Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Joan A. Rhodes, Ph.D.


The present study identifies reading instructional practices used in upper elementary classrooms during the age of high-stakes test accountability and compares reading practices among schools of varying accreditation status and socio-economic status (SES). The current study partially replicates and extends a study conducted by Baumann, Hoffman, Duffy-Hester, and Ro in 2000. The Baumann et al. (2000) study provides a frame of reference to compare instructional practices prior to high stakes testing with those used in the current high stakes testing environment. Third- through fifth-grade teachers in seven school districts in central Virginia were asked to complete an electronic survey. Descriptive statistics from 113 surveys identified current instructional practices, materials used for instruction, and grouping strategies used for reading instruction. Kruskal-Wallis H tests were used to identify differences between groups based upon socio-economic or accreditation statuses. Participating teachers reported using a balanced approach to reading instruction, indicated a desire to develop independent readers, and noted that a considerable amount of time is spent on comprehension instruction. Leveled guided reading books, fiction books, and nonfiction books are used frequently for instruction, but basal readers are used infrequently. Ability-based groups were reported as a primary grouping structure, but many teachers indicated they also use whole-class mini-lessons. Schools with higher percentages of students receiving free and reduced lunch, Title 1 status, and those that have not met accreditation benchmarks are more likely to spend time on vocabulary instruction. Title 1 schools are also more likely to use test preparation materials and twelve additional classroom resources, such as general reading skill workbooks, phonics workbooks, and commercial classroom libraries. While most teachers felt pressure to modify instruction to match assessments, no differences in the degree of pressure felt were found based upon either measure of SES or accreditation status.


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