Students at High School A are lacking the skills that they need in order to be proficient in literacy (reading, in particular). For the past six years, the school has failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in reading, despite participation in an intensive, three-year literacy initiative, which included meeting regularly with a consultant and implementing reading interventions. Though many students are able to decode grade-level words, they often struggle with comprehension and higher-level thinking questions related to the text, according to the results of the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) assessment.
Deficient reading skills at the secondary level is not an issue that is specific to High School A. According to Calhoon, Sandow, and Hunter (2010), this is a nation-wide crisis. They claim that “70% of our nation’s adolescents require some form of remedial reading instruction” (p. 58). Additionally, 40% of special education placements are for reading disabilities (Pearce, 2009, p. 419). At High School A, students who receive Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions (including students who receive special education services) make up the largest percentage of students who do not score in the “proficient” range on state-mandated assessments. One question that arises as a result of this issue is “How can comprehension skills for Tier 1 and Tier 2 students be improved?”
Public and Archival Data
Public and archival data that were available for analysis included five years of NWEA scores (administered to freshmen and sophomores) and four years of Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores (administered to juniors). SAT score reports are available to the public, and are reported in both the local newspaper, and in written reports to parents. Specific reports about individual students are available to teachers, parents, and students. Similarly, NWEA data is made available only to teachers, students, and parents.
Methods and Rationale for Data Collection
By collecting and analyzing SAT and NWEA score reports, the researcher is able to look at school-wide trends, as well as individual student progress in reading. This provides the foundation for a learning plan, as well as a reference point for post-intervention comparison.
SAT data was collected by reading public reports that documented school-wide progress, as well as by attaining lists of individual students’ scores. NWEA data was supplied to the researcher by the principal of High School A, and is available to all teachers at the school.
Summary of Data Analysis
Both NWEA and SAT scores indicated that the mean scores were below the proficient level in reading. Though fewer than 40% of students scored below the state-selected “proficient” range on the SAT, the mean score for reading has slowly and consistently risen over the past three years. Analysis of the NWEA scores indicated that students’ individual progress in reading has been fairly inconsistent. Students...