievement at their schools, an examination of their perceptions an d knowledge of and involvement in their school needed Strong leadership is indispensable to proper staff development, scheduling, budgeting and a receptive school cult ure Reading instruction for struggling adolescents requires spe cialized programs. Thus, principals must develop programs who are proficient but w ho need continuous growth to keep up with the demands of higher education or employment. For this to happen, principals must increase thei r own understanding of research based reading instruction They also must empower teachers to take ownership of the sc hool w ide goal of reading improvement and develop ways to ensure that content area teachers incorporate reading strategies into their instruction. One way to accomplish this is through a literacy leadership team hould actively participate in and l iteracy
40 l eadership team is the ability to interpret data, to make reading a priority when bui lding the school schedule, and to provide e nrichment s uch as book clubs. Communicating with the entire facult y and articulating a clear mission are other responsibilities of the literacy leadership team. Finally, s econdary school leaders must familiarize themselves with the existing adolescent read ing research and follow new developments in scientific ally based practices so that they can provide students with the high quality educational experience that they deserve
41 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of how hi gh school leaders promote the reading programs in their schools, the factors that facilitate or impede the infusion of research based reading strategies, and how leaders hold teachers accountable for the infusion of the se strategi es. The research examined how the leadership teams at two different high schools in the same district o versee their reading programs. Using qualitative inquiry, specifically individual intervi ews and focus groups, th e following research questions were addr essed : 1. How does the school leadership (principal or designee, reading coach, department chairs) promote the use of research based reading strategies across the school curriculum? 2. What factors facilitate and/or impede the infusion of research based reading strategies into instruction at the school? 3. How does the school leadership hold teachers accountable for infusing research based reading strategies into their instruction? Setting Th e setting of this study was Swan County Schools a small district in north east Florida comprised of only two high schools The researcher sought to d etermine school through their participation in individual interviews and focus groups One of the sites Fremantle High Schoo l (a pseudonym) has an enrollment of 2,343 students comprised of 63% White, 21% Bl ack, 8% Hispanic, 2% Asian, 0.3% American Indian and 5% multiracial students. Of the students 58% are categorized as economically disadvantaged and 1.7% are English Lang uage Learners The graduation
42 rate, excl uding special diploma students, is 80%. The school has been open for 35 years. Maylands High School (a pseudonym) is located in a more affluent area of the district and opened six years ago. Student enrollment is 1,4 85 and the population is comprised of 70% White, 12% B lack, 10% Hispanic, 4% Asian, 0 .3% American Indian, and 4% multiracial students. Of the students, 40% are categorized as econo mically disadvantaged, and 1.3% are English Language Lea rners The graduati on rate, exclu ding special diploma recipients, is 80%. According to the Flori da Department of Education (2011 ) Fremantle High School rom the state in 2008 2009, 2010 and maintained 2011 sch ool year The most recent FCAT data show that 48% High Standards in Reading and 51% of the students made gains in reading while 42 % of the lowest quartile students m ade gains Maylands High School was r at ed a 2009 school for the 2009 2010 and 2010 2011 school year s Of the students 52% were FCAT and 52% of all students showed improvement in reading Of those i n the lowest quartile the previous year, 40% showed improvement Participants Fremantle High School and Maylands High School principals were contacted by the researcher and agreed to par ticipate in this study. These principals s erved as gatekeepers who rec ommended other adm inistrators and teacher leaders as study participants
43 The criteria for inclusion in this purposeful sample of ed ucators were ( a) membership on the school leadership team or identification as a or ( b) i nvolvement in the school reading program, and ( c) a minimum of 40 hours of researched based reading trainin g in the past three years. All educators contacted by the researcher agreed to be interviewed. Four individu al interviews were conducted at Fremantl e High School and an additional interview conducted via telephone A follow up focus group interview included four of the five original interviewees (Participant 9 was unable to attend the focus group interview). The demogra phic information for Fremantle H igh participants appears in Table 3 1. Table 3 1. Fremantle High School participants Participant Age Gender Years in education/ Years in current position Current Job/Position Degree(s) held Approximate hours of research based reading training in pa st 3 years 1 30 F 9/6 Reading Coach B.S. English Education M.S. Reading 300 2 47 F 23/1 for Curriculum B.S. Elementary Ed. M.S. Ed. Leadership 120 3 37 M 12/2 Principal B.S. Elementary Ed. M.Ed. Leadership 40 4 27 F 6/6 Reading teache r BS Except. Student Ed. M.S. Except. Student Ed. 100 9 53 F 26/6 CAR PD History teacher B.A. Elementary Ed. M.A. Secondary Social Sciences 60 Average (rounded to nearest whole number) 39 15/4 124 Three individual interviews were conducted at M aylands High School, and an additional interview was conducted via telephone. A ll four Maylands participants
44 present at the follow up focus group interview at the school The demographic information for Maylands High participants appears in Table 3 2. Ta ble 3 2. Maylands High School participants Participant Age Gender Years in education/ Years in current position Current Job/Position Degree(s) held Approximate hours of research based reading training in past 3 years 5 51 M 20/6 Princ ipal B.A. Biology; M.A. Education; Ed.S. Ed. Leadership; Ph.D. Education 40 6 45 F 20/5 Reading Coach B.A. English M.S. Juridical Studies 146 7 56 F 34/6 for Curriculum M.S. English; M.A. Political Science, Ed.S. Leadership 150 8 27 F 5/5 English CAR PD teacher B.A. English M.A. Secondary Education 60 Average (rounded to nearest whole number ) 45 20/6 99 Methods Q ualitative research was best suited for th e goal of this study. S chool principals, assistant principals, read ing coac hes and teacher leaders were individually interviewed and focus groups were used to gather more in depth information and clarification The focus groups also served the purpose of member checking. Throughout the interview and analysis process the resear cher kept a reflective journal, m aking note of questions that emerged during the process recording suggestions, writing memos for follow up and noting other thoughts relevant to the study. Qualitative Research Qualitative research, also referred to as natura listic inquiry, emphasizes the central role stress[es] the setting or context in which the
45 participants expressed the views, and highlight[s] the meaning people personally hold p. 43). C haracteristics of qualitative research include data that consists of words to describe experiences asking of open ended questions and collecting data in plac es where people live and work. Rather than the random sampling and random assignment techniques used by quantitative researchers, purposeful sampling, a method choosing people who can best help them understand the phenomeno n was used for this study (Patton, 2002; Rubin & Rubin, 200 4 ). Generally, qualitative researchers collect in depth information from a small number of in dividuals or sites Data analysis consists of the determination of codes and categories, followed by the development of themes that are later interpreted in relations hip to the central phenomenon that is being studied (Creswell, 2005). Qualitative Interviews In qualitative interviews, the researchers collect data through general and emergent questions and probes that encourage the participants to gen erate responses. S uch interviews have been described the researcher slowly introduces new elements to elicit information. Rubin and Rubin (200 4 ) use d the metaphor of night vision goggles t o describe these interviews and cla im that this process allow s resea rchers to examine things that are usually impercepti ble and might otherwise be overlooked. T he researcher becomes the instrument through which nuanced accounts of the int erviewee s world are elicited. During the interview, the researcher encourages the interviewee to give r ich, detailed descriptions and to explain as thoroughly as possible all aspects of the phenomenon that is being examined. Having elicited these response s, the interview er formulates t he implicit message,
46 send [s] it back to the subject, and obtain [s] an immediate confirmation or Brinkman, 2009, p. 30). A careful balance between congeniality and structure must be maintained s o that the interview does not feel like a formal interrogation and rappo rt with the interviewee(s) is maintained Because the interview needs purpose a nd a direction, the interviewer els that lead to to draw out richer responses and to allow the interviewee to elaborate on the kind of information desired by the interviewer (Creswell, 2005; Glesne, 2006; Rubin & Rubin, 2004 ; Spradley, 1979). Pilot testing the interview protocol and, as needed, revising the questions helps to elicit information that focuses on the topic Focus Groups According to Creswell (2005), focus groups are useful when int eraction among the interviewees will elicit in depth information. Patton (2002) noted that the focus group is an interview, not a discussion, a deci sion making group, or a problem solving session. Focus group interviews involve open ended questions asked o f a group of five to eight people who get to : their original responses as they hear what the other people have to say The object is to get high quality data in a social context where people can consider their own views in the context of the views of others ( p. 343) F ocus groups provide a more comfortable and natural environment than do individual interviews because, just as in real life, the participants are reacting to what others have to say as well as having their own comments reacted to (Krueger & Casey, 2000).
47 Focus groups allow for efficiency, the saving of time concentrating on the most important issues in the program, and hearing T he grou p setting also provides an opportunity to conduct member checking. The d isadvantages of focus groups as compared to an individual interview, include less time with each participant, fewer questions asked and the challenges of group management, kee ping control of the interview, scheduling interviewees to meet at the same time, and observing and keeping notes when so many people are involved (Krueger & Casey, 2000; Patton, 2002). Analysis The researcher analyzed interview transcripts through a coding process in which the researcher developed categories and themes and interpreted them in relation to each other and to the research questions. The results produced rich, t hick descriptions of the phenomenon (Creswell, 2005). Qualitative researchers sometim e s unintentionally bring their own experiences into the interpretation and conclusions The personal, reflexive nature of qualitative r esearch raises the concern that bias and subjectivity will obscure the truth. However, as Patton (2002 ) for TRUTH suggests a single right answer. Qualitative methods, however, assume multiple perspectives and multiple truths depending on different points of view Numbers do not protect Glesn e (2006) recommended keeping a reflective field log and/or writing coding memos during the interviewing process as a means to continuously focus and develop the study. By developing tentative codes or categories researchers become familiar not only with w hat they are finding but also with what they are missing (Glesne, 2006).
48 Procedures A purposeful sampling of school le aders involved in their reading programs was used, and participants were chosen to provide information about the reading practices of t he school (Patto n, 2002; Rubin & Rubin, 200 4 ). Those who agre ed to be interviewed were asked to complete a demographic information questionnaire via e mail. Initially the interview schedule was submitted to the doctoral dissertation committee and their c hanges were incorpor ated into the final questions. Next the interview questions were pilot tested with educators in similar positions to those of the study participants. The interview questions were framed in such a way as to offset any preconceptions and were checked by the pilot group participants to ensure that they were not leading t he interviewees to answer in a particular way. The University of Florida Institutional Review Board approved the interview protocol ( Appendix A ). Informed c onsent form s wer e signed by each of the nine participants (Appendix B) with each interview lasting approximately 45 minutes. During the analysis process it b ecame apparent that interviews wi th teachers participating in the Content Area Reading Professional Development (CAR PD) program would be beneficial and two more interviews via telephone were conducted with a CAR PD teacher from each school. Five post interview e mails were sent to variou s participants for clarification All interviews were recorded using a digital voice recorder Approximately 7.75 hours of recordings were transcribed, yielding 1 28 pages of transcripts. The transcripts of each interview were sent to each interviewee to c heck for accuracy and to provide for the opportunity for additions, clarifications and/or corrections. The voice recordings,
49 transcribed interv iews and code sheets were maintained in a secure location to protect the p rivacy of each participant After co ding each interview, the researcher coded the transcripts for each school for overlapping themes and categories. A taxonomy for each school was developed to depict how themes related to the research questions All of the data were presented to a peer debri efer, a nother doctoral candidate at the University of Florida who was trai ned in qualitative techniques. After scrutinizing the data, t he peer debriefer concurred with the emergent themes developed by the researcher. The taxonomies were presented to the pa rticipants at focus group interviews conduct ed at each school approximately seven months after the initial interviews took plac e. These focus groups consisted of the original interviewees and served as an opportunity for participants to comment on the them es that emerged from the interviews and served as a form of member checking Additional questions that emerged during the analysis also were asked at the focus group meeting s (Appendix C ) Each of the two focus group interview s lasted approximately 45 min u tes. Focus group session s were recorded and transcribed by the researcher. T ranscript s were sent to participants to provide them with the opportunity to clarify or amend the ir responses Using the taxonomies developed, the researcher prepared the research report, which contained a description of the themes that emerged from the data, their relationship to one another and their relationship to the leade reading programs. To ensure the confidentiality of all participants the research er used pseudonyms for the names of the district, schools, and all educators quoted in this research.
50 Researcher Bias Qualitative research is presented through the lens of the researcher; therefore, qualitative researchers must be mindful of their own pr edisp ositions or biases Rubin and Rubin (200 4 ) rep orted that personal bias can cause researchers to distort what they are hearing. For example, researchers may not follow up on leads that are dissimilar to their preconceptions, thereby missing out on deta ils and nuances that might provide 200 4 ). Self monitoring can limit interpre tation of the findings. Toward this end, resear chers often use memoing. In this study the researcher used memoing and a reflective journal to less en her preconceived programs as well as to continually check on the credi bility, plausibility and trustworthiness of the emergent findings. Additionally because the researcher is a conduit for wa s essential that she describe her authority and expertise to conduct the study and her positionality relati ve to the inquiry. With reference to authority and e xpertise, the researcher was trained in qualitative research methods while earning her specialist and doctoral degrees at the University of Florida. To help ensure neutrality, the researcher chose to do h er research in a district and in schools with which she is unfamiliar. I n a high school history teacher. She work s in a district and a school that is much larger than the district and schools in this study In addi tion to teaching history, the researcher hold s ree in reading e ducation and serve s as a reading specialist, responsi ble for helping social studies teachers integrate research based reading stra tegies into their lessons. In this capac ity,
51 the researcher has worked with a number of teachers who we re eager to learn and employ reading strategies as well as those who resist ed doing so. In addition, the researcher participate d in Just Read, Florida s CAR PD progra m. Tenth grade students wh o the history classes for extra reading monitoring and supp ort. The researcher has observed that, although school leaders want to impro ve the reading program, they generall y do not actively contribute to the process. Instead they tend to rely on the reading and English t eachers and the reading coach. Alt hough training in reading strategies is provided, there is very little accountability to ensure that teachers a re implemen ting training into practice. nterest in this study developed training in reading instruction in Florida principal preparation programs) might hinder improv ement in high school reading programs or what enhancements (such as classroom observations and observation instruments geared tow ard reading instruction) might foster improvement in high school reading programs. goal was to discover the exten t to which leaders are responsible for involving themselves in the reading program of their schools, to illuminate the ways that successful principals become active literacy leaders, and to shed light on any gaps in the leadership chain from principal to assistant principal to reading coach to classroom teacher as well as, of course to the students.
52 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS This chapter presents the findings that emerged from individual and focus group interviews at the two schools studied. Quotes taken from the interview protocols are used to support the results and are identified numerically as interview number/page/line; e.g ., 4/17/34 indicates i nterview 4/p age 17/l ine 34 Fremantle High School Research Questi on 1: How does the school leadership promote the use of research based reading strategies across the school curriculum? The actions executed by the Fremantle High School (FHS) leadership team were influenced by their beliefs, the ir reaction to a poor grade from the state, and data driven decisions. Each of these areas is discussed below. Leadership b eliefs I nterviews revealed that leadership beliefs as well as background, played a fundamental role in their actions to improve the re ading program. Previously, Greg Alleto, the principal at FHS was an elementary school teacher and pr incipal w ith extensive experience in readi ng e ducation. assist ant principal for curriculum another participant, previously served as the distri reading contact person T he FHS leadership team seemed well pr epared to provide literacy leadership. Mr. Alleto is a strong proponent of professional collaboration. As stated in his you can do nterview 3/5/5). He also has a positive view of his faculty and of their commitment to excellence in education. He hold s high expectations of on, as evidenced by the following
53 teacher ; is you have to have c redibility with the teachers. S not talking about what we that the school leadership team has to be a visible force and has to model the collaborative and instru ctional behaviors that he Interviews with teachers indicated that Mr. Alleto puts his beliefs into action One teacher stated: If you ask any teacher whether or not the administrators are informed in that they know what it mea ns to be a good teacher and [that] readi ng strategies [are] key. If we had somebody who was in charge of just the administrators have a good focus and have a vision of where we want to go with the school I think tha t eve ryone else does a good job. (Interview 1/10/10) that [re ading strategies] are important (Interview 4/8/5). Clearly, the FHS leadership has demonstrated to the fac ulty that reading improvement is a priority at the school. rade from the st ate Mr. Alleto was brought to FHS by the district in response to a state, in part because he successfully led a PLC initiative at the elementary sch ool for
54 which he was previously principal. Th e district expected him to recreate this success at FHS. Upon his tenure at FHS, Mr. Alleto piloted a PLC gr language a Interview 3/3/25). His goal for FHS teachers was for them to engage in a collaborative examination of the data, make decisions and set goals for reading improvement based on what the data revealed. As co me in and tell [teachers] what to do, come in w e did the team building piece first a nd lay the data out to Data based d ecisions The interview ees frequently referred to data based decision making. An examination of the school data al lowed teachers to analyze reading needs and in turn focus on th e strategies that would best serve th eir needs. For example, when the language a rts teachers analyzed data from reading assessments, they observed an area of weakness was summarizing strategie s Accordingly, the PLC group developed lesson s that included research based summarizing strategies and common assessments that would serve as pro gress monitoring tools. After these lessons and common assessments were implemented, the PLC met again to reexamine the data and to reassess their action pl an This teacher based approach was apparent throughout all the interv iews. Mr. Alleto, a strong advocate of his faculty, stated :
55 The magic of a powerful teach er in front of a room is awesome and we have teachers here that are at such a different level that I just sit there and watch them in amazement That the hard part to figure out. (Interview 3/7/15) H is faith in t he FHS educato rs evidenced his belief that, once armed with the necessar y information, the teachers would employ shared decision making to improve reading performance at the school, both in reading intervention classes and in content area classes. This yea r we were able to bring into play our Professional Learning Communities where we met on a regular basis with our content area ; and it gave [the faculty] protected time to come together and we would look at student data, we would look at p rofession al practices. [The faculty ] began to focus on those cont ent classes. (Interview 2/3/44) The PLCs examined not only th e data provided from FCAT and other state assessments but also generated their own data by developing common assessments in each discipline and analyzing the trend s revealed from the results of these assessments The reading coach and lead ership team membe rs circulate d in each PLC group to provide expertise, guidance and encouragement. Evidence of the role of data decision making was apparent. The walls of we re covered with poste rs and graphs that present ed the data o n reading components, e.g ., comprehension and vocabulary, broken down by departments. The interview ees shar ed that the PLCs were extremely successfu l. Every pa rticipant made reference to PLCs as the most important means by which readi ng strategies were reinforc ed. After the pilot year, t which consisted of only the language a rts teachers, was expanded to include several PLCs in
56 subject area departments such as social studi es, science, and foreign language Instead of encountering resistance to the new program, the reverse seemed to be true. Departments that were not yet designated for PLCs b A response from the assistant principal for curricu lum was typical: We started with a pilot group of language a rts and we focused it on the freshman and sophomore teachers because Fremantle High was coming o o we were performing triage! And we got such huge results out of th at and [the faculty] was so excited about it that we expanded it to th ree other departments this year (Interview 2/8/45) A teacher stated so you can see the culture change in the schoo l for professional development excited a Mr. Alleto stated: It was kind of interesting because I have other teachers now saying Hey, when is it going to be our turn to meet and plan? We want to be a par t of this. that core and bloomed out to where teachers are asking for it because they see the power of it and their colleagues are talking about it and how much better it is (Inte rview 3/5/35) Another example o f the FHS leadership team responding to data occurred when test results revealed the underperformance of African American male students. A s part of their literacy team activities, t he med ia specialist and r eading coach instit uted designated funds to purchase novels that would appeal to young black males, and also provided lunches for all participants Business leaders from the local African American community were invited to share in lunch with the students and discuss the books. All interviewees reported the popularity of this program as approximately 30 African American males participated in the last luncheon. FHS also sponsored literary luncheons for the genera l school population, and over 150 students participated in the last one held.
57 Having a strong back ground in reading education, a belief in pro fessional collaboration, and commitment to mod el the importance of reading as well as follow through with profes sional development to ensure the growth and later sustainability of the rea d ing initiative were among the characteristics that contributed to actions. Actions by Leadership I nitiating PLCs was action to improve the r eading p rogram. The implementation of the PLCs w as a major u ndertaking that involved an allocation of time, expertise and financial resources. Once the leadership team decided to implement the PLCs they determined th at th ey would be most effective having full day regularly scheduled meetings rather than short after school meetings. This posed a scheduling problem. Fortuitously, FHS had just been designated a Title I school As a result, Mr. Alleto made the decision to allocate Title I funds to provide substitute s, which would free up teachers to devote at least four days a year to PLC activit ies. An administrator explained: be meet ing W e set aside a full day, a minimum of once a quarter, to come together s some quality time. And a lot of what the literacy team ended up producing this year co mes out of those times together. (Interview 2/7/45 ) The leadership reported a belief th at full day PLC sessions promote d more quality r esults than what might be produced by sessions that are scheduled an hour here or there. In this regard, Mr. Alleto stated: I think [the full day sessions are] really key to the implementation because we rea lly value teacher time m e. If we made them stay after school or on extra time we provided them with subs for the day and treat them like professionals ; they were more will ing (Interview 3/4/35)
58 demonstrated to the faculty that PLCs were important and that expectations were hig h The teacher directed (as opposed to administrator directed ) PLCs added to th Teachers were giv en something they never had enough of, time to be with peers. As a result, their negativity quickly shifted. The PLCs featured prominently in interviews with both administrators and teachers. When asked whether there were any drawbacks to the PLCs the re spondents replied that the only negative was the loss of classroom time as the PLCs required hiring su bstitutes for the participating teachers However, as the assistant principal for curriculum noted the teachers quickly realized that the instructional time sacrificed was worth it: Our philosophy is we want teachers in classes teaching. Nobody wants to I can save a whole lot of time and be a whole lot more effective if I can take that 15 minutes to pull over and ask for directions rather than continue down this path of the wrong dir ection or ineffectiveness for an additional four days in my buck and those four days I pulled out put me in a more effective how valuable is that? (Interview 2/9/24) She added that the teachers quickly recognized the value of the PLC days and realized that they resulted in more effective instruction: more time curriculum maps for 20 teachers from 20 some years of people buying in to a concept. (Interview 2/9/9) The leadership stood behind their decision to designate a good deal of time and resources to PLCs and the teachers interviewed had nothing but positive remarks
59 about them. However, focus on reading probably meant that other areas were neglected: Professional development Five years ago nure the FHS faculty went through intensive reading intervention training through the Florida Reading Initiative (FRI). (given additional FRI training). Interviews revealed much about how Mr. All eto ensured that the FRI strategies were i mplemented at his school. The PLCs were the prime opportunities through whi ch the FRI strategies were reinforced on a regular basis with the faculty. Rather than providing the initial instruction and then leaving ollow up or continued training, time was set aside for refres her training on each PLC day. This re training included an alysis of data in order to select specific reading strategies to learning n eeds. The re ading coach conducted the follow up sessions by tailoring the delivery to each subject area PLC group This form of differentiated professional d evelopment allowe d each PLC to apply the training in way s that best suited their content. Further, FHS particip CAR PD program Understanding th at certain reading strategies are more suited to certain content areas, some members of subject area de partments at FHS participated in CAR PD training and a few became trainers themselves Through the tra ining, researched based reading strategies learned in intensive reading classes were content area classes Those students not enrolled in intensive reading class still had the advantage of learning content through the evidence based reading strategies. CAR PD resulted in the
60 increased use of reading strategies across the curriculum. One reading teacher s tat e d, and [content area classes] are ju mping on board because we have many CAR PD Perhaps even more important than the CAR PD training was that the school leadership made it clear to content area teachers that reading instruction is a shared respo nsibility As M r. Alleto note matter what your con sentiment /1/7). One of the CAR PD teachers commente d that the school leadership demonstrated their belief in the importance of incorporating reading strat egies in all curriculum areas. For example, the leadership team was always present at reading strategy tr ainin g sessions and at the PLCs, and sometimes conduct ed the training t hemselves. This teacher also noted that the FHS faculty was visibly The faculty at this school recognizes that these strategies help them teach their conte nt Alt hough the initial FRI training was conducted at this school several years ago the interviews indicate d that as a result of retrainings and reinforcement, the FRI strategies are still a part of the everyday conversat ions and processes across the school curriculum. Often, when a schoolwide training is implemented the impac t of the program dimin ishes over time as the initial enthusiasm wanes and faculty turnover results in new teachers who do not have the bene fit of the training. The leadership at
61 FHS took steps to avert this drop off. New teacher induction include d sessions wi th the reading coach and FRI training. In this way teachers new to the school learn ed about FHS expec tations for instruction and the FR I strategies. The assistant p rincipal for curriculum explained : We have systems in place to make sure when we have new hires come in. W e have a training we put new teachers through so we make sure we have the same common vocabulary, the same background and understanding that, at this school reading is expected to be a part of all content areas. (Interview 2/3/11) Although the training for new teachers was not the two week extensive training and subsequent retraining that the whole school went through unde r the auspices of the FRI grant, it did help sustain the initiative. Additionally, to ensure accessibility of reading strategies to those teachers without extensive reading backgroun ds, the literacy team chose the ir e ssent ial six the FRI strategies. These six strategies are activating prior knowledge, the use of concept maps, utilizing column notes, qu estion/answer relationship reciprocal teaching, and employing summary frames. Posters wit appear in every classroom, o ffice, and even the hallways of the school. New teachers were given training on these strategies during their induction period. The reading coach reported that em phasizing these strategies gave content teacher s whose area of expertise may be other than li teracy to hang on that the leadership team used common vocabulary the school so that the faculty knew to infuse thos e strategies into the classroom (Interview 1/3/16) s tenure at FHS T he continuous retraining and rei nforcement of the FRI strategies on PLC days, and the
62 efforts to include FRI orientation duri ng new teacher induction ensured that FRI strategies remain a cornerstone of instruction at FHS Money allocat ed for professional development was limited by budget cuts. B ecoming a Title I school alleviated some of the financial constraints on FHS; however, the money to bring in outside tr ainers dried up over the pa st two years. The leadership dealt with these cutbacks by encouraging in house professional development. Key members of each department were chosen to attend out of district training to become trainers and to bring their expertise back to the school to share with their peers. Faculty b ook studies were encouraged, sometimes in response t o teacher deficiencies p erceived by school leaders as they spent time in classrooms doing teacher evaluations. The reading coach discussed her experiences in leading a book study Words Wo rds Words: Teaching Vocabulary in Grades 4 12 She remarked that some of the book study participants were there at the suggestion of the administration while others simply wa nted to increase their instructional repertoire of vocabulary and graphic organiz er strategies. Also, the administrators at FHS often lead professional dev elopment sessions themselves. Mr. Alleto stated that his team is highly qualifie d to do so. As previously reported the assistant principal for curriculum is a reading specialist an d the former district read ing contact person. O ther administrators are certified to conduct workshops in areas of staff development such as integrating technology and cooperative learning With a leadership team prepared to lead professional development, Mr. Alleto utilized Survey Monkey to conduct needs assessment at the beginning of each school year and s urvey results were used to put together the staff development program for the
63 year. Being responsive to the unique need s of his faculty and students was one of the professional development vision. B reaking away from district mandates, FHS was able to differentiate professional development for teachers by giving them choices. Pla nning responsive s taff training produced an effect ive professional development pro gram at FHS Finally teacher development at FHS often took the form of on e on one mentoring. Teachers were given release time to observe the reading coach or other master teachers model lessons with imbedded read ing strate gies. Alternatively, at times the reading coach or one o f the reading teachers came into content classroom s to facilitate activities require d the principal to grant rele ase time and provide substitutes for the teachers who were observing and both administrators an d teachers reported that this was a common occu rrence at FHS. If an administrator conducting an evalu ation of a content teacher noted that teacher was failing t o effectively infuse research based reading strategies into i nstruction then that teacher was referred to the reading coach for assistance and support. The leadership team at FHS believes that individualized professional development is key to improving i nstruction at the school and accordingly built an effective peer mentoring system. The assistant principal stated that she believed and that building people can best be accomplished by dealing with them one on one (Interview 2/13/7) Classroom observations Upon taking the principalship at FHS Mr. Alleto made it a priority that leadership team members spend a good deal of time in classrooms observing teachers
64 an activity known as walk throughs. W alk throughs were mentioned in every interview as were the terms look fors and ask fors, activities from the Learning F ocused training th at th e district recently implemented Together, the leadership and faculty deve loped a list of features that administrators would look for when they observed each classroom, as well as things they would ask for during these observations. The look fors included the use of imbedded FRI strategies during instruction and word walls to en courage v ocabulary acquisition. Research based reading strategies might be part of the ask fors. For example, an administrator observing a classroom might ask the teacher or a student about which pre reading strategies were used or whether summary frames were utilized after reading. Professional conversations The terms collaboration professional conversations and dialogues were mentioned repeatedly in the interviews These terms evidenced teacher empowerment, respect between administration and fa culty, and the collaborative culture of the school. Participants indicated their belief that th eir collaborative culture was a byproduct of the PLCs. When discussing PLCs, one teacher shared planning with other teachers, so I fe el that when we work together more students are (Interview 4/9/1). The difference between congeniality versus collegiality was also discussed more than once in the course of the interviews. The leadership recognized that the faculty was congenial but felt that collegia lity had to be developed to facilitate the PLCs performance An assistant principal explained how providing a presentation on team building was essen tial to the ultimate success of the PLCs:
65 What we did with each group as they began their PLC journey [was] a whole lesson on the dynamics of a team and the effective practices of a team and kind of the steps you go through as you evolve into a truly coll egial team and [the principal] does that training and he does it fabulously. (Interview 2/6/35) In regard to t he transformative nature of the PLC initiative Mr. Alleto stated, started really getting into the data and showing teachers scores and what it was we needed to do, the conversations and the dialogues that evolv ed from that were very powerful One of the main benefits of professional dialogues was that the faculty develope d a common vocabulary for reading intervent ion The reading coach pointed out that most of the faculty had acquired the same terminology and Mr. Alleto noted, 3/14/43). The faculty, the administration, and the students as well, became aware of the research b ased reading strategies that were expected to be used throughout the curriculum. When a CAR PD social studies teacher was asked whether her students recognized the FRI strategies when she applied them in her history classes, she Alleto stated put those people in a room to teachers know wha t the administrators look for when they do walk throughs in their classrooms, and t he students know for example, that the same su mmary frame strategy tha t they learned in the ir language a rts class wi ll be used in their history or science classes.
66 Providing diverse programs to meet the needs of students The leadership at FHS concentrate d on identifying the various student groups tha t need ed help and providing diverse programs to meet their varied needs. Mr. Alleto explained that identifying struggling students and making sure t hey are in the right programs was a priority and described in terventions. Depending on t heir reading needs, students were placed in intensive reading classes with a reading teacher or a Read 180 class, or double blocked into a reading class teamed with a CAR PD history or English c lass. Some students who were curre ntly performing at an ac ceptable level but were sho wing signs of being at risk were not necessarily given a special reading class but might have been assigned to a CAR PD teacher for extra monitoring and support. In four of the five interviews, it was largely due to their lowest quartile students upset about that grade, and it was a bottom quartile issue. They had 38% of their The administrator added that after the change in leadership the school jumped to 50% of that same group making learning gains and she com mented that this significant jump motivated the faculty. The leadership was aware that lack of progress in bottom quartile students affected the long term academic success of these students. When questioned about the special reading needs of certain studen ts, our resources and energy toward students in the lowest quartile. And actually, if you
67 But, as most interviewees were quick t o point out, the focus on the lowest achieving students has more to do with helping the students and ensuring their success than with their earning a certain grade O ne reading teacher explained: [T or the other and I started 80% passed. B ut [who failed] school grad e ; (Interview 4/8/10) A common theme throughout the interviews was focusing on student achievement and ensuring that students could comprehend text and carry strategies learned into their real life reading. While the p articipants acknowledged that the school grade was a motivating factor, they also wanted the students to have authentic learning experiences which would help them be successful both in and out of school. The leadership team at FHS has been very active in e nsuring that research based reading strategies are infused into instruction at the school. Strong beliefs about the importance of reading instruction, concern for the school grade, and the practice of making data based decisions has led to a strong culture of literacy. The principal and his team have taken actions which include instituting PLCs, encouraging professional conversations, spending time in classrooms, expanding CAR PD training, and providing differentiated professional development and diverse pr ograms for struggling readers. These actions promoted a school culture in which teachers share responsibility for reading achievement. The relationship between leadership beliefs, actions and the resultant culture of the school is illustrated in Figure 4 1
68 Figure 4 1. Frem antle High School: promote d research based r eading i nstruction
69 Research Question 2: What factors facilitate and/or impede the infusion of research based reading strategies into instruction at the school? Facilitat ing F actors W hen asked about factors at the school that facilitated the infusion of rese arch esponses generally fell into three themes: leadership, professional development, and money. Leadership The participants described how leadership made a significant difference in reading achievement at FHS The principal and assistant principal for curriculum were brought to the school in These two, along with other school leaders, cultivated a school culture that values and promotes reading across the gree in elementary education and years spent teaching at th e elementary level provided him with a solid foundation in reading instruction. The ass istant principal for reading coach and most recently the reading contact for the district also was an asset Further, the oth er administration training in literacy strategies qualified them to lead professional development sessions i n readi ng The teachers interviewed expressed confidence in the T he principal made it a priority for members of the leadership team to be present at all staff developm ent sessions. Mr. Alleto pointed out th e importance of solidarity between teachers and administrators: I ; and strong co nversation fro m me we have to model what we expect (Interview 3/10/25)
70 in reading professional development activities modeled the importance of reading instruction. The leaders emphasize d reading instruction by looking for the infusio n of reading strategies during classroom walk throughs and asking teachers about reading strategies during post observation conferences. The FHS l eadership created a culture with a continuous focus on reading strategies and high expectations. As previousl y d iscussed, FRI strategies were reinforced at every PLC session, and the sse ntial s ix reading strategies were posted in ever y room in the school. All of the teachers indicated that having a common vocabulary was a catalyst for infusing research based r eading strategies. Knowing that all of the subject areas were using the strategies and that the students were familia r with them was a major facilitator for teachers implementation of FRI strategies. The admin istrators at FHS shar e d ip decisions with the faculty. Feedback was often solicited, and the teachers expressed a n appreciation for being t reated as professionals and having an active role in determining the schoo course. Since PLCs were implemented, a new spirit of collaborat ion blossomed. I nterviewees referred to this spirit as a force t h at smoothed the progress of implementing reading strategies across the curriculum. s was supported by release time to observe peers, the reading coach model in g and/or co teach ing some lessons, and additional professional development. Another leade rship decision that contributed to reading improvement was the use of motivational activities plan ned by the literacy team These activities inclu de d with contests and other fun events for the students,
71 the Litera r y Luncheons and extrinsic motivators for reading improvement such as gift cards and celebrations. is cu leadership for the change. One of the teachers summed up the makeover of FHS culture by stating, school and people really loving the school and wanting to take it to a different level. The interviews revealed that FHS had a leadership team with high expectations that could articulate their literacy plan for t he school improvement. Professional development Professional development was frequently mentioned as a factor which facilitated improved reading instruction. The participants also noted that school leaders constantly reinforced the strategies learned on professional development days According to Mr. Alleto: professional development days. You bring it up, you reteach it, you talk about it. Those teachable moments, those walk throug hs. You talk about those things. (Interview 3/13/42) R einforcement was practiced through PLC days, during e training, informal conversations, and additional workshops. Extra reinforcement was pr ovided through book studies, in house staff development sessions and district CAR PD training
72 In addition to participating in the CAR PD training, three faculty members and one administrator were recently sent to the International Reading Conference in Orlando and returned \ with the latest reading research to share with the faculty. Teacher input was solicited when professional development was planned and facul ty members were encouraged to share their own expertise by leading professional development activities which promoted teacher empowerment. The leadership team at FHS decided to remain focused on FRI to sustain the use strategi es. Mr. Alleto and his team limited new professional development projects in favor of constant reinforcement of the research based reading strategies learned through FRI. When asked about this, the principal explained : t want to take on anything new. better improvement. And I think the teachers appreciate it beca use they get sick keep doing tha t because it makes it confusing (Interview 3/14/3) development program and allowed teachers to increase their comfort and skill in implementing the FRI strategies. Money Money was frequently mentioned as a factor that facil itated the infusion of research Title I status. Mr. Alleto and his staff credited Title I funds with their ability to implem ent the PLCs. The focus of a large percentage of their Title I dollars was on substitutes to allow teachers to attend professional development sessions.
73 District financial support also was c ited as beneficial to improving readi ng instruction. The district financed the original FRI training and funneled Title II dollars toward the PLC program. Mr. Alleto was quick to give the district credit, commenting, of fact Alt hough the budget reduction was occasionally referred to as a c hallenge, interviewees indicated that the school leade rship was committed to designating as many resources as possible toward reading improvement. the media center used a substantial part of their budget to support the Literary Luncheons by purchasing books and food for the students involved. Additionally, the school administration devoted funds to motivational programs for the students, such as buying gift cards for those who demonstrated reading gains and sponsoring special re ading games contests, an Students who used strategies appropriately in class or exhibited other positive reading behaviors had their names put into a drawing for prizes. These positive rewards were funded by the leadership team. 1/8/11). Factors which facilitated the infusion of research based reading strategies at FHS included leaders hip factors, professional development activities, and the availability of Title I and District monies. These factors a re found in Figure 4 2.
74 Figure 4 2. Fremantle H igh School f actors that facilitated the infusion of research based reading strategies
75 Impeding Factors When asked about factors that impede the infusion of research based reading strategies across the curriculum t he most co mmon reaction from FHS staff here however, the interview ee s revealed that the f aculty and administration overcame many of the factors that otherwise would have been hindrances Impeding facto rs for which solutions were found The educators at FHS displayed an attitude of efficacy that surmount ed most challenges. For example, as noted financial impediments were overcome by collecting the data and going through the steps to become a Title I school as well as by writing grants for district fiscal support. The interview ee s indicated that time was considered an impediment until the schoo l administrators made the decision to hire substitutes for PLC days so that four full days a year (and more if warranted) could be devoted to staff development. Additionally, the school changed from staggered planning periods for teachers to a common plan ning block before school, further facilitating teacher collaboration. Teacher buy in to the reading initiative could have been a problem; FHS is a large school and changing the culture was a challenging task. H owever, interviews with both admi nistrators a nd teachers showed that teachers felt empowered once PLCs were in itiated which increased their participation One teacher observed that at the beginning of the FRI initiative the facu lty was struggling to implement the strategies in isolation. When PLCs were instituted personal relationships were enhanced collaboration was cultivated and the resultant positi ve culture change was salient. As a result of being able to provide input and having decision making power, teachers reported an increased
76 sense of ownership and positive attitude about improving reading achievement at their school. In this regar d t he assistant principal suggested that providing opportunities and resources for teachers to come back together each quarter exemplified the administration are the professionals and we need to give them this opportunity ; an d so [we sat] down and [the leadership made sure] that [we] remained focused in these PLCs (Interview 2/17/4) The size of the scho ol also was a stumbling block to conducting classroom walk throughs. The logistics of a large, sprawling school made spending significant time in many classrooms difficult. B y reassigning evaluators and teachers, and by developing a streamlined plan based on proximity, the administrators ensured that the time they could spend in e maximized. Because scheduling struggling students into intensive reading courses was a challenge, the faculty, administration, and guidance department worked together to double block the neediest students into reading classes In addition, CAR PD teachers were increasingly used to students, those who needed support but whose scores did not warrant placement in intensive reading. Anot her potential impediment discussed was st udent resistance Many struggling readers had a negative attitude toward reading and balked when reading strategies were introduced into their subject area classes. A social studies teacher reported that a typical r esponse from her students when she us ed reading strategies to teach her 2/7) Student resistance was reduced by motivating activities suc h a s the Literary Luncheons a reward system for improvement and positive behavioral supports.
77 a solid background in reading instruction could have impeded the infusion of reading strategies into instruction; however, p edagogical deficiencies were lessened by PLCs, CAR PD training, and contin ued professional development. Impeding factors still to be faced Alt ho ugh the leaders at FHS overcame many of the challenges seen in a lar ge school some factors have been more difficult to surmount The mo st common factor cited was high stakes testing. M ost administrators and teachers believed th at the current emphasis on high stakes testing detra cted from instructional time, and hampered efforts to focus on authentic reading and to help the students become critical readers. The int erviewees reported that despite state mandates they continued to seek a balance bet ween providing individualized, authentic, diversified instruction and compliance T he changing demographics of the school present ed a continuous challenge as new groups of students with limited English proficiency enrolled at the school. The economic downturn affected Swan D istrict more severely than others resulting in increasing numbers of low socio economic status students These students presented the faculty and leadership with another set of unique needs related to reading instruction. As with all schools, Fremantle was faced with factors that both promote d and hinder ed instruction Not ably, this school was able to prevail over most of their challenges while acknowledging that some are st ill to be faced. The leaders interviewed had positive proactive attitudes and tended to look beyond hurdles. The factors
78 impeding the infusion of research based reading strategies into instruction and the factors for which solutions have been found are pr esented in Figure 4 3. Figure 4 3. Fremantle Hi gh School factors that i mpeded infusion of research based reading s trategies
79 The can do attitude with whic h the FHS faculty dealt with the impediments that occasionally surfaced showed that they had a cul ture of efficacy The teachers and administrators look ed for solutions and share d the responsibility for improving reading achievement. Research Question 3: How does the school leadership hold teachers accountable for infusing research based reading strat egies into their instruction? Providing training in rese arch based reading strategies was only the beginning of a commitment to lite racy achievement. Accountability continued to be essential to sustained improvement Accountability at Fremantle High Schoo l The main component of accountability at FHS was classroom walk throughs. As p art of the Learning F ocused training required by the district, classroom walk throughs as practiced at FHS consist ed of look fors and ask fors To ensure that resea rch based r eading strategies were being used across the curriculum, FHS administrators look ed for such things as the essential s gies posted in each room and evidence that they were being utilized. Administrators ask ed the teachers whom they visit ed to explain how they wer e focusing on vocabulary strategies (an area of weakness that the school was targeting) and ask ed students if they were using identified strategies before reading, during reading and after reading Mr. Alleto explained that this wa s done in every class taught at the school w hether it be c ontent, vocational, fin e arts. W hen we design our lesson plans, what are those activities that (Interview 3/2/ 36).
80 Both faculty and administrators remarked that the walk throughs were a more effective means of accountability than were checking lesson plans because the walk throughs enabled school leaders to see the strategies in action. As the reading coach stated T he administrators] do enough walk see lesson plans] because, honestly, anybody c an write a good lesson plan. It When asked, tea chers responded that they welcomed the walk throug hs as they were non threatening, and they felt that the principal observations helped them to improve instruction. The reading coach stated t hat walk throughs encouraged professional developmen t fidelity, k eeping the use of the strategies from slacking off : throughs, look fors, and ask fors from the administrators, if the hang on 1/11/37). One okay and I other teachers stay on top o f things The administrators also felt that the walk throughs, thoug h time consuming and demanding, for reading inst ruction. The principal remarked that this process validated what teachers were doing. Moreover, he pointed ack. While it took a while for teachers to accept these visits as normative, they came to appreciate : People want to be encou raged and they want to be thanked and they want to be appreciated. They want to know that [somebody cares about] what
81 up lessons every day and nobody knows about it, after a Why am I doing Of course, not every teacher observed gives ng up lesson FHS implemented procedures to support teachers who may not be adequately infusing reading strategies into their instruction. In these cases, th e reading co was invaluable. Once the evaluating administrator noticed a pr oblem, the reading coach was brought in to lend assistance to the teacher in the form of retraining, modeling lessons, co teaching, and whatever else the administrator prescrib ed. The assistant principal explained : We will identify classrooms where the teacher needs more support and ask the reading coach to be in the classroom, to model lessons, to do some side by side teaching, and I consider that to be professional development of the best kind t he one on one mentoring/coaching relationship. (Interview 2/4/4) Other remedies, such as participation in a book study, taking online courses, or attending additional staff development sessions also might be recommended However as Mr. Alleto noted the occasions when these steps were necessary were rare He observed that the FHS teachers were commendable in their efforts to learn and utilize research based methods. The interviews i s dedicated to ensurin g that rese arch based reading strategies wer e infus ed across the curriculum. This wa s primarily accomplished through classroom walk throughs and formal observations. Continuous professional development and revisiting the FRI strategies, along with extra su pport pr escribed for teachers who were struggl ing to implement the strategies were also import ant component s of accountability. The result wa s a positive, supportive atmosphere of shared responsibility.
82 Maylands High School Research Question 1: How does th e school leadership promote the use of research based reading strategies across the school curriculum? Like FHS the Maylands High School (MHS) faculty and administrators w ent through intensive training on FRI strategies five years ago. MHS reading scores have been at or above the district and state level s since it opened in the 2005 2006 school year. The interview ee s indicated however, that the school has drifted from the use of the FRI strategies. MHS has a dedicated and resourceful reading coach T he teachers receive ongoing training in research based reading strategies However, reading across the curriculum is not emphasized as strongly as it is at FHS and t he school does not have a functioning literacy team. The reading coach repor ted that s he and the media specialist tried some literacy activities a few years ago but that they were discontinued because they did not have a wide impact Since MHS is i neligible for Title I funds, the personnel interviewed at MHS indicated that limite d time and funding kept their school from intensely focusing on reading stra tegies. Moreover, the focus on reading professional development. Finally, leadership beliefs and educational background affe cted the path of reading instruction at MHS Leadership b eliefs Dr. Phillip Richards has served as the principal at MHS since it opened six years ago. A for mer biology teacher he also has a strong reading background having been a CRISS trainer and reading consultant. Dr. Richards is a strong advocate of r eading acr oss the curriculum but believes th at math and science need equal attention, stating
83 any things I have to focus on endeavor wa s the piloting of a STEM academy at MHS T he STEM academy is a cross curricular magnet program that includes coordination between science, technol ogy, engineering and math disciplines. Piloted for incomin g 9th graders, the program is expand ing to a differe nt grade level each year. A s the program grows, it will incorporate language arts skills. MHS ad ministrators did not, however, disregard the impor tance of reading. The assistant principal stated our opinion is that all teachers can benefit from reading strategies explain ed that the reading coach and reading teachers worked with different academic departments to assist them with content specific reading instructional techniques (Interview 7/4/27). Dr. Richards believes in differentiated professi onal development and thus schedule d most of the ongoing teacher training through subject area departments in small gr oups. To facilitat e this, in the MHS master schedule he gave each department a common planning period and allowed them to collaborate and schedul e training pertinent to their discipline during that time. He explained here for several years (Interview 5/8/1). The assistant principal for curriculum concurred that departmental common planning and professional development ge ared toward each subject area was math department
84 the assistant principal added, essional development has to be multi take a little creativity to figure out what best suits each department, each group, so that iew 7/5/44). Based on this, the school planned to i mplement PLCs in the coming year to allow departments to identify their own professional development needs and to adopt the instructional strategies best suited to their subjects. Dr. Richards offered this perspective iate instruction for st udents. W hy not differentiate instruction for teachers? On our The school leaders interviewed also expressed a stro ng belief in the power of peer learning. Accordingly, they tailored much of their professional development around peer observations, mentoring by the reading coach, and a co teach ing structure that teamed a subject area teacher with a reading teacher. The reading teacher modeled res earch based reading strategies Dr. them with the opportunity to s ee that. So one of the t hings I do is get substitutes for my teachers in order to do walk throughs with u s (Interview 5/8/31 ). He added that, by taking teachers into the classrooms of other teachers who were successfully incorporating research based reading strategies and other exemplary instruction al practices into their lessons, he was able to give authentic, concrete examples of quality teaching.
85 combined with recent budget cuts caused MHS to use their own in house experts to carry out much of thei r professional development. One administrator shared : I e, what your kids are like, what your day to day challenges are like. (Interview 7/6/1) Need to focus on other a reas Dr. Richards reported that M HS s data indicated a need to focus more on math and science achievement Accordingly less on s to improve instruction in those areas piloted in MHS biology classes. Lesson study consists of a team of teachers who collaborate to create a lesson, then observe the lesson as it is taught, reflecting on its merits and making changes to improve it. The cycle of reflection and improvement is repeated as often as necessary, and, o nce perfected, the teacher team shares the lesson with other educators. Dr. Richards reported that this program has promoted teacher collaboration and reflective practice. Along with the introduction of lesson study, MHS has launched the STEM academy The principal acknowledged that an increased focus on math and science, combined with limited time and resources, has resulted in a decrease of attention to reading s trategies He explained: You want to know about reading, but we need to improve math and of course exams in math and science now so we will [continue with l esson s tudy] in the math and biology department. So been doing. (Interview 5/9/45) Additionally, the district required both MHS and FHS to go through the L earning F ocused training, which became the heart of MHS professional development efforts
86 over the past two year s Finally, the district installed Macintosh computers at MHS th is year and required the faculty to attend training sessions so that they could learn about the n ew technology. These activities diminished available time for professional development in reading Limited time and m oney As previously stated MHS did not have access to the Ti tle I funds that FHS used to support its professional devel opment program. Budget cuts also affected the school leading the MHS administrators to seek ways to accomplish the most with the limited time a nd financial resources available Changing schedules from a 4 x 4 block to a seven p eriod day impinged on planning time and the district cut back one of the teacher in service days This affect ed the actions taken by the leadership team in regard to research based reading instruction across the curriculum. This will be discussed in more detail under Research Question 2. Actions b y Leadership M ost research b ased reading instruction was infused into the MHS lessons through the rea ding coach. Dr. Richards delegated day to day responsibility of the reading program to the coach and described her as the literacy leade r of the school. In this capacity the most far reaching action that she implemented wa s training every single freshman English class in the reciprocal teaching strategy. A s one component of the FRI initiative, reciprocal teaching is one FRI strategy still regularl y used at the school. Recently, the reading coach expanded th e reciprocal teaching training to freshman biology classes, further supporting the u se of strategy. In this regard, Dr. Richards commented :
87 We see re ally good value in [reciprocal teaching] because each of its four pieces can stand alone, but they also work really well together. So she teaches the first p art, and then adds in the other parts in subsequent year thing to get teachers up and working on it because unless they know it well the really going to use it (Interview 5/17/15) Every teach er was also expected to use a vocabulary word wall which administrators look ed for when doing classroom observations. As noted the MHS schedule provided each department a common planning period to facilitate collaboration and peer learning. In the coming year the entire staff will move to a common planning time before the students arrive in the morning. This schedule is projected to further encourage col laboration ; participants expressed the hope that it would allow time for the FRI strategies to be reem phasized. CAR PD was used at MHS to support Level 2 readers not assigned to an intensive r eading class. The r eading coach reported that students in CAR PD classes tatistically have every bit as good a passing rate as the students in the intensive readin (Interview 6/8/1). Additionally, the reading coach and occasionally another reading teacher visited the CAR PD classes to provide strategy reinforcement in the weeks prior to FCAT testing. In this regard, t he assistant principal stated: ot just the burden of the reading and the English teacher for the kids to the ; and ture that the kids are reading on the FCAT, science or social studies tex t. (Interview 7/3/28) T he reading coach or a reading teacher visit ed social studies and science classes which did not have CAR PD trained teachers to demonstrate how to break down a block of text, analyze its components, and decode the vocabulary. MHS referred to this as thei r co teach model. I nterviewees identified this model as the most common way that
88 the school improves achievement in reading across the curriculum The reading coach stated that teachers were open to the co teach model and frequently request ed that she or another reading teacher visit their classrooms. She added that t eachers regularly consult ed her about reading issues with which their students migh t be struggling and will request assistance. Similar to FHS, MHS relied heavily upon walk throughs, look fors, and ask for s to monitor teaching strategies used at the school. Dr. Richards reported that these walk throughs, as well as formal observations a nd follow up conversations wer e used to encourage use of research based reading strategies. He also acknowledged however, that the only elements looked for during classroom visits specific to reading were word walls and reciprocal teaching and added that the new teachers on staff have not received formal training i n the FRI strategies. Regarding his new hires, however, Dr. Richards expressed confidence that they are top notch educators He made it a priority to seek out, recruit, and hire outstanding tea chers. The relative newness of MHS has afforded Dr. Richards the luxury of choosing every teacher on staff. Commenting on the high cal iber of the faculty, he said : W pretty positive [culture]. I feel that the vast majority of my teachers wil l do anything I ask them to because they trust me, they know and I 5/10/12) Dr. Richards and his team cultivated a culture of high expectations. The result wa s a high performing school where the faculty shared responsibility for reading instruction. MHS were largely affected by their belief that, though reading is a key ingredient to school success, other areas need to be emphasized as well.
89 Limited time and funding also affected leadership actions. Figure 4 4 sh ows the factors that contributed to the actions taken by MHS leaders. Figure 4 4. May lands High School: promote d research based reading i nstruction
9 0 Research Question 2: What factors facil itate and/or impede the infusion of research based reading strategies into instruction at the school? Facilitating Factors The f actors at MHS that facilitate d the infusion of research based reading strategies into instruction include d leadership and facult y characteristics. Many interviewees also of these strategies. Leadership As discussed above the leadership at MHS has a strong background in reading e ducation. The principal was form erly a CRISS trainer and reading strategy consultant, and the assi stant principal for curriculum wa s formerly an English teacher. However, t he responsibility for most of the reading professional development at the school was delegated to the extremely know ledgeable and enth usiastic reading coach. Her sessions with every freshman English class in reciprocal teaching w ere recently expanded to freshman biology classes, and she conducted one on one mentoring with content area teachers. The school leaders inter viewed had a clear idea of the reading needs of their stud ents. Alt hough historically MHS students achieve d above the state average, there wa s a lack of adequate progress among the low est quartile readers. The leaders interview ed stated their concern for these students, and the interviews made it clear that leadership meetings include d discussions of this concern Teaching students to analyze works of non fiction and to interpret data from graphs and charts also were seen as areas critical to student suc cess One administrator commented that o ne of their most crucial needs wa
91 read, simultaneously, 7/1/15). The leadership team dedicated as much time as possible to visiti ng classrooms. A l though full scale retr aining in the FRI strategies had not taken place administrators use d what they observe d during classroom visits to prescribe professional development to individual teachers not demonstrating proficiency in literacy t eaching techniques. The most frequent ly prescribed training was the use of online tutorials or videos provided by the district or consultation with the reading coach When asked how infusing research based reading strategies into instruction was promoted at the school, the assistant principal for curriculum replied We provide them with those research gues do this book study. Please read the chapters. Dr. Richards will buy the book; please attend Teachers were open to the walk throughs and expect ed them. One CAR PD expectations are. So whenever t (Interview 8/5/8). She acknowledged, however, that specific strategies were not among the look fors; administrators were looking for reading instruction in general. The school administration gave te achers releas e time to observe peers who excelled in reading instruction and provide d substitutes for reading teachers who model ed lessons and co taught with faculty members who need ed support. The principal stated that he often took new teachers with him on walk throughs so that they could see exemplary teachers and discuss the ir observation s afterwards. This demonstrated considerable effort on the part of the pr incipal, as substitutes were
92 provided for the new teachers who accompanied him on walk throughs and this activity typically took a half day of his own time. Dr. Richards used the walk throughs as a learning experience He asked the new teachers what they saw during the lessons and then provided his own feedback : I t ake the teachers back and say, Okay here are the things I look for as I going to look for the environment I show them examples and non examples and we talk abou t what we saw. (Interview 5/8/44) Alt hough formal, adm inistrator driven PLCs were not yet institute d at MHS the principal set up the master schedule to allow each department a common plannin g period, which paved the way for collaboration and strategy sharing. The MHS faculty demonstrated commendable collegiality in initiating peer interaction and learning. S ome teachers informally bega n their own PLCs and plans we re being made to formally in stitute struct ured PLCs Finally, the leadership ivation to read. Alt hough funding was limited in the past few years, the administration made room in their budget to buy a class a set of i Pads which teachers could check ou t. E lectronic books and applications to appeal to reluctant readers were downloaded on the i Pads for classroom use The leadership also provided i ncentives such as gift cards for w ho exhibited reading ga ins There were even extrinsic rewards such as gift certificates for teachers who successfully integrate d reading st rategies into their curriculum
93 Faculty W hen asked to describe facilitating factors for reading instruction the mo st common response among the interviewees was the high caliber of the faculty. Dr. Richards stated : brought in some really good people here, and try t o get rid of not so good people. (Interview 5/11/11) Many t eachers voluntarily enrolled in the CAR PD training or earned the reading endorsement from the state. Reading teachers a nd the reading coach often spent tim e modeling lessons. Both teachers and administrators spoke at length about coached. The presence of administrators and the reading coach in the classrooms were seen a s a positive incentive to use the reading strategies rather than a threat. When asked about the attitude of content area teachers having reading teachers come into their classrooms, one administrator stated: if kids are given better reading strategies it helps not only with the reading FCAT but it helps them comprehend t he textbook material. I f they walk into a chapter in social studies or science better prepared to analyze the chapter, figure out what the main ideas were scan the text, look at the vocabulary, at the sub win situation (Interview 7/5/4) to participate in peer mentoring She commented positively about faculty enthusiasm for i mproving their instructional skills in the area of reading
94 She added tha t, when she conducted staff development sessions the vast majority of teachers attend ed whether or not the sessions we re mandatory She expressed that the teachers were receptive to her workshops because they realize d that the strategies taught help ed th em to present their content. She described teacher 6/11/23), but noted that time constraints kept her from having many trainings. Sh e commented that she was looking forward t o the new schedule in the coming year in which the whole staff would have a common planning period, anticipating that this would allow more opportunity for reading staff development and commended Dr. Richards for adjusting the master schedule in ways whi ch would be more conducive to collaborating and training. The high caliber and expertise of the facu lty, along with budget cuts, increasingly led MHS to use in house professional development. All interviewees, both teachers and administrators, seemed to pr efer this arrangement with one teacher stating, stepping out of the box and I feel we have some really brilliant minds at our scho ol. T he people I work with are great. They know about. If I have a question I can go to someone and it will be answered. A s far as professional development is concerned we probably could use what we ha ve here (Interview 8/6/38) New s chool MHS a relatively new school, opened six years ago and has had the same principal since opening Three of the four interviewees cited this as a facilitating factor, comment not so set in their ways that they would resist sharing responsibil ity for reading improvement.
95 Dr. Richards spoke about the benefits of starting out with a new school, the advantages of hiring a new staff stating, If I were the principal at [an older school] right now it would be much more difficult because schools are like really giant barges and it takes a lot of energy to move a barge beca use it has a lot of inertia. [An older school] is a barge with a lot of veteran tea chers who are staid [and have] seen principal after principal after principal come and they just hunker down and [expect] that principal will be gone (Interview 5/11/30) He expressed that many principals inherit a faculty, but that he had the adva ntage of hand picking each teacher at MHS and that he questioned each candidate about their commitment to literacy during the interview process. He elaborated on the degree of cooperation he experienced since open the school, stating that he never had diff iculty getting teachers to volunteer to pilot a new program or to become involved in an initiative. The reading coach stated that she thought that in their ways at the s chool, which (Interview 6/6/26). In her opinion, the MHS faculty believed that reading is a shared responsibility to a degree that faculties at other schools do not match Factors facilitating research based reading instruction at MHS include d a kno wledgeable team of proactive administrators, a faculty willing to do their part, and the adaptable culture o f a new school. Figure 4 5 presents the ways these factors have impacted the reading program at MHS.
96 Figu re 4 5. Maylands High School f a ctors that facilitated the infusion of research based reading strategies
97 Impeding Factors When asked about factors that impede d the infusion of research based reading strategies into instruction across t he curriculum, the staff of MHS was much more vocal than the staff at FHS The f actors cited included time, money, faculty turnover, focus on new programs, and state mandates. Time Dr. Richards acknowledged that MHS had no formal professional development for reading in the past year, citing time as a factor In fact, every interviewee at MHS named time as a major impediment to reading professional development a nd implementation of FRI strategies Further, Dr. Richards reported that one of their few pai d professional development days was cut from the calendar for the upcoming year The reading coach stated that when she first started at MHS several years ago th coordinator worked very closely with her to plan professional development around the FRI strategies, with workshops that featur ed one of the strategies each month. She adde d, however, that T hen we changed our schedule and it got crazy work out to have the continuous [reading] professional developmen (Interview 6/3/8) and that Regardi ng time, t he CAR PD teacher s t ated t that we never have e nough time to step out into creati vity and make it more fun and make it authentic (Interview 8/6/23) She reported that many teachers just wished they had more time to do research and plan so that they could do better for their students. She also expressed the expectation, as had the assistant principal an d the reading coach
98 schedule with common planning for all teachers would allow for reading to be r eemphasized on a regular basis The reading coach also mentioned that union issues kept her from scheduling mandatory after school or lunchtime sessions. As a result, she felt that the strategies taught in reading classes were not carried over into content classe s as frequently as they were three or four years prior. However, the coach and other interviewees were quick to point out that, despite straying from the FRI strategies, scores r emained at or above the district and state levels. Money Without Title I funds MHS could not afford additional reading professional development. E ven with in house experts who we re willing to give workshops on research based rea ding strategies it wa s di fficult to finance substitutes to allow teachers time to attend these workshops She stated (Interview 6/727). 7/13/41). In the focus group interview, however, Dr. Richard s stated that he was willing and able to seek out additional funds when necessary and the group concurred that o n occasion substitutes were provided so that CAR PD teachers could att end regio nal reading workshops. Several interviewees referred to the fact that the other district school, FHS ha d become a Title I school, providing them with benefits that the ir school could not afford dget] cuts, s many
99 added that he previously used School Advisory Council funds for trainings and incentives but that even these were scheduled to be further cut in the coming year Faculty t urnover The entire facul ty of MHS underwent intensive training in the FRI strategies approximately five years ago. Unfortunately a large number of those trained no longer teach at MHS The reading coach stated, faculty because we were ; and, to my 6/2 /25). Dr. Richards also noted that new teachers had not received training on the FRI ably 50% of our faculty has changed since we were FRI trained ( Interview 5/2/17). Adding to this many of the new faculty members were beginning teac hers who were to have something new t hrown in their laps (Interview 7/5/36). At the time of the interviews, the reading coach was trying to set up half day workshops for content teachers who were not FRI trained to provide them with essential strategies to assist in their instruction but ha d not yet found the time to accomplish this. Focus on n ew p rograms centered on the Learning Focused program and instruction in the new Macintosh computers. In every interview when asked about reading strategies each respondent ended up talking about the new district mandated L earning F ocused initiative. For example, when one CAR PD teacher was asked about the emphasis of reading
100 strategies in the classroom she r esponded that it had decreased over the past three years. H owever, over the past two years which is the Learning Focused model so with that we might draw [reading emphasis] back in. (Interview 8/1/32) The reading lar : This year the emphasis has been on Learning Focused so [administrators] are looking for the essential questions and for the acquisitio n lesson plan for the Learning Focused ; but when we went through the FRI training that was their focus and that wa s one of the things they were looking for. (Interview 6/9/5) Man y responses referred to the hope that when whole staff common planning was instituted, and when the Learning Focused and Mac computer training was over the school e [FRI] The focus group interviews also revealed that t h e new STEM academy which superseded much of the F RI focus in the previous year, was successfully launched and ost recent m ath scores (Focus Group 2/1/18). The group felt that, having the first year of the STEM academy behind them, they would have more time to rededicate to reading improvement. State m andates Many participants mentioned state and district mandates, especially unfunded o nes, as an impediment to improving reading instruction, citing the time spent on tests as one reason for insufficient time for reading professional development. The new emphasis on testing, according to one interviewee, did not take into consideration stud ent factors such as home lives, parents, and h ealth all of which can affect reading achievement.
101 The reading coach described how she was affected by the increasing demands of testing, stating that she was so tied up with Florida Assessm ents for Instructi on in Reading (FAIR) testing and with other mandated tests throughout the year that she could not fulfill he r functions as reading coach. Proctoring FAIR tests, which must be taken in a computer lab, was so time consuming that by the time that she complet ed the first round of testing it was almost time to begin the second round. Constant proctoring kept her from mentoring content teachers, monitoring reading teachers, interpreting data, or holding professional development t rainings She reported spending (Interview 6/10/7). She added that fortunately the school leadership was able to develop a more efficient schedule and was now helping her with the administration of the tests, freeing up more of her time to fulfill her other duties. The reading coach and the assistan t principal for curriculum expre ssed their doubts that the high stake s testing environment in Florida was in the best interests of the students. Other interv 8/7/9). Clearly time spent on mandated testing and other expectations from th e district and state a ffect e d the amount of time that teachers could devote to literacy activities, restricting both professional development and instructional time. The factors that impede d the infusion of research based reading strategies into instruction at MHS are presented in Fi gure 4 6. Among the impeding factors cited are lack of time a shortage of money, focus on new prog rams which reduced the emphasis on reading professional deve lopment, and state mandates.
102 Figure 4 6. Maylands High School f actors that impeded the infusi on of research based reading s trategies Scheduling conflicts made common planning a challenge. However, a new schedule will soon have the entire faculty on the same planning period (before students arrive) Teacher in service days were cut by district. However, PLCs were planned to give teachers time to collaborate and engage in reading PD Contract issues make mandatory PD sessions difficult to schedule TIME School ineligible for Title I dollars This district hit particularly hard by the economic downturn MONEY Many teachers who received the initial FRI training no longer at Maylands High; no follow up FRI training for new faculty FACULTY TURNOVER In the past two years most PD was centered on the Learning Focused training Lesson Study, another new program, was introduced New Macintosh computers required technology PD Increased time spent on math and science PD NEW PROGRAMS Increasing demands from the state with less time and money to implement detracted time from reading professional development Emphasis on testing detracted from instructional time STATE MANDATES
103 Research Question 3: How does the school leadership hold teachers accountable for infusing research based reading strategies into their instruction? Accountability at Maylands High School Since adopting the Learning Focused model, the administrat ors at MHS have spent a good deal of time in classrooms observing instruction, the chief means by which accountabili ty wa s ensured. Dr. Richards s which is some thing that he and his assistant principals look ed for as they carried out classroom walk throughs. The use of a word wall however, was the only vocabulary activity specifically referenced by the interviewees It was clear from the interviews that the adm inistrators at MHS spent a great deal of tim e in classrooms. The assistant principal estima ted that a member of the administration was in each teacher s classroom at least four times a week The general consensus was that this frequency of observation, com bined with the knowledge of what the evaluators were expecting to see, helped keep the faculty accountable. Referring to observing reading strategies, the assistant principal for curriculum stated: We let the teachers know that this is not something we wan t you to forget about by virtue of the fact that we expect to see it we want to see the kin (Inter view 7/11/39) The principal also delegated to this administrator the responsibility of s pot checking lesson plan books as an added measure of accountability. When asked about mandatory participation in professional development the response from the interviewees was that while the Learning Focused and Mac intosh computer trainings had been m andatory, the few reading sessions that had taken place over the past few years were not. Alluding to an optional book study in which some of the teachers had recently participated, the assistant principal stated :
104 Can I make you read a book? No. Is it obv read i t. And we have a very, very good staff (Interview 7/12/29) The principal described the process by which he counseled teachers who may not have included vocabulary strategies in their lessons. He explained that first he woul d drop the teacher a note tha t asked, were demonstrated he would prescribe professional development, usually in the form of mentoring from the reading coach, district videos or online tutorials. The next step would be to place the teach er on a success plan and the final step would be termination (Interview 5/5/15). He expressed the belief however, that positive encouragement and example setting are more effective means of ensuring accountability He used the proposed PLCs as an example : to force teachers to do this. W island; your job is to get as many peop le on the island as possible. still going to have people out okay 5/10/21). Dr. Richards expressed confidence that his faculty would eventually demonstrate a near complete buy in of the PLC movement because of the rapport and trust e stablished with the faculty. He stated 5/11/16). MHS, though maintaining go od reading scores, has drifted from ensuring that research based reading strategies are infused to instruction at the school. The principal and his staff cited factors which have resulted in a lessening of reading professional
105 development in the past three years, notably a lack of time due to increasing demands of other programs such as their new STEM academy. All participants, however, expressed the goal of reintroducing the FRI strategies once their new schedule is put into action. Additionally, their pla n to implement PLCs is expected to focus more attention on the literacy needs of the school. In the meantime, mentoring by the reading coach, a co teach model, and CAR PD teachers are the main means of improving reading instruction across the curriculum.
106 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION The purpose of this research was to explore the involvement of secondary school leaders in improving the reading programs at their schools. The investigation was accomplished through interviews of principals, assistant principals, re ading coaches, and teacher leaders about reading instruction across the curriculum at their school The interview data were used to address research questions about leadership actions, facilitating and impeding factors, and accountability. This chapter pr esents a summary of the findings, their relationship to previous research, implications of the findings, and suggestions for further research. The chapter end s with the conclusion s of the study Summary of the Findings Two high schools in the same district were the focus of this study. Both participated in FRI and received training in intensive research based reading strategie s approximately five years prior to this research. One school, FHS had received subsequent retraining in FRI and was still actively utilizing the strategies The new leadership at FHS developed a culture of shared accountability for th e reading program by providing subject area teachers with CAR PD training and by holding content teachers responsible for infusing their instruction with res earch based re ading strategies. Allocating time, funding and expertise for PLCs encouraging teacher empowerment and professional conversations through these PLCs, and differentiating bo th teacher professional development and programs for at risk readers created a schoolwide focus on literacy and sustainability of the reading initiative.
107 Factors found to facilitate infusion of research based reading instruction at FHS were (a ) the expert ise, attitude, and focus of the leadership te am; (b ) PLCs and continued FRI training, especi ally as new teachers were hired; and (c ) financial support in the form of district and Title I funds The teachers and administrators at FHS stated that very little impeded their efforts to infuse reading strategies into their curricula, as they had found solutions to the previous difficulties of money, time, teacher buy in, scheduling, logistics of a large campus and faculty, student resistance, and lack of teacher background in reading. However, a few impediments remain ed including state mandates, changing demographics of students and the demands of high stakes testing. Teacher accountability at FHS was generally ensured through administrator walk throughs and par ticipation in the PLCs. The second school MHS had drifted from t he use of FRI strategies and had not engaged in further formal reading professional development. Nonetheless, the leadership at MHS still strongly believed in the importance of reading instr uction across the curriculum. Administrators encourage d content teach ers to get CAR PD certification. The leadership team was a constant and supportive force in classr ooms. For example, t he reading coach modeled reciprocal t eaching and other strategies in clas ses, and the principal hired a strong faculty dedicated to student achievement. The level of expertise of the leadership team, their understanding of student needs, a schedule with common planning periods for each department, and the flexibility grant ed to teachers to observe other teache rs were among the factors that promoted infusion of reading strategies at MHS Additionally, the number of CAR PD teachers trained in reading strategies and the co teach model, as well as the str ong
108 culture of peer lea rning at MHS contributed to imp rovement in reading instruction The fact t hat MHS is a new er school added to the cooperative and collegial nature of the faculty. The administrators and teachers interviewed cited time, money, faculty turnover, the introduct ion of new programs, and state mandates as impediments to infusing research based reading programs at MHS Accountability wa s primarily ensured by classroom walk throughs, al though lesson plans were sometimes checked. R eading was considered to be just one structional program. The scope program at their schools and did not document the efforts that leaders put in to other important areas of the curriculum. The intervi ews provided evidence that FHS continued to utilize the reading strategies from FRI whereas MHS decreased over time, especially because of the introduction of the district manda ted Learning Focused program, the establishment of the lesson s tudy program piloted in the science department and the STEM academy The advent of end of course exams in math also affected the time spent on reading strategies in those classes. However, read ing scores at MHS remained high. Leadership Actions C ommon themes spanning both schools were a strong and active leadership presence, a culture of peer learning, the development of a common discourse, and a culture of shared responsibility for reading success. An element of the Learning Focused model which Swan District required both schools to adopt wa s frequent administrator presence in the classroom, and the findings indicate that leaders at both schools exce l l ed at this. Both schools look ed for and ask ed for r eading strategies during classroom walk thro ughs and he ld teachers
109 accountable for including reading strategies in thei r lessons. However, other than reciprocal teaching and word w alls, the leadership at MHS did not specify strategies to look for, whereas FHS e ssential s that they would be checking for when observing teachers. The interviews indicate d that FHS provided teachers with ongoing training in the strategies for which th ey are held accountable. In contrast, MHS held teachers accountable in general for reading instruction but did not provide explicit training in specific strategies. Common l eadership actions for both schools include d encouraging teacher participation in the CAR PD program and having teachers become certified to train oth er teachers in CAR PD, as well as hiring exemplary reading coaches who model ed reading lessons for subject area teachers. Because of the four full days set aside for PLCs, the FHS coach wa s able to do more direct instruction in the strategies and to assist teachers more in applying specific strategies in response to data analysis than the MHS coach, who primarily supported content teachers by modeling lessons in their classrooms. Also d ue to PLCs, there we re frequent p rofessional conversations between the leadership and the faculty at FHS along with a larger degree of teacher empowerment. At MHS, decisions about the reading prog ram appear ed to be more top down. As an indication of teacher initiative, t he MHS reading coach reported that content area teacher s frequently asked her for assistance with their inst ructional strategies. A conspicuous dissimilarity between the interviews at FHS and MHS was apparent when interviewees were asked about factors that imped e d the infusion of research based reading instruc tion. The respondents at FHS had difficulty answering
110 the question and some replied that they could not think of any impediments, responding only after continued probes. In contrast the respondents at MHS had no trouble answering the question and spoke a t length about the factors that impeded the infusion of research based reading instruction at their school. This difference could possibly be attributed to the implementation of PLCs at FHS and the fact that Title I funds financed reading staff development The staff at FHS noted that PLCs made all the difference in im proving their reading program. T hus far MHS has not emulated FHS al th ough plans were made to initiate PLCs in the future Both schools had motivational programs in the form of extrinsic rewards for reading improvem ent. FHS launched a popular by high interest books are given to students, especially those in at risk groups, and the books are discussed over a luncheon paid for by the principal. MHS fostered motivation t o read by downloading books on i Pads. FHS had a functioning literacy t eam that planned the Literary Luncheons where as MHS did not have such a team The observations reported in this study are not a criticism of the overall instruct ional program at MHS As previously stated, MHS scored at or above the state and dist rict average s in reading and consistently earned high grad es from the state. This scope of this study was narrowed to explore leadership practices as they pertain to readi ng improvement. The administrative team at MHS recognized that other areas such as math and science were in need of attention and accordingly i ntroduced recent math scores were outstanding. However, a n unintended consequence of
111 concentrating on STEM subjects was a diminishment of the focus on implementing reading strategies. FHS its focusing most of its time and energy on reading. Duke (2010) stated that differentiated leadership means taking different steps according to the variety of challenges that different schools performing school frequ ently entails a laser FHS luxury to initiate a science or any other kind of new program because the school was performing a self ac that other areas were neglected. In the world of education today with its increasing demands and decreasing budgets, finding the proper balance for all areas of instruction will continue to beco me more difficult for school leaders Relationship to Prior Research Schools cannot become effective unless high quality reading instruction takes place in every classroom. Second rate schools do not become high performing simply by adding an excell ent re ading remediation class; reading instruction must be infused in every classroom ( Allington 2005a). Accordingly, the principals of FHS and MHS had the responsibility to raise the level of reading instr uction across the curriculum, in every oom. Both Mr. Alleto at FHS and Dr. Richards at MHS had a solid & Miskel (2008) contend is necessary to be credible instructional leaders of literacy. School leaders must demon strate to the faculty that reading is a schoolwide priority (Carnegie Corporation 2009; Dukes, 2007; Florida Department of Education
112 2002; Irvin et al., 2007; Phillips, 2005; Taylor, 2004) and principals must conti nually update their knowledge of current reading research (Carmine & Grossen, 2008; Hallinger et al. 1995; Mullen & Hutinger, 2008; Zepeda, 2008). Both principals have done this, and the interviews revealed their high level of expertise in literacy issues. Managing Cha llenges Both schools face d challenges such as time con straints, budgetary cutbacks, the sustainability of professional development, lack of motivation from students, and, to some extent, teacher buy in. NASSP (2001) concluded that all teachers need to be prepared to assist their students to become better readers. Both schools in this study had active CAR PD programs, which gav e students the opportunity to use research based reading strategies when reading their content area texts. Allington ( 2005a ) stress ed that subject area teachers make their content more accessible by ensuring that students are equipped with reading strategies to make their texts understandable. The Florida Department of Education (2005a) favors that teaches student s strategies to decode content text. The CAR PD model employed at both high schools follow s this recommendation; participating history and science teachers teach the reading strategy, model its use, and then require the students to use the strategy in thei r assignments (Hock & Deshler, 2003). In fact, both FHS and MHS require d that all content area teachers (not just CAR PD trained ones) implement reading strategies into their lessons, as is recommended in the research (Carnegie Corporation 2009; Deshler e t al., 2004; Duke, 2010; NASSP, 2001; Parris & Block, 2007; Stevens & Bean, 2003; Torgesen et al. 2007; Tovani, 2000) In this way studen ts had the opportunity to apply
113 the reading skills learned in intensive reading classes in authentic ways that would carry over into academic and pleasure reading (Armbruster & Osborn, 2002; Irvin et al., 2007; Stevens & Bean, 2003 ; Weinstein, 2002 ). Time for professional development and instruction is often limited by day to day managerial affairs, district and state m andates, and a host o f other demands. Both schools wer e up against increasing mandates from the state, espec ially the multitude of tests required which reduce d the time available for professional development and, through their high stakes nature, detract e d from authentic learning experiences (Weinstein, 2002). School leaders need to be mindful of current research on these challenges and be prepared to take action. According to Weinstein, leadership are key. The principal must set prio rities and free time from external demands for [crucial] processes of resource development and monitoring [classroom Both principals took action to make use of their limited time, spent t ime in classrooms and developed new programs for their schools Experts advocate book studies as a good 5a ; Zepeda 2008). Both MHS and FHS initiated active, al though optional, book study groups. Other commonalities between the two schools include d flexibility on the part of leadership and creative scheduling to meet the needs of both the students and the teachers ( Allington, 200 5a ; Carnegie Corporation il, 2009; Phillips, 2005; Torgesen et al., 2007; Weinstein, 2008; Zepeda, 2008). FHS exhibited flexibility by hiring substitutes as a means to devote four full days to PLCs and by double blocking at risk students into reading intervention classes. Similarl y, MHS
114 adjusted their schedule to give subject area departments common planning time to foster collaboration Both schools we re flexible in granting release time to teachers so that they could observe their peers. In f act, there was a culture of peer lea rning at both schools, particularly at MHS The MHS reading coach, assisted by in tensive reading teachers, modeled the reciprocal t eaching strategy in all 9th gr ade language a rts and biology classes in a series of lessons that built upon each other. Collab oration, self efficacy and motivation should be the foundations of hig h school reading instruction, and modeling reading strategies (as opposed to simply teaching them) is a recommended practice (Vogt & Shearer, 2003 ; Zepeda, 2008 ). Differentiated L eaders hip The two principals in this study preside d over t wo different schools with diverse backgrounds and s tudent demographics; therefore, differentiated leadership was called for One of the significant differ ences between the two schools was the relative ne wness of MHS Whereas Mr. Alleto inherited a faculty and had the task of changing an ingrained school culture, Dr. Richards started from scratch in hiring teachers. Both p rincipals took into account ace litera cy when hiring O ne of their most important hires was that of the reading coach (Carnegie Corporation 2009; Roller, 2008; Shanahan, 2004; Torgesen et al., 2007). Both schools have active and dedicated reading coaches who work closely with the faculty At MHS Dr. Richards was building a faculty comm itted to school improvement, and the challenges that he faced were different from those at a more established
115 school Duke (2010) discussed the unique undertakings and broad based support needed to shape a new process will require continued adjustments and fine tunin intention to eventually reintroduce the FRI in itiative was part of these cont inued adjustments. H e already establ ished broad based support through crafting a school culture conducive to change. In the meantime he supplemented established success in reading by focusing on STEM subjects. Duke (2010) pointed out ned success requires a different set of ensure their continued growth of course is what Dr. Richards accomplished when he added the STEM academy to what MHS has to offer its students. Moreover, t he lesson s tudy program piloted in the biology department gave science faculty the opportunity to plan together, collaborate, and reflect upon their professional practice (West Olatunji, Behar Horenstein, & Rant, 2008; West Olatunji, Behar Horenstein, Rant, & Phillips, 2008). In comparison w hen Mr. Alleto arrived as FHS he was faced with standards and a faculty who was entrenched in its ways. FHS did not have a culture of collaboration and did not use data to guide school decisions. The school was in need of a change in both culture and practice. Duke (2010) discussed schools teetering on the brink of failure notin g that a crucial aspect of turning around a school in decline is recognizing the signs of decline soon enough to begin to effect improvement. Duke put forward the symptoms of schools in danger of failing and included lack of focus,
116 ineffective instruction, lack of data, lack of teamwork, and ineffective staff development. Fortunately, Swan D istrict did recognize the signs of potential failure at FHS and installed a new principal who was aware that sweeping measures were needed. All the symptoms listed above were addressed and, to a great extent, were resolved with the implementation of PLCs. The data based decision making of FHS by the literature (Duke, 2010; Florida Department of Education, 2002; Hoy & Hoy, 2006; Weinstein, 2002; Zepeda, 2008). Weins tein (2002) found that The reframing of belief, action, and policy is far less likely when teachers work apart from each other, when administrators remove themselves from the instructional life of schools, when the work of schools is disconn ected from research advanced in the field, and when school staff members do not know how every one of their students is progressing (p. 202) M result s illus trate the truth of this statement. In the FHS PLCs, teachers a nd administrators work ed side by side to analyze student data and collaboratively decide which res earch based strategies they would emplo y in response to their analysis, as is recommended by the research ( Duke, 2010; Hoy & Hoy, 2006; Weinstein, 2002; Zeped a, 2008). The research on the effectiveness of PLCs such as those introduced at FHS is substantial and growing (Carnegie Corporation 2009; F lorida Department of Education 2002; Mullen & Hutinger, 2008; Zepeda, 2008). This transformational l eadership made a difference to the school in one school year. FHS is currently maintaining that level of achievement and FHS teachers credit the sc Prior research also indicates that a high degr ee of instructional dialogue among all faculty members promotes increased achievement (Blase & Blase, 2004; Florida Department of Education, 2002; Hoy & Hoy, 2006; Phillips, 2005; Zepeda, 2008).
117 Although the PLCs paved the way for instructional dialogues a mong FHS study revealed that the faculty at MHS also maintained a strong culture of peer learning and engage d in informal instructional dialogue to a high degree. Without the structured setting of a PLC for these dialo gues, however, MHS teac hers had to initiate them independently and in smaller peer groups. A striking distinction between the actions of the leadership teams at the two schools was related to the Learning Focused initiative. At MHS, implementation of Learning Focused superseded professional development in research based reading strategies. The faculty centered their professional development time on Learning Focused and let the FRI emphasis lapse, forgoing continuous reinforcement of the strategies and of the training of new hires Conversely, the new leadership at FHS program to reemphasize reading instruction, integrating use of the FRI strategies into the Learning Focused model. This was largely accom plished by launching PLCs which were financed by Title I funds for which MHS does not qualify. Funding FHS PLCs were financed through Title I funding. FHS had not previously been designated a Title I school, but the leadership team went through the steps of gathering the requisite information and filling out the paperwork to gain Title I status. Duke (2010) recommended that low performing schools seek such funding as Title I provides funds for rea ding professional development. Duke added that when financ es are limited, it is necessary for leaders to select and limited set of specific improvement targets it is difficult for school leaders to know how to allocate scarce resources and to determine if the ir efforts a re producing desired
118 uke 2010, p. 50). Swan District Schools are in a Florida county with a higher than average unemployment rate. Both principals will continue to be challenged to find funds for reading professional development and for high quality materials that will challenge and engage students (Armbruster & Osborn, 2002; Biancarosa & Snow, 200 6 ; Carnegie Corporation 2009; Duke, 2010; F lorida Department of Education 2002; Stevens & Bean, 2003, Vogt & Shearer, 2003). Sustainabi lity and Accountability Sustaining a schoolwide professional devel opment initiative is difficult. Typically, trainings lack follow up and the opportunity to practice, reflect, and fine tune (Duke, 2010, NASSP, 2001; Weinstein, 2004; Zepeda, 2008). When sch ool staff s are not giv en sufficient time or credit to collaborate, they can not nurture or sustain school change. Duke (2010) asserts that training in literacy instruction must be provided on a continuing basis to reinforce key concepts and to get newly hir ed teachers on board. Clearly, this study demonstrated how an initiative can be sustained as seen in FHS follow up, and how an initiative can be diluted through lack of follow up as seen at MHS The continual presence in classrooms of admini strators at both schools is in keeping with recommendations in the literature. To support a focus on best practices, administrators must monitor instruction (Duke, 2010 ; Torgesen et al., 2007 ). A culture of high expectations utilizes walk throughs to routi nely gather information about what is working and what is not working at all levels as well as principals who are a visible force in their schools and who convey the message that expectation s are high and teachers are held accountable (Weinstein, 2008). As practiced at FHS and MHS classroom walk throughs by the principals were perceived as supportive structures to help
119 teachers incorporate strategies learned in professional development sessions. As Torgesen et al. (2007) stated ct it, then you must inspect it (p. 12). Motivation Even the highest quality professional development will be useless if students are not motivated to become better readers. The administrators and teachers at both schools discussed the problems of expecting adolescents to read increasingly more difficult and less interesting text. In response, a ctions taken by the administrators of these schools include d purchasing high independent reading levels as recommended by Allington ( 2 005a ), the International Reading Association (2002), and Smith and Wilhelm (2002). FHS s Literar y Lunches fulfill ed ( 2005a ) recommendation that teenagers have the opportunity to participate in voluntary reading and book discussions with th (2010) advocacy o f providing positive role models for students from underserved populations, especially in schools in need of turnaround. use of technology through providing books on i Pads was in keeping with the creative use of technology endorsed by Biancarosa and Snow (2006) and Irvin et al. (2007). Both schools instituted rewards programs to provide extrinsic motivation to students, such as gift cards for improvement and celebrations of achievement (Carnine & Grossen, 2008; Weinstein, 2002). Research shows that a l iteracy t eam can be key to Cobb, 2005; Irvin et al., 2007; Ontario Council, 2009; Phillips, 2005; Torgesen et al., 2007; Vogt & Shearer, 2003). FHS support ed an active literacy t eam that coord inated the Literary Luncheons, celebrations, and rewards.
120 Teacher B uy in All faculty members, no matter the subject area, should be e ngaged in teaching reading. L iteracy is a shared responsibility, not just the respon sibility of the reading and English teachers (Duke 2010; Weinstein, 2002). The research suggests that many content area teachers resist integrating reading strategies into their lessons (Alger, 2007; Allington, 2005a ; Bean 2008, Deshler et al., 2004; Irv in et al., 2007; Lenski & Lewis, 2008, Torgesen et al., 2007; Vogt & Shearer, 2003). However, the i nterviews indicated that there wa s very little resistance on the part of subject area teachers at MHS and what little might have existed at FHS was virtuall y eliminated with the advent of PLCs. B y providing staff development, modeling positive behaviors, and providing support for teachers teacher resistance can be reduced (Deshler et al., 2007; Irvin et al. 2007; Tovani, 2004; Vogt & Shearer, 2003). The PLC s at FHS provided these elements and more. PLCs have been shown to support improved reading instruction and self efficacy of teachers (Carnegie Corporation 2009; Duke, 2010; Florida Department of Education 2002; Mullen & Hutinger, 2008; Weinstein, 2002; Zepeda, 2008). Allington ( 2005a ) also p raised PLCs as a way to foster professional conversations and as an avenue toward decentralized decision making. Thi s effect wa s certainly evident at FHS with professional conversations and teacher empowerment being hallmarks of the interviews conducted there. As Irvin et al. (2007) concluded, with a support system such as PLCs, teachers can realize that they are not teaching in isolation, but are part of a team dedicated to the success of each student. Both princip als expressed that, to achieve teacher buy in at their respective
121 be a more effective way to induce more reluctant teachers to embrace the goals of a literacy initia tive and to contribute to the schoolwide effort (Irvin et al. 2007). This is certainly what happened with FHS which began with a small pilot group that grew to encompass almost every department at the school Dr. Richards expressed his plan to fol low the same pattern when he implements PLCs at MHS Both principals also discussed the importance of recruiting and hiring the right personnel and, when all attempts at professional growth fail, replacing those who are unable or unwilling to contribute to the instructional goals of the school (Duke 2010). The fact that the principal and many of the assistant principals at FHS lead their professional dev elopment sessions is commendable Attend ing literacy workshops and becoming literacy leaders by l earnin g alongside the teachers, or ahead of them for those principals w ho are conducting the workshop, are vital responsibilit ies of high school administrators (Fisher et al., 2007; Florida Department of Education, 2002; Mullen & Hutinger, 2008; Phillips, 2005). studied schools with high literacy achievement and determined that the principals of those schools provided material and human resources, visit ed classrooms looking f or reading instruction, allowed release time for teachers to o bserve master teachers, created schedules for maximized litera cy instruction, and facilitated collegial decision making The principals of both FHS and MHS hired talented reading coaches and purchased necessary materials, include d reading stra tegies in their classroom walk throughs, g ave generous release time for peer observations, and crafted schedules that allow ed the most time possible for
122 literacy activities. Additionally, FHS facilitated the collegial decision making advocated by the counc il by implementing PLCs that focus on reading data and instruction. Implications of the Findings The results of this study indicate the importance of fidelity in professional development. The time and money spent to train two entire high school faculties i n the FRI strategies wa s wasted if those strategies fail to become imbedded into instruction. School administrators need to have processes in place to continuously reinforce professional development, reteaching it when necessary, and ensur e that new person nel are given the opportunity to be trained so that the initiative will be sustained. While FHS largely accomplished this, the leadership at MHS allowed the use of the strategies to fade over time. As discussed, MHS had high reading scores and its leader ship did not have as clear a mandate for reading improvement as did FHS leadership. Additionally, sustained success in reading achievement caused the leaders there to expand their capacity for success by adding the STEM academy. Because this academ y is new, it is only natural that it should curre ntly have the (2010) discussed the differentiated leadership that sometimes necessitates one program taking precedence over another : everything is a high priority The leadership s attention to STEM paid divide nds in improved math achievement at MHS and the lesson s tudy initiative encouraged teacher collaboration and reflection. Nonetheless, it is an undesirable, though u nintended, consequence that such an intensive training as FRI go by the wayside S chool leaders need be mindful to prevent professional development, and subsequently time and mone y, to be wasted. Time is increasingly scarce, but time for follow up sessions throughout the scho ol year must be
123 found to ensure implementation of the skills learned in training. Further, principals and other school leaders should be aware that allowing one initiative to fade away will be remembered by faculty, making it more diffi cult to enact future initiatives. Teachers will be wary of investing themselves in an initiative if they feel it is not going to stand the test of time. Moreover al though MHS maintained high reading scores despite the lack of focus on reading strategies, it would bode well for the leadership there and at other high performing schools to carefully monitor their data to ensure that thes e scores do not begin to slip. Duke (2010) cautio ned against complacency in schools that have become used to success. Anot her ite m of attention could be accountability. school leadership is exemplary in spending time in classrooms to encourage accountability However, al though they clearly convey their expectations that reading strategies will be infused into instructio n, approximately 50% of the facul ty did not experience FRI training. Lack of specificity in expectations could eventually lead to a lack of execution in the classroom Without training in the research based reading strategies administrators must be vigila nt to ensure that the strategies are actually being utilized. Studying FHS provides many practical implications as it is a case study in the turnaround process. School culture can be cha nged. Older schools that are at risk for failure can take steps to ef fect a turnaround by examining data, implementing strategies to meet the needs of the students and following up with accountability measures. Leadership is vital to taking these steps. School leaders should look at schools such as FHS that successfully im plemented PLCs as exemplars for achievement.
124 FHS professional development. An initiative, even one that was launched five years ago, can continue to be a vital force in the school if continuously and effectively reinforced. The posters with the ix strategies that appear in the classrooms and hallways of FHS the use of PLCs to target FRI strategies to meet the needs revealed by the data, the periodic retraining, and the fu sion of the Learning Focused model to assist in the ongoing FRI initiative are all wa ys that this initiative was sustained. Other school leaders shoul d take note of how FHS managed to maintain its focus on the FRI strategies. Perhaps the most important im plication of this study of two schools is that leadership must be differentiated. Good leadership for an older school in decline is not th e same as good leadership for a newer, high performing school. Both principals in this study took prudent and appropri and conditions before enacting a leadership plan. important for those charged with prepar ing, selecting, evaluating, and studying school principals be prepared to vary their management according to the situation, but those who prepare them also must include t his in their education programs, and those who hire them must ensure that differentiated leadership is part of the job description. Suggestions f or Future Research This study represented two schools in a single district. Suggestions for future research wo uld include a larger sampling of schools as a means to analyze a broader range of experiences in terms of literacy leadership in high schools. Both schools had undergone intensive FRI training. An examination of leadership tea ms at schools
125 without the adva ntage of participating in FRI might yield a wider range of leadership practices. Middle schools are the crucial bridge between elementary schools which te ach foundational reading skill s and high schools where texts are increasingly technical and difficu lt. Another suggested area for future research is to determine which leadership practices are taking place in middle schools. A longitudinal study is called for to study the l ong ng achievement. Thus far FHS improved from a D school to a B and it would be useful to determine whether they maintain or even surpass this growth. MHS has kept its high reading achievement despite losing focu s o n research based strategies. It would be u seful to see whether they maintain this achievement. A study that span s 3 to 5 years would provide such information Finally, because this study was completely qualitative in nature, adding quantitative data in the form of student test scores, hours spent in professional development, and other metrics is warranted. Limitations of the Study This qualitative study had only nine participants and examined only two schools in one district. The interviewees expressed their own perceptions and the results did not represent the experiences of the entire faculty or other stakeholders. Further, the point in time. The findings of the study are not generalizable to other district s, high schools, or school leaders.
126 Conclusion of the Research Study This double case study did much to illuminate diverse leadership practices in high school rea ding programs. Both schools had high quality, knowledgeable, and effective leaders who ma programs. The principal at FHS was purposefully brought into the school to effect change. A school on the brink of failure, FHS needed transformational leadership and a sharp focus on d ata and basic literacy skills. Conversely, MHS needed to e xpand its capacity for growth. Already performing above average in literacy, the MHS leadership made a decision to expand its offerings and focus on science, technology, engineering and mathem s effectiveness This decision had the unintende d consequence of a waning focus in reading instruction Thus far both schools have demonstrated success in these decisions. FHS reading scores and consequently its over all sc hool grade, improved substantially MHS experienced a surge in its math scor es while its reading scores remained consistent ly good Notably diverse schools require differentiated leadership. Principal preparation programs must produce leaders who have th the knowledge and ability to carry out programs that will meet those needs. High school reading programs must be a priority of these leaders.
127 APPENDIX A INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEW PROTOCOL 1. Please describe the readin g needs of t he students at your school. Which student groups need to improve their reading skills? Which reading strategies are needed to promote improvement? 2. How do you plan to go about improving reading achievement at your school? 3. Please tell me about the professional development activities you experienced for reading improvement at yo ur school during the past year. What is planned for the coming year? a. What percentage of t he school leadership personnel ( e.g., reading co ach, principal, or designee ) h ave attended these reading staff development sessions? b. How has the school leadership promoted the use of research based reading strategies across the school curriculum? 4. Please describe the factors that facilitate the infusion of research based reading ins truction at your school. 5. Please describe the factors that i mpede the infusion of research based reading instruction at your school.
128 APPENDIX B UNIVERSITY OF FLORID A IRB INFORMED CONSE NT FORM Informed Consent Protocol Title: Leadership in Secondary Schoo l Reading Programs Purpose of the research study: based reading strategies, including their knowledge of and perceived role in implementing these strategies. What you will be asked to do in this study: After completing a brief demographic survey via e mail, you will be asked to participate in an interview lasting no longer than 45 minutes. The interview protocol is attached to this informed consent form. Your interview wi ll be conducted at your school at your convenience, after I have received your signed consent. Time required: One 45 minute initial interview and one 45 minute focus group discussion with other interviewees. There will possibly be brief follow up via p hone or e mail if clarification is needed. Risks and benefits: There are no anticipated risks to you as a participant in this interview, nor will there be any direct benefits to you. Compensation: There will be no compensation for participation in th is study. Confidentiality: Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. With your permission, I will tape the interview using a digital voice recorder. Only the researcher will have access to the recording, which she will perso nally transcribe, removing any identifiers during transcription. The recording will then be erased. The transcription of your interview will be sent to you for your approval, giving you the opportunity to clarify and/or revise your responses in writing. Yo ur identity will not be revealed in the final report. Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. You are free to withdraw your consent to participate and may discontinue your participation in the interview at any time without consequence. Whom to contact if you have any questions about this study: Sarah Altier (Researcher) Dr. Linda Behar Horenstein (Faculty supervisor) Distinguished Teaching Scholar and Professor Department of Educational Administration and Policy University of Florida Whom to contact if you have questions about your rights as a research participant in this study: IRB02 Office Box 112250 University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 2250 Agreement: I have read the procedure described abov e. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and I have received a copy of this description. Participant: _________________________________ Date: _____________________ Researcher:_________________________________ Date: _____________________
129 APPENDIX C FOCUS GROUP INTERVIEW PROTOCOL 1. Please comment on the effects that you believe the implementation of professional learning communities have had in promoting reading instruction across the curriculum at your school. 2. What are your plans for fut ure reading professional development? 3. Has participation in this study revealed aspects of your reading program (e.g., strengths, weaknesses, attitudes of colleagues) that were not previously apparent? 4. a Please describe to me the amount and nature of the c ommunication and collaboration that takes place between the reading teachers, the reading coach, and the CAR PD teachers. b How does the school leadership facilitate this communication and collaboration? 5. (for School B only) Without Title I dollars, how ha s the school leadership funded professional learning communities and professional development for reading?
130 APPENDIX D SAMPLE CODE SHEETS School A Research Question 1: How does the school leadership (i.e., principal or designee, assistant p rincipals, reading coach) promote the use of research based reading strategies into instruction at the school? Interview #/page/line THEME: Leadership promotes reading strategies through CONTENT AREA READING Memo 3/1/39 QUOTE: Well, I think schoolwide w work with CAR PD the content area reading professional development MEMO: emphasis on content area reading and CAR PD 3/2/36 whether it be content, vocational, fine arts, when we desig n our essential questions and we design our lesson plans, what are those activities that are going to promote active reading and comprehension that correlates along with that Keep reading in mind when planning content lessons 3/5/12 so we started with 9 th and 10 th grade English I and English II Language Arts and our intensive reading classes and we formed our first PLC Subject area PLCs 3/5/26 and I think we included math, English III and IV, s ome of the social studies I want to say World History and American History. PLCs expand to other subjects/content 3/6/38 reading is the core of all subjects. S content is Reading is essential to learning content 3/17/24 I Reading strategies in content learning 4/1/ 7 our biggest concern is making sure that they can comprehend through content areas Comprehension of content 4/3/35 they infuse reading strategies to the other content areas as well. Reading strategies in content 4/3/45 I feel like all the reading and language arts teachers definitely [use the FRI strategies], and social studies is jumping on board because we have many CAR PD classes now and we have one science CAR PD. CAR PD helps content teachers infuse reading strategies 4/7/20 strategies so that they can figure out what those words mean. And so if I can use Good reading strategies encompass vocabulary across the curriculum
131 1/3/12 So we have quite a few teachers who have the Content Reading Professional Development certification, so we do have that and it is incorporated into our history classes right now and also into one of our science classes for 9 th grade CAR PD 1/3/40 We do it with every subject area and anyone who is a new teacher Orientation in reading strategies for ne w teachers to the school 1/4/8 PD training in July with a reading teacher so we can try CAR PD 1/9/32 We are going to the Content Reading so we can train more people because I PD should supersede the intensive reading class, I feel like if everybody has CAR PD and learns ways they can really, really infuse it into their classroom and everything is just really geared to ju st that subject CAR pD will help reading AND subject area teaching 1/9/37 ays that I can adapt that kind of thing. But for the most part, they do a really good job. I think the staff does a really good job. Content teachers do a good job 2/1/29 then we also have a few sections of students who are receiving intervention in the content area and the teacher has been through the training CAR PD CAR PD 2/1/36 the kids in a reading intervention and a CAR PD class. CAR PD and Intensive reading t ogether From follow up email with FHS reading coach The teachers must have taken the CARPD training to be CARPD teachers. The teachers at our school were offered the training. Teachers tend to take it because it makes them more marketable. Teachers ta ke the CARPD training voluntarily 2/3/44 This year we were able to bring into play our Professional Learning Communities where we met on a regular basis with our content area and that really allowed because it gave them protected time as professionals t o come together and we would look at student data, we would look at professional practices. When they PLCs help common content teachers share effective strategies
132 as brought PRINCIPAL /LEADERSHIP BELIEFS actions to promote reading strategies throughout the school Inter view # / Page/Line QUOTE: MEMO: 3/7/14 the magic of a powerful teacher in front of a room is awesome and we have teachers here that are at such a different level that I j In the power of a good teacher 3/3/11 I think most of our teachers are doing a pretty good job with the pre reading, activating prio r knowledge Believes most teachers are doing prereading activities 3/5/5 Why would anyone teach in isolationism and plan on their own when you can do it together? To me, it just makes more sense. Believes in collaboration 3/5/17 Believes in his teachers 3/5/21 here and I believe that wholeheartedly. Believes in teachers 3/4/41 And if you had told me, especially when we came here five or six years ago, that we would have common assessments in our core classes in 9 th and 10 th grade pretty much across the curricu lum, I Believes school is heading in the right direction 3/8/25 I guess the key is you have to have credibility with the teachers y. Believes principal must have credibility with teachers 3/9/44 Believes there are some non
133 what our school is going to be about. There are some non negotiables. Implemen ting Learning Focused is a non negotiables 3/10/13 My goal is to kind of break away from what they [ the district] mandate because we want to do what we want to do because every school has its own needs, in my opinion. I mean, one of differentiate professional develo pment for teachers and so Believes in differentiated leadership*** use quote 3/11/38 to leader 3/12/12 I need to be in the buildings, I need to be with the students, I need to talk to teachers. You have to be the face of the school. Belie ves a principal has to be with the teachers and students 3/13/25 people want to be encouraged and they want to be thanked and they want to be up lessons every day and nobody knows about it, Believes people want to be actively appreciated 3/13/29 rooms. They r seeing. It took us awhile to get there but now they get it and they appreciate it. So priority. Believes b eing in classrooms validates what teachers are doing 3/14 that stuff is rooted in Vygotsky an d Piaget and how do you you know, what strategies are we teaching kids to be able to take information from short term memory to long term memory and back? What are those encoding and retrieval skills? Back and forth. te 3/17/24 1/10/10 if you ask any teacher whether or not the administrators are informed in rea ding Teachers believe that leaders are
134 know what it means to be a good teacher and also reading strategies is key. informed and behind the reading program 1/10/14 If we just had somebody who was in charge of just the managerial things on good focus and have a vision of where we want to go with the school I think that everyone else does a good job Good quote** leaders model the instructional values of the school 4/8/5 the faculty thinks that Leaders model the instructional values of the school 2/4/37 And receiving training on it and seeing it become imbedded into daily instructional practice are two different ball games. Believes that training nee ds to be actively followed up on 2/9/24 We sat down at the beginning of the year and looked at our calendars for the year and planned those dates when they were going to be so we could schedule around FCAT and of course exams, finals, mid terms, progre good job, I think there was one date that we ended up changing because it was really needing more time and sometimes there will be a sub group out of the re. For example, American History might come to me out of the Social Studies department teachi ng. Nobody wants to lose instructional time. What we kind of talked about know I can save a whole lot more time and be a whole lot more effective if I can take that 15 minutes to pull over and ask for directions rather than continue down this path of the wrong direction or ineffectiveness for additional four days in my cla and those three or four days that I pulled out put me in a more effective position Making the time for professional development/PLCs 2/13/7 our people. You deliver
135 open to it. I always think you can learn something through this training before, I will learn something new that I can use. But build your on one. 2/16/5 That high schools tend to be a lot like shopping mall s people come in and the most with the most resources are the ones who are able to be the most savvy consumers. And then there are a whole lot of people just hanging out, and how do we address that? How do we deal with our consumers who are just hangin g out and get them to be productive consumers? This was quoted from the AP Look up the original 2/20/45 ative, I perceive that as being wise. Our time is validated. I think that comes back to what we talked about when you said tell me about strategies; well, strategies are build your people, and if you build your people to build our students into critical Believes in respecting teacher time and building yo ur people. 9/2/5 The administration values our input and wants us to be an active part of making the decisions at the school. By giving us PLC days to look at the data Mr. Al leto shows that he believes we can make the decisions and I think that shows he respects us as professionals. FOCUS Group 1/7/12 people really loving the school and wanting to take it to a different level. Leadership
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142 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Sarah Ann (Bo oker) Altier was born in Winter Park, Florida and is a fi fth g eneratio n resident of DeLand, Florida. She earned both her Bachelor of Arts in H istory and Master of Education in R eading from Stets on University and then continued on to earn a Specialist degree and a D octorate in Educational L eadership from the Univ ersity of Florida. Sarah married her husband Jeff when they were still undergraduates at Stetson and they have thr ee children. She teaches h istory and is a reading specialist at the same school from which she graduated, DeLand High School H er most ful filling teaching assignment however, was her work in Namibia, Africa, where she taught reading and AIDS awareness to children as well as conducted staff development training with the teach ers at a rural village school. Sarah has traveled to over 40 countr ies, including to Thailand and Vietnam for a Fulbright Hays fellowship and to Australia, where she lived and worked for two years.