Stephens, D., Morgan, D., Donnelly, A., DeFord, D., Young, J., Seaman, M., Crowder, K., Hamel, E., & Cibic, R. The South Carolina Reading Initiative: NCTE's Reading Initiative as a Statewide Staff Development Project

Author: Stephens, D., Morgan, D., Donnelly, A., DeFord, D., Young, J., Seaman, M., Crowder, K., Hamel, E., & Cibic R.



The South Carolina Reading Initiative began, as a systematic commitment on the part of the South Carolina State Legislature to improve literacy education for K-5 children. It was a collaborative effort involving not only the state legislature but also the State Department of Education, the National Council of Teachers of English, K-5 and university faculties. Now, eight years later, SCRI has expanded to include middle and high schools across the state. SCRI K-5 is now funded by schools districts, using a combination of federal and state (lottery) monies. SCRI Middle Level and SCRI High School are funded by the state legislature. The University of South Carolina received federal funding to study the impact of the original SCRI K-5 cohort. This is the final report from the research study.

The students who benefited most from SCRI were the struggling first and third graders who remained in classrooms of teachers in the initiative for the duration of the professional development. The children identified as low readers in year one who remained in SCRI classrooms (in SCRI schools) for three years read at higher text levels than did their low peers who had not been in SCRI classrooms (in SCRI schools). The struggling readers in SCRI had 5.14 years of reading growth across three years as compared to 2.18 years of growth for struggling readers who were in non-SCRI classrooms for three years. Students' progress was measured based on their oral reading of leveled texts.

In order to control for cross-classroom spread of ideas in SCRI schools, the researcher team studied children’s progress in matched schools without SCRI. They identified 55 fifth grade students who had been in SCRI classrooms in SCRI schools for three years and matched them (using initial English Language Arts scores on the state proficiency test at the end of the first year of SCRI in 2001, along with ethnicity, gender, and SES) with 55 fifth grade students who had been in non-SCRI classrooms in non-SCRI schools for three years. Fifth graders in SCRI classrooms who had been labeled as struggling readers in third grade (N=30) scored higher on the English Language Arts portion of the state proficiency test than did matched children (N=30) from non-SCRI schools. Pre and post demographic data showed that the percentage of students needing an IEP in third grade was cut in half for the same children in SCRI classrooms as fifth graders (from 11 to 6, or 20% to 10.9%). The percentage of non-SCRI students needing an IEP in third grade remained the same for the same students as fifth graders in non-SCRI classrooms (from 11 to 11, or 20% to 20%)

This is a complex study well worth reading both for the professional development plan and for the results of the study. There are further measures of changes in teachers' beliefs about reading and case studies.

Date Added: 04/26/2008



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