Direct instruction and language arts curriculum: Perceptions of teachers in Title I schools

Virginia Moore Young

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine teacher perceptions of the Direct Instruction (DI) reading and language curriculum. Specifically, the areas of student achievement, teacher application of the curriculum in the classroom and the training and support that teachers received in order to teach the programs were the focus of the study. Quantitative and qualitative measures were collected. The participants in the study were teachers in Title I schools of one district in a southeastern state in the United States. The district was included because the schools used the DI reading and language curriculum as their main curriculum to teach reading. The Direct Instruction Survey (DIS) was developed by the researcher to obtain the perceptions of teachers on student achievement, the DI reading and language curriculum, teacher application of the DI reading and language curriculum, and the training and support that teachers received in order to teach these programs. Teachers were asked to respond to various statements regarding the DI reading and language curriculum. The DIS also asked teachers to list the instructional strategies that they use during a DI reading and language lesson. The last question of the DIS asked teachers to comment on whether they felt that the DI reading and language curriculum or another source was most responsible for their school's success or lack of success on the state's yearly assessments. The quantitative results revealed that teachers had positive overall perceptions of the DI reading curriculum. They responded that student achievement, reading comprehension and overall reading ability had increased since the implementation of the DI reading and language curriculum. Teachers reported that they strongly agreed that the DI reading curriculum was an effective way to teach children the basics in reading. Teachers viewed their DI training and support as very helpful and adequate. In this particular district, the building level DI coaches are doing very well in the area of training and support of teachers. Even though the results were positive for DI, the qualitative results revealed that the DI curriculum did not sufficiently address the state's benchmarks. Many teachers expressed that the focus on the benchmarks is what really helped to improve their school's test scores. Teachers also expressed that no program or curriculum could be successful without the dedication and hard work of committed teachers. Teachers revealed strong opposition for the DI language programs. Many teachers responded that the language programs are ineffective and in no way addresses the state's benchmarks. Two additional instructional strategies were revealed that are used by DI teachers in their classrooms. They are individual instruction and questioning techniques. This study revealed interesting information for one school district regarding its DI reading and language curriculum.