Date of Award

Fall 12-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

Committee Chair

Dr. Rose Jones

Committee Chair Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

Committee Member 2

Dr. James T. Johnson

Committee Member 3

Dr. Kelley Stricklin

Committee Member 3 Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

Committee Member 4

Dr. Hani Morgan

Committee Member 4 Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

Committee Member 5

Dr. Ellen Ramp

Committee Member 5 Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

Abstract

According to the International Reading Association, becoming a successful citizen in one’s career and personal life requires the use of literacy skills (International Reading Association, 1999). However, students in the United States have scored low on the literacy portions of the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the ACT prompting the National Governor’s Association to author a set of standards with a goal of providing students a balance between narrative and informational text (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010). Scores were below the national average in the southeastern region of the United States, most notably, Mississippi. Students in fourth grade were assessed using a 50% balance of literary and informational text and questions to support each. These results correlate with research that suggests not only are students reading less complex texts, the amount of informational text students in K-8 schools interact with comprises of only7-15% of the overall reading demands (Yopp &Yopp, 2006). These circumstances have set students up for failure when they enter college. Implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will bring a collaborative effort among teachers across all contents to instruct reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language. By fourth grade students should be interacting with a 50% balance of literary and informational text. While there has been much controversy over the implementation of the CCSS in Mississippi, supported primarily by Senators Michael Watson and Chris McDaniel, the new Mississippi State Department Superintendent, Carey Wright, is committed to continuing implementation of the standards. As full implementation is approaching during the 2014-2015 school year, it is important that Mississippi’s teachers are prepared to teach students utilizing informational text in the primary grades where there has been an imbalance in the past. The purpose of this study was to examine the types of and amount of professional development opportunities that have been offered to teachers over the past twelve months and decide whether there was a correlation between current trainings and teachers’ efficacy when using informational text in the elementary classroom. Results indicated that a large portion of elementary teachers in Mississippi are not receiving any professional development on the topic of teaching informational text to elementary students. Of the few teachers who reported attending professional development on the topic, the amount of time spent was insufficient to properly train them in the instructional strategies and student engagement methods needed to successfully instruct students in this area.

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