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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Quantitative Evaluation of an Ability-Grouped Literacy Program in the Elementary Grades
by Portales Blair, Lidiana, Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2017, 136; 10285661
Abstract (Summary)

National assessments have shown that the majority of students in the United States cannot read at grade level by fourth grade. These results are alarming because students who are not proficient readers by third grade suffer long-term consequences and are more likely to drop out of high school. Feeling pressure to improve reading outcomes, schools have responded by implementing a wide range of interventions. One approach is ability grouping, a system in which students of similar ability levels are grouped together for instruction.

This study consisted of a quantitative program evaluation of a literacy program designed to accelerate reading achievement. The literacy program placed students reading below grade level into ability-grouped classrooms with reduced class sizes. Quantitative analyses were conducted on secondary student assessment data. First, the performance of students in the literacy program was compared against the performance of a pair-matched group of their peers not in the literacy program via an independent-samples t test. Then, the students’ performance during the literacy program was compared to their performance in the previous school year via a dependent-samples t test. Finally, a chi-square test of independence was conducted for disproportionality of student subgroups.

The program evaluation found that, when students in the literacy program were compared to the pair-matched comparison group, the literacy program either had no effect or small, but statistically significant, negative effects. In contrast, the literacy program had positive effects when students in the literacy program were compared to their own prior performance. However, post-hoc analyses showed that all students, regardless of instructional placement, experienced significant growth during the same period. Therefore, it was not possible to attribute the growth to the literacy program. Finally, results showed that English learner students and students in special education were overrepresented in the literacy program. The study concluded that the literacy program was not substantively effective. The findings suggest that ability grouping did not improve student outcomes, concurring with existing literature. This conclusion, combined with potential implications for students, urges school leaders to reexamine ability grouping interventions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Richards-Tutor, Cara
Commitee: Hsieh, Betina, Myers-Miller, Damita
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 78/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational evaluation, Elementary education, Literacy, Reading instruction
Keywords: Ability grouping, Elementary, Homogeneous grouping, Intervention, Reading, Small class size
Publication Number: 10285661
ISBN: 978-0-355-06853-5
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