Curriculum Report Roundup

Teacher Training in Reading Found to Have Mixed Effect

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — September 30, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Two professional-development approaches based on a popular early reading program increased teachers’ knowledge of literacy development and their use of explicit reading instruction, but had little effect on achievement among 2nd graders in high-poverty schools, a federal study has found.

The study, by the Washington-based American Institutes of Research, was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education to help districts decide how best to use some of the nearly $600 million in federal funding for professional development under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The study involved 270 2nd grade teachers in 90 schools in six urban districts in the 2005-06 school year. Schools in each district were randomly assigned to one of three groups.

One group attended an eight-day seminar based on the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling, or LETRS, program, which is designed to build teachers’ foundational knowledge of literacy concepts, research, and effective instruction.

A second group also attended the seminar, but received 60 more hours of coaching from the Consortium on Reading Excellence, a consulting group based in Berkeley, Calif.

A third group did not receive the training, but participated in the districts’ regular professional development.

The interventions were offered to 2nd grade teachers because schools already had a way to assess students’ progress at that grade level, according to Michael S. Garet, AIR’s lead researcher for the study.

The creator of LETRS, however, said that introducing the training at the 2nd grade level misses the critical period in students’ literacy development. The study, she said, also failed to consider the multiple factors—from school leadership to sound instructional materials and assessments—that are necessary for raising student achievement. She said it is unclear whether those factors were in place in the districts studied.

Developer Questions Findings

“If you want to set yourself up for having no impact, target the 2nd or 3rd graders without doing the groundwork with these kids in kindergarten and 1st grade,” said Louisa Moats, a prominent reading researcher who developed LETRS. “Initiatives that are well-formulated and well-conceived include professional development as one aspect of a number of things that need to be in place in order for these changes and hoped-for outcomes to be realized. I never make the claim that LETRS training alone is going to somehow have a magical impact on what people do.”

Mr. Garet agrees that the conditions were not always ideal, but that they were typical of the challenges faced by high-need schools. “There were many things that worked despite the conditions,” he said. “So there’s reason to believe that with more attention to some of the features of professional development, one could translate the effects on teacher knowledge and practice into effects on achievement.”

A version of this article appeared in the October 01, 2008 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Your Questions on the Science of Reading, Answered
Dive into the Science of Reading with K-12 leaders. Discover strategies, policy insights, and more in our webinar.
Content provided by Otus
Mathematics Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Breaking the Cycle: How Districts are Turning around Dismal Math Scores
Math myth: Students just aren't good at it? Join us & learn how districts are boosting math scores.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Curriculum Video VIDEO: What AP African American Studies Looks Like in Practice
The AP African American studies course has sparked national debate since the pilot kicked off in 2022. A look inside the classroom.
Ahenewa El-Amin leads a conversation with students during her AP African American Studies class at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Ky., on March 19, 2024.
Ahenewa El-Amin leads a conversation with students during her AP African American Studies class at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Ky., on March 19, 2024.
Jaclyn Borowski/Education Week
Curriculum Anti-Critical-Race-Theory Laws Are Slowing Down. Here Are 3 Things to Know
After a wave of bills limiting class discussions on race and gender, an Education Week analysis shows the policies have slowed.
5 min read
A man holds up a sign during a protest against Critical Race Theory outside a Washoe County School District board meeting on May 25, 2021, in Reno, Nev.
A man holds up a sign during a protest against critical race theory outside a Washoe County School District board meeting on May 25, 2021, in Reno, Nev. This year, the numbers of bills being proposed to restrict what schools can teach and discuss about race and racism have slowed down from prior years.
Andy Barron/Reno Gazette-Journal via AP
Curriculum History Group Finds Little Evidence of K-12 'Indoctrination'
Most social science educators say they keep politics out of the classroom, but need help identifying good curriculum resources
6 min read
Photo of U.S. flag in classroom.
iStock / Getty Images Plus
Curriculum How an International Baccalaureate Education Cuts Through the ‘Noise’ on Banned Topics
IB programs offer students college credit in high school and advanced learning environments.
9 min read
James Minor teaches his IB Language and Literature class at Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla., on Jan. 23, 2024.
James Minor teaches his IB Language and Literature class at Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla., on Jan. 23, 2024.
Zack Wittman for Education Week