A comparison of schools: teacher knowledge of explicit code-based reading instruction

Abstract

One-hundred-fourteen kindergarten through third-grade teachers from seven different schools were surveyed using The Survey of Preparedness and Knowledge of Language Structure Related to Teaching Reading to Struggling Students. The purpose was to compare their definitions and application knowledge of language structure, phonics, and other code-based concepts, as well as their perceptions of their own knowledge as operationalized in a scale designed to measure participants’ confidence in their responses. Participants were divided into groups based on their districts’ use or non-use of a scripted, code-based reading program. The code-based reading program group comprised 60 teacher participants, and the no code-based reading program group comprised 54 participants. Multivariate analysis of covariance revealed no significant differences between groups in definitions or application knowledge, once demographic differences were accounted for. Analyses of covariance revealed no significant differences in perceptions of knowledge after accounting for relevant covariates. Multiple regression analyses demonstrated the variance contribution of condition and demographic variables to obtained knowledge to be non-significant, and partial correlation analyses showed only weak, often non-significant correlations between perceived knowledge and obtained knowledge. Overall poor survey performance indicated that the majority of teachers in both conditions did not possess the necessary code-based reading knowledge or application skills to effectively teach struggling readers. The results of this study suggest that the use of a scripted, code-based reading program does not guarantee mastery of language structure, phonics, and other code-based concepts.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Prior to analysis, one potential covariate, attendance of training workshops was excluded, as there was no way to determine the quality or duration of the workshops attended, and the authors believed that the inclusion of this variable as a covariate could potentially compromise analyses.

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Correspondence to Rebecca A. Cohen.

Appendix: Survey of preparedness and knowledge of language structure related to teaching reading to struggling students

Appendix: Survey of preparedness and knowledge of language structure related to teaching reading to struggling students

Thank you for participating in this survey. The survey results are anonymous, and no individuals or schools will be identified. Some of the items will be more difficult than others. It is not expected that you will be able to answer every item correctly; however, please complete all of the items. Please be honest as your responses will have NO impact on your job.

Section 1: General Questions

Where did you receive your teacher preparation training?

What current certificate(s) do you hold?

How prepared did you feel to teach the following to struggling readers after completing your teacher preparation program?

  Not at all prepared Minimally prepared Moderately prepared Well prepared Extremely well prepared
Phonemic awareness      
Phonics      
Fluency (reading rate and accuracy)      
Vocabulary      
Reading comprehension      
Overall, how prepared did you feel to teach reading to struggling readers after completing your teacher preparation program?      

What is the highest degree you have earned (e.g., B.S., B.A., M.A., etc.)?

How many years have you taught?

Have you attended any literacy-related professional development training sessions or workshops such as Orton Gillingham, Wilson Reading System, Reading Recovery etc. which significantly enhanced your ability to teach reading? If so, please list the trainings here.

How prepared did you feel to teach the following to struggling readers after the following experiences?

  Not at all prepared Minimally prepared Moderately prepared Well prepared Extremely well prepared
Undergraduate education course      
Post-degree or graduate school courses, workshops or in-services      
Student Teaching      
On the job experience      
Other: please list      

What are your biggest challenges in regard to teaching struggling readers?

If you could receive any additional training regarding teaching struggling readers, what areas would you like the training to cover?

Section 2: Definitions

  1. 1.

    The writing system of a language is called

    1. a.

      orthography

    2. b.

      phonics

    3. c.

      semantics

    4. d.

      phonology

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  1. 2.

    A reading method that teaches the relationship between the sounds of a language and the letters used to represent them is called:

    1. a.

      directionality

    2. b.

      orthography

    3. c.

      miscue analysis

    4. d.

      phonics

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  1. 3.

    Phonemic awareness is primarily

    1. a.

      the ability to derive meaning from a word

    2. b.

      the ability to recognize and manipulate the individual sounds in spoken language.

    3. c.

      the ability to use sound-symbol (phoneme-grapheme) correspondences to read and spell new words.

    4. d.

      both b and c

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  1. 4.

    A written letter or combination of letters that are used to represent a single speech sound is called a:

    1. a.

      consonant blend

    2. b.

      minimal pair

    3. c.

      grapheme

    4. d.

      syllable

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  1. 5.

    A phoneme is:

    1. a.

      a single letter

    2. b.

      a single speech sound

    3. c.

      a single unit of meaning

    4. d.

      a grapheme

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  1. 6.

    A pronounceable group of letters that contains a vowel sound is a:

    1. a.

      grapheme

    2. b.

      syllable

    3. c.

      digraph

    4. d.

      minimal pair

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  1. 7.

    A morpheme is:

    1. a.

      a single letter

    2. b.

      a single speech sound

    3. c.

      a single unit of meaning

    4. d.

      a word that has several different meanings

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  1. 8.

    What term refers to a combination of 2 or 3 consonants that keep their own sound identity (makes its own sound) when pronounced?

    1. a.

      silent consonant

    2. b.

      consonant digraph

    3. c.

      diphthong

    4. d.

      consonant blend

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  1. 9.

    Two consonant letters that represent a single speech sound are called a:

    1. a.

      minimal pair

    2. b.

      consonant digraph

    3. c.

      silent consonant

    4. d.

      consonant blend

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  1. 10.

    A weak, mid-central vowel sound that occurs in unaccented syllables is a:

    1. a.

      vowel team

    2. b.

      schwa

    3. c.

      glide

    4. d.

      minimal pair

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  1. 11.

    A prefix and a suffix are

    1. a.

      morphemes that are added to a root or base word that may change the word’s part of speech but not its meaning

    2. b.

      free morphemes to which other affixes can be added

    3. c.

      morphemes that cannot stand alone but are used to form a family of words

    4. d.

      morphemes that are added to a root or base word that may change the word’s part of speech and its meaning

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  1. 12.

    The terms onset and rime refer to

    1. a.

      two words that contain different vowel digraphs yet rhyme

    2. b.

      the two parts of a syllable; the initial consonant or consonants, and the vowel and any final consonants

    3. c.

      two consonants joined together in one syllable to produce one sound

    4. d.

      the separate syllables in a two syllable word, as well as the two words that comprise a compound word

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  1. 13.

    Sounds in which the vocal cords are used are called:

    1. a.

      reversals

    2. b.

      variants

    3. c.

      miscues

    4. d.

      voiced

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  1. 14.

    Fill in the blank. ________ primarily helps to support phonics instruction.

    1. a.

      repeated readings

    2. b.

      decodable text

    3. c.

      guided reading

    4. d.

      independent reading

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  1. 15.

    In a word that contains a closed syllable,

    1. a.

      there must be more than one syllable

    2. b.

      there is a “silent e” at the end of the syllable

    3. c.

      the vowel makes a short sound and is followed by a consonant

    4. d.

      there can be more than one vowel but it is closed in by one or more consonants

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  1. 16.

    A diphthong is

    1. a.

      a vowel sound composed of two parts that glide together

    2. b.

      a vowel sound spelled with two different vowels that make one sound

    3. c.

      two consonant letters that represent one speech sound

    4. d.

      a spelling pattern that contains a silent letter

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Section 3: Application

  1. 1.

    How many speech sounds are in the following words?

    1. a.

      eight

    2. b.

      grass

    3. c.

      box

    4. d.

      queen

    5. e.

      brush

    6. f.

      knee

    7. g.

      through

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  1. 2.

    For each of the words determine the number of syllables.

    1. a.

      disassemble

    2. b.

      heaven

    3. c.

      observer

    4. d.

      frogs

    5. e.

      teacher

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  1. 3.

    For each of the words determine the number of morphemes.

    1. a.

      disassemble

    2. b.

      heaven

    3. c.

      observer

    4. d.

      frogs

    5. e.

      teacher

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  1. 4.

    Which word contains a consonant blend?

    1. a.

      push

    2. b.

      look

    3. c.

      straw

    4. d.

      chip

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  1. 5.

    Which of the following words contains a consonant digraph?

    1. a.

      bring

    2. b.

      sleep

    3. c.

      much

    4. d.

      tired

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  1. 6.

    Which word has a schwa (/ә/) sound?

    1. a.

      eagerly

    2. b.

      problem

    3. c.

      formulate

    4. d.

      story

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  1. 7.

    Which of the following words has a prefix and a suffix? You may mark more than one.

    1. a.

      prejudgment

    2. b.

      property

    3. c.

      teaching

    4. d.

      salamander

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  1. 8.

    Which has correctly separated the word “strand” into the onset and the rime?

    1. a.

      stra….nd

    2. b.

      str….and

    3. c.

      st….rand

    4. d.

      “strand” does not contain an onset or rime.

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  1. 9.

    Identify the pair of voiced and unvoiced consonant sounds.

    1. a.

      /b//p/

    2. b.

      /d//g/

    3. c.

      /f//s/

    4. d.

      /n//m/

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  1. 10.

    Which sentence is an example of decodable text?

    1. a.

      The bear snatched the meat away from the trainer.

    2. b.

      She watched the slippery, slimy, slugs slink by.

    3. c.

      The fat cat sat on the mat.

    4. d.

      The car was found down the road in the snow.

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  1. 11.

    An example of a word with a closed syllable would be:

    1. a.

      keep

    2. b.

      clothes

    3. c.

      limit

    4. d.

      heard

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  1. 12.

    Which of the following words contains a diphthong?

    1. a.

      drip

    2. b.

      battle

    3. c.

      shut

    4. d.

      boy

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  1. 13.

    Which pair of words contains the same underlined sound?

    1. a.

      intend…baked

    2. b.

      weight…height

    3. c.

      was…votes

    4. d.

      push…pump

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  1. 14.

    Which pair of words begins with the same sound?

    1. a.

      joke-goat

    2. b.

      chef-shoe

    3. c.

      quiet-giant

    4. d.

      chip-chemist

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Cohen, R.A., Mather, N., Schneider, D.A. et al. A comparison of schools: teacher knowledge of explicit code-based reading instruction. Read Writ 30, 653–690 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-016-9694-0

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Keywords

  • Teacher knowledge
  • Reading
  • Teacher preparation
  • Code-based reading programs