Forum 11: NRC 08 Study Grp-Marsh et al, Supporting Literacy Across the Sunshine State

Nancy Shanklin, Sun October 26, 2008, 10:21 PM MDT

Below is the link to this large-scale study of coaching in Florida Middle Schools.  The study results were just released by RAND in September.  It seems important for us to know about this study especially given that NRC 08 is in Orlando!  You may have read about the study in Ed Week.  If nothing else, you will want to open the link and read the executive summary.

http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND_MG762.pdf



Comments

Meghann Voigtritter , Sun March 15, 2009, 05:51 PM MDT -

This study is so compelling to me. As I've mentioned in other forums, I would love to get my hands on more research about reading specialism in middle and high schools. How wonderful that these researchers see the importance of having more research in this area. After all, how can we prove that what we're doing works if there is little to no research to back it up? This line grabbed my attention: "Some administrators voiced concerns about a shortage of qualified candidates, turnover among coaches, and principals’ ability to adequately judge the quality of coach candidates (due to a lack of background in reading)." I think this definitely makes a case for more reading specialist graduate programs. In regards to a principal's difficulty in choosing proper candidates, it might be helpful if a reading specialist sat on the interview panel. If a reading specialist isn't available, what about a reading professor from the local university? I know the professors in my particular program care about the craft of reading specialism so much, and I think any one of them would volunteer to help public schools hire quality reading specialists.

Meghann Voigtritter , Sun March 15, 2009, 05:59 PM MDT -

In reviewing the summary, another line caught my attention: "Several coaches reported intentions to leave their position because of rules stating that National Board teachers earn their board supplement only when working directly with students the majority of their time." I am not familiar with "board supplements," but I am assuming that it is a sum of money promised to teachers in the district (please correct me if I am wrong). It's frustrating that our educational/political community still has not learned how to treat support staff with fairness and respect. Reading specialists are essential for the growth of many students, and they should be compensated as such. This just deepens the need for more research in this area. If we have proof that reading specialists are needed for the success of students, then maybe they will receive the compensation they deserve, rather than getting what's promised to them taken away.

Celina Register , Sun March 15, 2009, 06:44 PM MDT - Middle School Support
In this report, sources indicate that coaches spend a greater amount of time coaching reading teachers, new teachers and teachers that need support. In most of a middle schoolers day is spent in reading in different content areas. And in my experience may content area teachers have not been taught reading strategies that would help facilitate content knowledge. It seems then that the content area teachers should have the most support. They should be taught about graphic organizers and QAR. It’s the content teachers that need to understand how to teach using leveled questions such as Bloom’s Taxonomy. They need the support more than a reading teacher, who has probably already had training in how to teach students how to read.
Wendy Jacob , Mon April 13, 2009, 06:03 PM MDT - Teacher, Coach Relations

The mere fact that other research studies have left a sense that teacher, coach relations are sometimes strain, and now this study recommend that district and school leaders should “Address barriers to enable coaches to work more with teachers...,” tells me that teacher, coach relations could be viewed as a red flag needing organization attention and support. This idea of teacher, coach relationship I intend to research myself. From my personal experience as a teacher seeing coaches at work, I must agree there are some setbacks for coaches trying to network with teachers and sometimes even administrators. In many school districts and especially areas of California, teachers have, in the past, received negative reports from coaches assigned by administrators. The effect is still viewed as negative even for newly trained coaches today. Additionally, In other parts of the country where coaching seem widely accepted, studies show, coaches are struggling to do their job effectively. Perhaps, and feel free to correct me if I am wrong, this attitude toward coaches in some instances is because coaches are given too many hats to wear and most often teachers themselves do not understand the role of the coach as it relates to their individual and student needs. As a result, although literacy coaching has shown some success with student achievement in elementary schools, I agree middle and secondary schools who are, in many instances, using the elementary coaching model, must ask questions such as “1. How is the...program being implemented by the state, districts, schools and coaches?” and “2. What features of models and practices... are associated with better outcomes?” to improve their programs and their student needs. With those questions in mind, I believe administrators and school officials should be more aware of the work they must do to make a coach’s job meaningful, desirable, and respected in any school’s community.

Shawna from TE 633 , Sun April 19, 2009, 11:46 PM MDT - A wondersul case sudy
This was an interesting study that evaluated the performance and impact of middle school reading specialists in Florida. I was astounded at the data from this study because it confirmed the many issues and concerns administrators, teachers, and literacy coaches often encounter. For instance, some administrators felt that there were not enough qualified specialists, whereas the reading specialists felt that their time was not appreciated. The researchers found that coaches spent less time supporting content teachers in areas other than reading. Furthermore, approximately one-third of reading specialists found that teachers were reluctant to work with them. I can completely understand reading specialists feeling that uncooperative teachers hinder their work because I see that many times at schools and hear about it from my colleagues. Some teachers think that the literacy coach is observing them to critique their teaching style and report them to the principal. I feel that many teachers are misinformed about the job of the reading specialist/literacy coach. One aspect of the reading specialist’s job is to support teachers and provide them with positive feedback to make sure their students’ needs are being met. As a future reading specialist, the first task I plan to do is meet with my colleagues and tell them my exact job description, inform them about ways I will support them, and give them opportunities to voice questions/concerns. This was a great article! I would like to read more like it!
Michelle Herrera , Tue April 28, 2009, 10:49 PM MDT - Literacy Coaches Vs. Professional Developments
This article presents interesting research supporting the importance of literacy coaches in schools. It could be argued (by teachers and administrators) that there are already professional development opportunities provided through staff development days and in-services. However, an interesting point made in this research is that less than 15% of teachers actually implement the strategies they learn in professional developments. This is a powerful point because the money districts spend on those professional developments and the time teachers spend attending them is wasted. Money would be better spent on literacy coaches and teacher’s time would be better served with more individualized attention and guidance that coaches could provide. The study further explains that the reason teachers don’t implement the strategies is due to a lack of support and feedback. These reasons are arguments for having literacy coaches on staff! The feedback literacy coaches provide is invaluable and incredibly supportive- I wish all administrators would read this study before deciding how to spend professional development funds.

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