Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Jane Applegate, Ph.D.

Keywords

Adolescent literacy, Ohio state teacher efficacy scale, Hierarchical linear modeling, Confirmatory factor analysis, Standardized testing

Abstract

More than 8 million of America's middle and high school students are struggling readers. Two-thirds of all eighth graders read below grade level, and the reading scores of high school students have not improved since 1974. Low literacy levels affect learning in all subject areas and impede student opportunity for future success. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the accountability measures associated with the Act have heightened public awareness of the deficiency in adolescent literacy. School districts are choosing to respond in one of two ways. Some school districts are opting to invest in teacher-proof curricula that negate the effect of the teacher. Other districts are opting to invest in the professional development of their teachers.

The goal of this study was to support district efforts to provide strategic professional development opportunities for teachers by investigating the effects of teacher efficacy for instructional strategies, classroom management and student engagement on ninth and tenth grade students' reading achievement. Teachers with high efficacy were hypothesized to impact students' reading gains positively. Student contextual variables of prior achievement, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and grade were controlled for in the study. The participants included 2,061 students in 23 classrooms taught by 110 teachers in two school districts on the west coast of Florida. The results indicated that there was no statistically significant relationship between teacher efficacy and student reading achievement gains. The only variables of statistical significance were race (white vs. Non-white) and grade.

As more researchers use the findings and recommendations from this study to inform new investigations of the complex relationship between teacher efficacy and student achievement in reading, teacher educators, policymakers, teachers and administrators will be better informed as they continue to work towards improving the reading achievement scores of and narrowing the achievement gaps in adolescent literacy.

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