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Using Reader's Theater to Increase Third Graders' Reading Fluency, Comprehension, and Motivation

by Katherine Callard

A Proposal Submitted to the Fischler School of Education and Human Services in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education

Nova Southeastern University 2008

Abstract Using Reader's Theater to Increase Third Graders' Reading Fluency, Comprehension, and Motivation. Callard, Katherine, 2008: Proposal, Nova Southeastern University, Fischler School of Education and Human Services. Databases/ Comprehension/Fluency/ Reader's Theater / Reading/ Reading Motivation Improving students' reading fluency and comprehension is a major challenge faced in many classrooms. Reading fluency has been identified as a key goal for the elementary school reading curriculum as research links the reciprocal relationship between fluency and comprehension. Despite the academic importance of reading fluency in reading development and all the research that has demonstrated its effectiveness in improving reading performance, many teachers are not familiar with effective methods of instruction for improving fluency and ways for integrating reading fluency within the classroom reading curriculum. Several research studies indicated that an effective tool for building reading fluency is through Reader's Theater. The purpose of this study is to determine if Reader's Theater will increase reading fluency, comprehension, and motivation in at-risk third grade students. The research questions that will be addressed throughout the implementation of the study will be (a) to what extent does Reader's Theater influence the reading fluency of third grade students? (b) To what extent does Reader's Theater influence reading comprehension in third grade students? (c) To what extent does Reader's Theater significantly improve motivation to read in third grade students? In this study, a quasi-experimental pretest-posttest, experimental-control-group design will be used to determine the effect of a Reader's Theater intervention on the fluency, comprehension, and motivation of students who do not meet state reading standards. The data collected will consist of DIBELS oral reading fluency scores, STAR reading comprehension scores, and results from a Reading Motivation Survey administered to all third grade students at the school site and used as the baseline. The experimental and control groups will each consist of 10 students and the Reader's Theater intervention will be conducted for 10 weeks. Data will be collected and analyzed after the conclusion of the Reader's Theater intervention.


Table of Contents Page Chapter 1: Introduction ........................................................................................................1 Introduction.................................................................................................................1 Nature of the problem .................................................................................................2 Background and Significance of the Problem ............................................................4 Setting .........................................................................................................................5 Research Questions.....................................................................................................9 Definition of Terms ....................................................................................................9 Chapter 2: Review of Related Literature ...........................................................................12 Introduction...............................................................................................................12 Reading Acquisition .................................................................................................13 Reading Fluency .......................................................................................................16 Function of Reading Fluency....................................................................................18 Fluency Development ...............................................................................................19 Fluency Instruction ...................................................................................................20 Oral Reading Fluency and Comprehension ..............................................................23 Motivation and Reading............................................................................................25 Approaches to Building Motivation .........................................................................27 Reader's Theater .......................................................................................................28 Summary...................................................................................................................31 Chapter 3: Methodology ....................................................................................................33 Introduction...............................................................................................................33 Participants................................................................................................................33 Instruments................................................................................................................34 Procedures.................................................................................................................37 Limitations ................................................................................................................40 References..........................................................................................................................42 Appendixes A Permission to use Motivation Profile.............................................................47 B Motivation Profile ..........................................................................................49



Chapter 1: Introduction Introduction The goal of reading is to communicate thoughts and ideas through written language. Educators, parents, employers, and politicians continue to express concern over the poor reading skills demonstrated by high school graduates. Although researchers pursue the root of reading disabilities and effective reading methods, concern is still expressed by teachers in the upper grades that many students cannot read at their instructional grade level. Several reading interventions and methods for remediation have been designed and implemented to increase reading fluency and comprehension. As a result of these interventions, some students who struggle to learn to read are able to accurately decode the text, but fail to reach a level of sufficient fluency to become fast and proficient readers. Thus, the development of techniques for improving automaticity and fluency is critical. Proficient reading is necessary for success in a global society. Having the ability to read is highly valued and important for both social and economic advancement. The goal for educators is to have students reading adequately by the third grade. According to Carter (2000), reading is both a skill and a behavior. Reading is a combination of knowing how to read and the desire to do so. Children must be taught the skills that will allow them to read and to read with acuity. Children must not only have the ability to decode words or select the main idea from a passage, but they also must develop the reading behavior that makes them lifelong readers. Children who read well and who read often are usually successful in school and beyond. Stanovich's (2000) research on reading development has emphasized that good readers are more likely to read more often which enables them to become even better


readers. Stanovich described this as the Matthew Effects Theory, whereas the "rich get richer" as a result of reading well and often. Stanovich's theory emphasized the power of motivation and affect towards students' reading achievement. In order to teach reading effectively, teachers within the classroom must provide an environment that not only develops fluent reading skills, but also sparks a strong desire and motivation to read among all students in the classroom. Reading is the cornerstone of society, and it is the building block of all instruction. To be good students and good members of society, students must know how to read and teachers must be committed to doing whatever they can to help students achieve reading mastery. Nature of the Problem The problem this proposal will address will involve third grade students who fail to demonstrate reading fluency and comprehension. The National Center for Educational Statistics (2006) reported that 38 % of our nation's 9-year-olds are reading below basic grade level. These results indicate that those students are unable to read and understand age appropriate written text or make reasonable inferences from what they have read in the text. Whitehurst (2007) indicated that children who are having reading difficulties in the fourth grade are going to continue to have real difficulties as they progress through school unless they receive intervention. Reading also affects comprehension in other subjects such as math, science, social studies and even written language. Difficulties in reading will affect students' potential for future life success, increase the likelihood that they will drop out of school, and even hinder them in competing for and getting a good job. The Learning First Alliance (1998) stated that the overwhelming reason students are retained, assigned to special education, or given long term remedial services is due to difficulty in reading. The No Child Left Behind Act of


2001 mandates all students must be reading at grade level by the 2013-2014 school year. Under No Child Left Behind, each state has developed and implemented measurements for determining whether its schools and local educational agencies are making adequate yearly progress (AYP). AYP is an individual state's measure of progress toward the goal of 100% of students achieving to state academic standards in at least reading/language arts and math. It sets the minimum level of proficiency that the state, its school districts, and schools must achieve each year on annual tests and related academic indicators (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). Burns, Griffin, and Snow (1999) noted that research contends that children who get off to a good start in reading in the early years rarely stumble; however, those that fall behind tend to stay behind for the rest of their academic lives. When significant numbers of children in school cannot read at grade level year after year, the difficulties may stem from a flawed curriculum or delivery. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2001) reported that direct fluency instruction should be a key component for effective reading instruction. Fluent readers can therefore devote their cognitive energy in the comprehension of the text because they have the ability to read words accurately and effortlessly. Torgesen (2005) reported that it is very important to get off to a strong start in learning to read during early elementary school and that reading fluency measures have high predictive value for identifying students who are likely to struggle on formal measures of reading comprehension and achievement. Torgesen also noted that reading interventions that focus directly on increasing oral reading fluency are likely to have an impact on students' performance on broad comprehension measures.


The National Reading Panel (2000) stated that children who do not develop reading fluency, no matter how intelligent they are, will continue to read slowly and with great effort. On the basis of its findings, the Panel therefore urged that classroom teachers find ways to engage their students in guided oral reading on a regular basis. Background and Significance of the Problem Over the past several decades, researchers have made great strides toward understanding the nature of reading acquisition. Results from numerous empirical studies have concluded that with proper instruction and appropriate activities and support, every child can learn to read (Chard, Vaughn, & Taylor, 2002; Kuhn, 2005; Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; NICHHD, 2001; Rasinski, 2004; Therrien & Kubina, 2006). Yet, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) continues to find that as many as 40% of our nation's fourth-graders read too poorly to understand or learn from grade-level texts; in high poverty neighborhoods, this statistic rises above 60% (The National Center for Educational Statistics, 2006). The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP, 2002) conducted an oral reading study to evaluate fourth graders' oral reading ability. Through observation of students reading orally, a thorough assessment was made of how students were in fact reading. The results of the study showed that oral reading fluency was highly correlated with reading comprehension (NAEP). In summary, the study found that the most fluent readers were the ones who comprehended what they read and made the highest scores on the NAEP performance test. This conclusion was also supported by the empirical review conducted by Fuchs, Fuchs, Hosp, and Jenkins (2001), who reported that "oral reading fluency may function as an overall indicator of reading expertise and development" (p. 250).


Numerous other studies have provided further confirmation of the relationship between fluency and comprehension, (Mokhtari & Thompson, 2006; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2001; Spear-Swerling, 2006; Walczyk & Griffith-Ross, 2007; Wood, 2006), which appear to be reciprocal in nature when reading connected text. The studies point out that improved reading fluency leads to improved comprehension and improved comprehension leads to improved reading fluency (Jenkins, Fuchs, van den Broek, Espin, & Deno, 2003). Setting The school district in which the study will be conducted is the ninth largest in the state and is one of the nation's 50 largest districts with a student population of nearly 80,000. According to the Florida Department of Education (2008), 22% of third grade students at the elementary school that will be the setting of this study scored below state standards on the 2007 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), while 36% of those third graders scored from moderate to high risk on the 2008 Diagnostic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills Test (DIBELS). The district is overseen by a Superintendent of Schools and five board members elected through a district wide vote of the people. Board Members serve 4-year terms on a staggered basis and reside in one of the five districts from which they are voted. Members annually elect their Chairman and Vice Chairman. The district is made up of 43 elementary schools, 17 middle schools, 13 high schools, four prekindergarten through Grade 8 schools, 13 special centers, three high tech centers, and 20 charter schools, for a total of 113 schools. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires school districts to notify parents regarding their status in meeting student performance standards known as adequate


yearly progress (AYP). Currently, this school district has not met 21% of the criteria. The district has been identified by the state as being in "corrective action" until 100% of the criteria has been achieved. The setting of this study in this district will be a suburban elementary school, located in the Southern United States. The school consists of preschool through 5th grade, with a total population of 675 students. The student population is made up of 64% White, 20% Hispanic, 10% Black, 5% Multiracial, and 1% Asian. Of those students, 63% qualify for the free or reduced-priced breakfast and lunch program. Students with disabilities make up 19% of the student body, 4% qualify as gifted, and 3% have limited English proficiency. The stability rate is 88.8%, the mobility rate is 33.6%, and the attendance rate is 94.1%. The total school staff population is 79, consisting of 52 instructional, 10 paraprofessional, 15 support, and two administrators. Of the 52 instructional staff members, 96% are currently highly qualified with the remaining staff members working to achieve this status by the end of the school year. Minority instructional staff totals 8%, minority paraprofessional staff totals 40%, and minority support staff totals 33%. The total per pupil expenditure is $7,399, with 56% being spent for instructional, 10% for student and support staff, 10% for administration, and 24% for other expenditures. The average years of teaching for instructional staff is 12 and 36% of teachers have advanced degrees. The student teacher ratio averages 15:1 (The School District of Lee County, 2008). The school has a Pre-K Program that is funded by Headstart. The program has a full-time teacher and teacher assistant to meet the needs of the 3 and 4 year old students they serve. The curriculum is structured to enhance social skills and readiness skills for


Kindergarten. They work closely with the kindergarten teachers, as well as other teachers to ensure a smooth transition into our upper grades. The mission of the school is to provide a safe and nurturing environment. The school is known for high expectations, parent involvement, and a strong focus on academics. The curriculum is tailored to meet individual needs and expectations in order to provide challenges and opportunities for success. It is through the philosophy that all children can achieve and must be given the opportunity to do so, that the administrators, teachers, staff, students, and parents will continue to strive for excellence and continuous improvement. The school believes that the education they provide should meet the needs of the population served and the curriculum will change as required to meet those needs. (Littleton Elementary, 2008). The school offers a variety of grouping strategies to meet the needs of the students; namely, cooperative learning grouping, inclusion classrooms, looping, and resource teachers. Students are encouraged to use available technology to make them successful 21st Century learners. The school has a strong partnership with local store chains and various members of the Chamber of Commerce. Short term challenges include maintaining their "A" status for the year and providing all proper staff development training to help meet annual goals. The long term challenges include maintaining a strong highly qualified staff, providing proper staff development to all staff, and increasing learning gains of the bottom quartile of students. The transiency rate and socio-economic hardships of the student population also present challenges to the staff. The school's reading program is Macmillan/MacGraw-Hill. Treasures is the series used for kindergarten through 5th grade, while Reading Triumphs is the intervention program used for students who are 2 or more years below grade level


(Macmillan/McGraw-Hill, 2005). The reading teachers at the setting are highly qualified instructors. The setting has a 90 minute reading block daily for grades K-3 and a 60-90 minute reading block for grades 4 and 5. Students who are below standards in reading also receive an additional amount of time on top of the reading block for intensive instruction. Teachers and paraprofessionals work with and monitor those who are substantially or minimally below standards in all grades. All teachers and students participate in the Reading Renaissance and Accelerated Reader program. This program is intended to enhance reading through the setting of goals on individual levels. Students collect points to reach his/her individual goal. They do this by reading books in their level, testing on the computer and receiving immediate feedback as to comprehension of the book. Teachers are required to keep accurate, timely, and consistent records on student progress as well as intervene as needed to help students stay on track with goals and ensure success and achievement of those goals. The school sends home a monthly newsletter that keeps families informed of upcoming events, suggestions for parents to help their child be successful, and reports outstanding achievements for all the stakeholders. The school also meets regularly with SAC and PTA groups. A Parent Link is used to keep parents informed of student achievement as well as upcoming events. The school's marquee is visible when passing by the school and is updated with important announcements. A weekly envelope is also sent out containing school notices and student progress reports. Many teachers have classroom websites that allow for communication and provide student/parent resources. Students follow a uniform dress code policy. Students must be in uniforms every day except for special announced occasions approved by the principal (Littleton Elementary, 2008).


The role of the researcher in the organization that will be studied is that of a third grade teacher and grade level chairperson. As the grade level chairperson, it is the researcher's responsibility to work with the principal in the development and implementation of departmental curriculum, serve as a resource on curriculum, help develop an ongoing program of curriculum evaluation, assist teachers in resolving instructional problems, assist the principal in preparing the department's supply, textbook, and equipment needs, and collaborate with teachers and other grade level personnel to achieve district goals. The problem is in the range of the researcher's influence because, as the grade level chairperson, the researcher has contact with all third grade teachers, students, and test data for third grade. Research Questions 1. To what extent does Reader's Theater influence the reading fluency of third grade students? 2. To what extent does Reader's Theater influence reading comprehension in third grade students? 3. To what extent does Reader's Theater significantly improve motivation to read in third grade students? Definitions of Terms Accuracy. This term refers to the ability of readers to decode words correctly in the text (Fuchs et al., 2001). Adequate yearly progress. This term refers to an individual state's measure of progress toward the goal of 100 percent of students achieving to state academic standards in at least reading/language arts and math. It sets the minimum level of proficiency that


the state, its school districts, and schools must achieve each year on annual tests and related academic indicators (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). Automaticity. This term describes the reader's ability to utilize phonological segmentation and decoding skills as well as rapid word recognition without conscious awareness and without interfering with other processes (Rasinski, 2002). Decoding. This term describes the reader's understanding that the sequence of letters in written words represents the sequence of sounds in spoken words and the reader's ability to translate the letters and patterns of written words into speech sounds automatically (Griffith & Rasinski, 2004) Direct fluency instruction. This term describes the teaching of a skill-set using lectures or demonstrations of the material (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2001). Fluency. This word refers to the ability to read accurately at an appropriate rate and with meaningful expression and phrasing (Rasinski, 2002). Grapheme. This word refers to all of the letters and letter combinations that represent a phoneme (National Reading Panel, 2000). Guided oral repeated reading. This term refers to the method of reading where students are required to read and reread text repeatedly with adult modeling and feedback until a predetermined level of proficiency had been attained (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2001). Intonation. This term refers to the pattern or pitch changes in connected speech, especially the pitch pattern of a sentence, which distinguishes types of sentences (Carnine, Silbert, Kame'enui, & Tarver, 2004).


Oral reading fluency. This term refers to the ability to read the text quickly, accurately, and with proper expression (National Reading Panel, 2000). Phoneme. This term refers to the smallest unit of sound that can change the meaning of a word (National Reading Panel, 2000). Phonemic awareness. This term refers to the sound structure of words without any written letters or written words present (Kuhn & Stahl, 2003). Phonics. This term refers to instruction that focuses on teaching the alphabetic principle and the sound-symbol correspondences (National Reading Panel, 2000). Phonological awareness. This term refers to the ability to recognize and manipulate the sound structures of oral language (National Reading Panel, 2000). Prosody. This term refers to the component of fluency that stresses that readers read with expression and with appropriate use of phrasing and expression (Kuhn & Stahl, 2003). Rate. This term refers to the number of words read correctly in a specified amount of time (NRP, 2000). Reading acuity. This term refers to the ability to pronounce words or select the main idea from a passage (Carter, 2000). Repeated reading. This term refers to the process of rereading a short, meaningful passage several times until a satisfactory level of fluency is reached (Rasinski, 2002).


Chapter 2: Review of Related Literature Introduction Reading instruction has always been a high priority in American education, but the level of urgency for all schools to teach all students to read proficiently and at grade level has been significantly increased by the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2001. A heightened awareness to improve reading instruction started to gain momentum in 1997 when President Clinton announced in his State of the Union Address that one of his goals was to ensure that all children could read by the end of third grade (Clinton, 1997). President Bush expanded that national reading goal by implementing the No Child Left Behind Act. The U.S. Department of Education (2002) stated that the NCLB law makes all schools accountable for helping all students reach a level of proficiency in reading ability and all students must be reading at grade level by the 20132014 school year. As a result of this law, effective reading instruction has received intense scrutiny. According to U.S. Department of Education (2002), the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 reauthorized a number of federal programs that aim to improve the performance of the United States primary and secondary schools by increasing the standards of accountability for states, school districts, and schools. Additionally, it promotes an increased focus on reading. As a result of the mandate that all students must be on grade level by the 2013-2014 school year, reading fluency and comprehension must be increased in all students if these goals are to be met. Children who have poor academic success in elementary school, especially those students who have difficulty learning to read, are more likely to engage in delinquency, violence, and substance abuse during adolescence (Fleming, Harachi, Cortes, Abbot, &


Catalano, 2004). The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2001) stated that 75% of students who drop out of school had reported difficulties in learning to read and that only 2% of students receiving special education or remedial education for reading difficulties complete college. At least half of adolescents and young adults with criminal records reported they struggled in the area of reading and approximately 50% of children and adolescents with substance abuse problems have struggled with reading. These startling statistics highlight the importance of making reading instruction a high priority in all schools. Good and Kaminski (2003) stated that children with reading problems do not spontaneously get over them; usually, the gap in student reading performances increases as the student advances through school. According to Honig, Diamond, and Gutlohn, (2000), future reading problems can be detected and prevented in most children in elementary school if instruction is intensive and comprehensive and includes practices that are supported by research. When children master reading skills in the elementary years, they are more likely to become better learners throughout their school career and develop the skills they need to succeed not only in school, but at work and in their community. The purpose of this paper is to review the literature examining how children develop into fluent readers and the strategies to achieve reading success. Reading Acquisition In 1997, Congress directed the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to form a committee to evaluate the effectiveness of current reading strategies and advise Congress regarding the best elements of a reading program that would promote literacy. The Panel followed a specific course of action for gathering information for its study. The first was to review a variety of public databases to


determine what research had already been conducted on how children learn to read. The second was by holding public regional hearings to gather information from the public about their needs and their understanding of reading research. The third was to consult with leading education organizations that had an interest in reading issues (National Reading Panel, 2000). The Panel concentrated only on studies that were experimental or quasiexperimental in design. These studies included a sample size that was considered large enough to be useful, and the instructional procedures used in the studies had to be well defined. (National Reading Panel, 2000). Their findings, based on this scientific research, stated that the five components that are the most essential for building the skills to improve reading achievement are; phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension (NICHHD, 2001; Rasinski, 2002; Therrien, 2004; Therrien, & Kubina, 2006). Phonemic awareness is the first component in reading acquisition. Phonemic awareness is the capability to understand that words are made up of speech sounds or phonemes. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in spoken words and the understanding that spoken words and syllables are made up of sequences of speech sounds. With phonemic awareness, students recognize that individual sounds can be blended into new words (NRP, 2000). The awareness of the sound of each phoneme is believed to have a positive effect on students' future reading ability and it is considered a stepping stone upon which to build. It is essential in learning to read in an alphabetic writing system, because letters represent sounds or phonemes. Without phonemic awareness, phonics makes little sense and it is essential to mapping


speech to print (Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; NICHHD, 2001; Rasinski, 2002; Therrien, 2004; Therrien, & Kubina, 2006). The second essential component is phonics instruction. Phonics instruction teaches children the relationships between the letters (graphemes) of written language and the individual sounds (phonemes) of spoken language. Phonics teaches children to use these relationships to read words. The goal of phonics instruction is to help children learn and use the alphabetic principle. It helps early readers to understand that there are systematic and predictable relationships between written letters and spoken sounds. Knowing these relationships helps early readers recognize familiar words accurately and automatically and decode new words (National Institute for Literacy, 2008). Fluency is the third essential component. Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately, quickly, and to recognize the words automatically. Fluent readers use expression and their reading flows smoothly. When fluent readers read, they recognize words automatically. They group words quickly to help them gain meaning from what they read. Fluency is important because it provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension. Fluent readers do not have to concentrate on decoding the words therefore they can focus their attention on the meaning of the text (Rasinski, 2002; Therrien, 2004; Therrien, & Kubina, 2006). Vocabulary instruction is the fourth component. Vocabulary refers to the words that the reader must know to communicate effectively. Oral vocabulary refers to the words used in speech, while reading vocabulary refers to the words recognized in print. Vocabulary plays an important part in learning to read and is an integral component to reading comprehension. As beginning readers, children use the words they have heard to make sense of the words they see in print. They have a much more difficult time reading


words that are not already part of their oral vocabulary rather than words they have familiarity with. Readers cannot understand what they are reading without first knowing the meaning of the words they see. As children learn to read more advanced texts, they must learn the meaning of new words that are not part of their oral vocabulary (National Institute for Literacy, 2008; Rasinski, 2002; Therrien, 2004; Therrien, & Kubina, 2006). The final component is comprehension. Comprehension is applying the first four components and building understanding of what is read. Comprehension is the reason for reading. If readers can read the words but have no understanding in what they are reading, they are not really reading. Good readers are both purposeful (they have a reason to read) and active (they think to make sense of what they read). Research over 30 years has shown that instruction in comprehension can help students understand what they read, remember what they read, and communicate with others about what they read (Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; National Institute for Literacy, 2008; NICHHD, 2001; Rasinski, 2002; Therrien, 2004; Therrien, & Kubina, 2006). Reading Fluency Reading is one of the most important skills a child can learn for future success. The early elementary years are the most critical in developing and mastering those reading skills. In order to improve reading comprehension, a reader must first decode the words effortlessly. Building fluency is the key to reading comprehension. Reading fluency, the ability to read accurately at an appropriate rate and with meaningful expression and phrasing, has been shown to be associated with reading comprehension for students through the intermediate grades (Rasinski, 2002). Studies have shown that fluency involves reading phrases rapidly, seamlessly, and expressively, as opposed to word by word (Chard et al., 2002; Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; Rasinski). The reading process


involves two separate but highly interrelated areas - word identification and comprehension. It is well established that difficulties in automatic word recognition significantly affect a reader's ability to effectively comprehend what they are reading (Kuhn & Stahl; Rasinski). Additionally, oral reading fluency has been shown to be a better predictor of reading comprehension than other reading assessment measures such as direct questioning or retelling (Fuchs et al., 2001). The lack of fluency in poor readers is evidenced by their slow, faltering, and inconsistent rate, poor phrasing, and inadequate intonation patterns. When a reader is proficient, they read fluently with adequate speed, and when they read aloud, they use appropriate phrasing, intonation, and their oral reading is a reflection of their spoken language. Fluency plays a critical role in reading because it provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension (Carnine et al., 2004; Therrien & Kubina, 2006). Fluency does not always guarantee comprehension, but comprehension is difficult without fluency. If a reader is constantly stopping to decode or figure out unknown words, more than likely meaning will be disrupted and the process of reading becomes long and difficult (Griffith & Rasinski, 2004). When students make gains in reading fluency, they are able to put their energies into comprehension and are able to use higher order thinking skills to analyze, interpret, draw conclusions, and infer meaning from texts. These are the skills proficient readers use to gain meaning from the text (Rasinski, 2002). Fluency develops gradually over time and through substantial practice. At the earliest stage of reading development, a student's oral reading is slow and labored because they are just learning to "break the code" - to attach sounds to letters and to blend letter sounds into recognizable words. Fluency is not a stage of development at which


readers can read all words quickly and easily. Fluency changes, depending on what readers are reading, their familiarity with the words, and the amount of their practice with reading text (National Institute for Literacy, 2008). There are several methods and principles for teaching reading fluency. These include modeling reading fluency for students by reading to them on a regular basis and drawing their attention to the expressive portion of the reading, providing oral reading support to students while they themselves read, using repeated readings while focusing instruction on proper and meaningful phrasing, and providing readers with materials at their independent reading level (Rasinski, 2002). All of these individual methods and techniques will help increase reading fluency and overall reading development for students. However, Rasinski emphasized that it is important for teachers to combine, coordinate, and integrate these methods into the reading program so that the instruction has a more powerful, synergistic effect. Fluency has been identified as an essential link between word analysis and comprehension of text and is considered a necessary tool for learning to read (Chard, et al., 2002; Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; National Institute for Literacy, 2008; NICHHD, 2001; Rasinski, 2002; Therrien, 2004; Therrien, & Kubina, 2006). Studies have shown that fluency can be developed through increasing the amount of independent reading in which students engage, and there is evidence showing the relationship between the amount students read, their reading fluency, and their comprehension (Chard et al.; Kuhn & Stahl). These studies also showed that a variety of measures based on repeated readings can help readers to improve fluency. Function of Reading Fluency Scientifically based research reviews (Chard et al., 2002; Kuhn & Stahl, 2003;


NICHHD, 2001; Rasinski, 2004; Therrien, 2004) have established that reading fluency is a critical component in acquiring reading skills and effective reading programs need to include fluency instruction. There was a consensus among the research studies that concluded that reading fluency is an essential link between word analysis and comprehension of text. Fluency enables the reader to read a text accurately and quickly. When fluent readers read silently, they recognize words automatically. They group words quickly to help them gain meaning from what they read. They read aloud effortlessly and with expression. Fluent readers do not have to concentrate on decoding the words; instead, they can focus their attention on the meaning of the text (Chard et al.; Kuhn & Stahl; Rasinski; Therrien, & Kubina, 2006). Learning to read fluently and with comprehension is the reading goal for students through the third grade. This is the turning point between the "learning to read" phase of reading development and the "reading to learn" phase that typically begins in fourth grade. By the end of third grade, students are expected to have developed the automaticity to recognize words quickly and effortlessly. This ability to identify words rapidly facilitates comprehension of connected text, a critical element of reading when students are expected to use their literacy skills to learn sophisticated content across the curriculum (National Institute for Literacy, 2008). Fluency Development Fluency develops gradually over considerable time and through substantial practice. Fluency is not a stage of development at which readers can read all words quickly and easily. According to the literature, there are three major theories to fluency development. The first element in fluency development is decoding. Decoding is defined as the accurate and rapid naming or reading of letters, sounds, words, sentences, or


passages. Fluent readers learn to decode words quickly and accurately in isolation as well as in connected text and are able to increase their reading speed while maintaining accuracy. Understanding these relationships gives children the ability to recognize familiar words quickly and to figure out words they haven't seen before. Phonics is the approach that teaches students the principles of these letter-sound relationships, how to sound out words, and exceptions to the principles in order to decode the words (Chard et al., 2002; Kuhn, 2005; Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; Rasinski, 2004; Therrien, & Kubina, 2006). The second element in developing fluency is automaticity. Rasinski (2004) described automaticy as the ability to decode words accurately and automatically. Automatic reading involves the development of strong orthographic representations, which allows fast and accurate identification of whole words made up of specific letter patterns. Readers are able to move beyond deliberate decoding to automatic, accurate decoding. Fluent readers can decode words automatically with minimal use of conscious cognitive resources. The third element in fluency development is prosody. Kuhn and Stahl (2003) wrote that prosody is the component of fluency that stresses that readers read with expression and with appropriate use of phrasing. Prosody involves speech features such as stress, variations in pitch, intonation and pausing. When a student is reading with prosody, oral reading sounds much like ordinary speech with appropriate phrasing, rise and fall patterns, and general expressiveness. Prosody is both an indicator that the reader comprehends the text and an aid to comprehension. Prosodic reading is needed for a reader to comprehend text adequately. Fluency Instruction The literature indicated that two instructional approaches, both with several


variations, have typically been used to teach reading fluency effectively. The first approach, called guided repeated oral reading, encourages students to read passages orally several times with systematic and explicit guidance and feedback from the teacher. Students with instructional reading levels between first and third grade are most likely to benefit from this form of fluency instruction (Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; Rasinski, 2004; Therrien & Kubina, 2006). Guided repeated oral reading is an instructional strategy that can help students improve a variety of reading skills, including fluency. The National Reading Panel (2000) reviewed 100,000 studies over a 2 year period and concluded that repeated oral reading procedures that included guidance from teachers, peers, or parents had a significant and positive impact on word recognition, fluency, and comprehension across a range of grade levels. These studies were conducted in a variety of classrooms in both regular and special education settings with teachers using a wide variety of instructional materials (NICHHD, 2001). There are a number of effective procedures that can be used in providing guided repeated oral reading. In general, a teacher, parent, or peer reads a passage aloud, modeling fluent reading, and then asks the student to read the same passage aloud several times with encouragement and feedback by the adult or peer. The student can also reread the text quietly on their own several times. Optimally, passages should be at a difficulty level that requires students to reread the selection a sufficient number of times to achieve satisfactory fluency, usually about three or four times (Therrien & Kubina). Therrien's (2004) meta-analysis concurred and he also noted that gains in reading comprehension ceased to be significant after the third reading. However the study by Chard et al. (2002) indicated that the repeated reading of a passage should be no less than seven times to achieve proficiency.


Other examples of guided oral reading include reading with a peer partner, listening to fluent reading on tape, and Reader's Theater. When reading with a peer partner, each partner takes a turn reading to the other. A more fluent reader can be paired with a less fluent reader to model fluent reading. The more fluent reader can provide feedback and encouragement to the less fluent reader. Students of similar reading skills can also be paired, after the teacher has modeled fluent reading and the partners continue to practice (NICHHD, 2001). Students can also listen to a tape of a fluent reader reading text at the student's independent level at a pace of about 80-100 words a minute. The student listens to the tape the first time and then practices' reading along with the tape until the student is able to read fluently. Reader's Theater is another form of guided oral reading. Readers' theater can be a motivating way to improve fluency. Students read scripts and rehearse a play to prepare for a performance. The practice in reading and rereading the scripts provides an excellent opportunity to improve fluency skills (NICHHD, 2001; Rasinski, 2004). The other approach, called independent silent reading, encourages students to read silently on their own with minimal guidance or feedback (Chard et al., 2002; Kuhn, 2005; Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; NICHHD, 2001; Rasinski, 2004; Therrien & Kubina, 2006). However, the literature did not agree on which instructional practices best promote competency in reading fluency. The NRP (2000) found that repeated oral reading is superior to instruction encouraging students to read silently. The NICHHD reported that insufficient evidence exists to link independent, sustained, silent reading as a means of increasing oral reading fluency.


Oral Reading Fluency and Comprehension There are two primary theories that suggest how fluency contributes to a reader's comprehension of text, each of which emphasizes one of fluency's component parts. The first and better known of the two theories stresses the contribution of automaticity to fluent reading, whereas the second focuses upon the role of prosody. Reading is a complex process that involves many different faculties of the brain working together. The final outcomes of comprehension are indicators of what the reader should know and understand after reading is completed, whereas the processes of comprehension are those cognitive activities by which the reader arrives at those results. Contemporary interventions are typically guided by the view that effective methods for helping struggling readers should be obtained by affecting the processes that occur during reading (Rapp, van den Broek, McMaster, Kendeou & Espin, 2007). Fluency is not the final goal in any overall reading program, but a gateway or the bridge to comprehension. Fluent reading frees resources so the reader can process meaning (Allington, 2005). Armbruster, Lehr, and Osborn (2001) noted that more fluent readers are able to focus on meaning while less fluent readers need to focus on the act of reading. Rasinski (2004) and Dowhower (1999) concluded in their research that there is a strong correlation between developing a student's oral reading fluency and concurrent improvement in their reading comprehension. Rapp et al (2007) documented that basic reading skills involve the identification of letters and words in a text, whereas higher-order reading skills are concerned with the understanding of concepts and ideas conveyed by the text. In the context of learning, comprehension entails the identification of the meaning of the text as a connected whole rather than as a series of individual words and sentences. Once fluency has been


established, readers can than focus their attention and use their cognitive abilities to comprehend text. As readers become more fluent, they are able to hold larger chunks of information in their working memory, therefore they will be able to manipulate this data in conjunction with their background knowledge to make connections with the text. Readers who are fluent can therefore make these meaningful connections and ultimately comprehend what they are reading (Otaiba & Rivera, 2006). Research done by Chard et al. (2002) clearly stated that although fluency in and of itself is not always sufficient to ensure high levels of reading comprehension; comprehension is absolutely necessary, depends upon, and typically reflects fluency. If a reader has not developed fluency, the process of decoding words drains attention and insufficient attention is available for constructing the meaning of the text. Fluency builds on a foundation of oral language skills, phonemic awareness, familiarity with letterforms, and efficient decoding skills. Comprehension isn't an entity by itself, but rather occurs as the culminating result of all the skills operating efficiently. Comprehension is the reason for reading. If readers can read the words but do not understand what they are reading, they are not really reading. Students who read with comprehension can tie their knowledge of phonemic awareness and sound-symbol correspondences together to decode unknown words. They can rapidly and automatically recognize a great number of words by sight and can instantaneously relate the meaning of the vocabulary words to their prior knowledge and connect the ideas within the text to make meaning. All this happens so efficiently that it appears effortless. The goal of all reading instruction is to help students ultimately be able to read fluently with comprehension (Allington, 2005; Armbruster et al., 2001)


Motivation and Reading Reading motivation is the inspirational force to reading. Implementing the conditions under which students are motivated to read is important in the process of teaching and fostering learning. Most of the scientifically based research studies have provided well documented research on the importance of the cognitive aspects of reading such as word recognition, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension and even background knowledge (Allington, 2005; Armbruster et al., 2001; Chard et al., 2002; Kuhn, 2005; Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; NICHHD, 2001; Rasinski, 2004; Therrien & Kubina, 2006). However, a critical aspect of reading proficiency that is too often overlooked is the key role motivation plays in reading success. In order for students to develop into effective readers, they must not only possess reading skills, they must also have the will to read. The more children read the better readers they will become. Readers who are highly motivated are self determining and generate their own reading opportunities. They want to read and choose to read for a wide range of personal reasons such as curiosity, involvement, social interchange, and emotional satisfaction (Gambrell, Palmer, Codling, & Mazzoni, 1996). Children who enjoy reading do it more often and are more likely to become skilled at it. Poor readers, alternatively, often display low motivation to read. Z x Morgan and Fuchs (2007) explained the importance of early reading experiences.

They noted that children who read frequently grow to become skillful readers. Given sufficient print resources, how often a child reads is rationalized by two factors, early success and motivation. The cycle of poor readers becoming poorer readers can begin as early as first grade. For students who don't master reading skills early, reading may become a painful experience. As a result, they often pass up opportunities for practice, putting themselves even further behind successful, motivated readers.


Morgan and Fuchs (2007) found that children's reading motivation can be linked to two well-established indicators: competency beliefs (children's beliefs about their ability to read) and goal orientation (whether and why children want to be good readers). Morgan and Fuchs reported that reading skills and motivation correlate and support the possibility of a bidirectional relationship between the two. However, they could not conclude that one caused the other as there was not enough evidence to support this conclusion. Morgan and Fuchs also noted that motivation is a multidimensional factor that is hard to measure. They recommend targeting both reading skills and motivation. Other researchers have identified three major aspects that can influence motivation to participate in certain tasks such as reading. Those three aspects include self-efficacy beliefs, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and social aspects of motivation (Wigfield, Guthrie, Tonks & Perencevich, 2004; Wigfield & Guthrie, 1997). Wigfield et al. (2004) described self-efficacy for reading as the perception of one's ability to reach a goal. A student's self-efficacy beliefs are intertwined in how well they have done on similar tasks and the feedback they receive from others. When students have a high perception that they will attain a given goal, they are more apt to participate in challenging activities and have the perseverance to keep on trying even though a given task may be difficult (Wigfield et al.; Wigfield & Guthrie, 1997). Intrinsic motivation allows children to complete activities, such as reading, for their own interest. Their motivation comes from inside themselves. For example, giving children opportunities to experience hands-on learning coinciding with allowing them to generate their own research questions promotes intrinsic motivation. This in turn leads to students who want to find out the answers to their questions through the use of relevant literature (Wigfield et al.; Wigfield & Guthrie). Extrinsic motivation can also engage a child in


reading activities. Extrinsically motivated students read to receive some benefit such as a reward. Their motivation comes from what they will materially attain such as a grade or a prize (Wigfield et al.). Wigfield and Guthrie also noted the social aspect of reading as a motivational stimulus. Many students just enjoy the interaction of sharing a book with others. Approaches to Building Motivation z Inspiring students to want read is a basic struggle in many classrooms. Motivation

is a key factor in obtaining reading success. Children need to be motivated to read and use literature to develop into fluent readers. Motivating struggling readers is not an easy task, but it is necessary to build the desire and drive to read. Good reading instruction influences students' achievement of positive motivational dispositions and specific competencies in code based reading skills (Gambrell, 1996; Wigfield & Guthrie, 1997). In a research study conducted by Gambrell et al. (1996) at the National Reading Research Center, motivation to read was investigated with a variety of elementary age children. In several different studies, they looked at reading motivation with first, third, and fifth grade students. These studies identified several key components involved in fostering motivation. According to Gambrell et al., classroom cultures that foster reading motivation are characterized by a teacher who is a reading model, a book-rich classroom environment, familiarity with books, social interactions with books, opportunities for choice, and literacy-related incentives that reflect the value of reading. To foster motivation in children, literature should not be limited solely to basal readers or trade books, but include comics, newspapers, magazines and humorous literature. Researchers described a variety of other strategies educators can use in the classroom to ensure that all readers are motivated. These include using interactive strategies such as Readers


Workshop, Think-Alouds, Story Telling, and Reader's Theater. (Gambrell, 1996; Gambrell et al., 1996; Wigfield et al., 2004; Wigfield & Guthrie, 1997). Reader's Theater The literature reported several techniques to be effective in improving fluency including the reading and rereading of text a number of times until a certain criterion is reached. Several writers have suggested one effective approach of increasing fluency through repeated reading is using Reader's Theater (Griffith & Rasinski, 2004; NICHHD, 2001; Rasinski, 2002). Reader's Theater is a way to promote repeated reading in a meaningful and engaging manner. It helps students convey meaning through expression and intonation (Griffith & Rasinski; Rasinski). The focus thus becomes interpreting the script rather than memorizing it. Building fluency is also one of the five major doctrines of Reading First, part of the No Child Left Behind Act. Researchers have substantiated that an effective instructional approach to building fluency is repeated reading where students read passages aloud several times and receive guidance and feedback from the teacher (Chard et al., 2002; Kuhn, 2005; Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; Rasinski, 2004; Therrien, & Kubina, 2006). "Put Reading First", a booklet published by the U.S. Department of Education (2002), stated that Reader's Theatre provides readers with a legitimate reason to reread text and to practice fluency. Reader's Theater is the oral presentation of drama, prose, or poetry by two or more readers. It involves children in oral reading through reading parts in scripts (Rasinski, 2002). Unlike traditional theater, the emphasis is mainly on oral expression of the part. Reader's Theater is a way to motivate a reluctant reader. Its focus is on repeated readings which improve fluency, comprehension, and motivation. Reader's Theater is an instructional activity that utilizes guided oral repeated


readings to promote students' oral reading fluency. In Reader's Theater, students receive play-like scripts to practice, but unlike a typical play, there are generally no costumes, actions, or scenery involved, and students do not have any lines to memorize. Instead, emphasis is placed on the dramatic reading of the scripts, with students using expressive reading in order to set the tone and maintain the audience's interest in the presentation (Rasinski, 2002). As students practice for a Reader's Theater performance, guidance and feedback should be provided by teachers and peers as the research showed that adult guidance and feedback has been determined to be superior for maximizing fluency development (Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; Rasinski, 2004; Therrien & Kubina, 2006). The performance then serves as the culminating activity, with students conducting a dramatic reading in front of an audience of teachers, peers, parents, or other individuals. Worthy & Prater (2002) describe Reader's Theater as an activity that involves social interaction which gives children an opportunity to share with their peers. This coincided with the study by Gambrell et at. (1996) that reported one of the motivators of reading is the social aspect. Reader's Theater also provides every student a reading and speaking role which in turn can help promote motivation. When engaged in Reader's Theater, reluctant readers read scripts over and over again, to get their lines right, which is a prescription to increasing fluency. This helps those students construct meaning which can then allow continual growth in reading. Children become so familiar with the Reader's Theater scripts they become more proficient with automaticity and prosody. Rather than focusing all their cognitive energy on decoding, students can now focus on speed, expression, and comprehension. Rinehart (1999) concluded that the rereading practice was a key element for successful implementation of Reader's Theater. Along with the opportunity that Reader's


Theater provided for sustained and fluent reading, a large part of its value was derived from the affective and social aspects, which helped to improve students' motivation and attitudes toward reading. Rinehart even noted that participation in Reader's Theater appeared to increase student motivation in other, unrelated school tasks. Similar qualitative findings pertaining to the benefits of Reader's Theater, were also reported by Worthy and Prater (2002). Numerous studies have been conducted across grade levels that provided empirical evidence that Reader's Theater promotes gains in oral reading fluency, as well as growth in overall proficiency, while offering reading in a motivational context (Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; Rasinski, 2004; Therrien & Kubina, 2006; Worthy and Prater, 2002). In a study by Martinez, Roser, and Stecker (1999), second grade students showed gains in fluency and motivation using Reader's Theater as a reading intervention for 10 weeks. Millin and Rinehart (1999) utilized Reader's Theater with second grade Title I and other at risk students. Their findings were similar to Martinez et al. in concluding that Reader's Theater supported the development of oral reading ability and attitude towards reading and reading instruction. Worthy and Prater introduced Reader's Theater to middle school students, finding that Reader's Theater led to increased engagement, even with reluctant readers. Rasinski (2002) reported in a 10 week period of utilizing Reader's Theater in a second grade classroom, students made significant gains in reading rate and overall reading achievement. Not only was Reader's Theater found to be effective in reading gains, but also as a way of motivating students to read. Rasinski stressed that Reader's Theater will lead to increased test scores as well as developing students into lifelong learners.


Summary Being able to comprehend and to draw meaning from what one reads is the fundamental purpose of reading. Reader's Theater shows promise for helping students improve reading skills in a wide range of ages and abilities. The research literature was overwhelmingly in support that repeated oral reading instruction, that includes guidance from teachers, adults, peers, or parents, has a significant and positive impact on word recognition, fluency, comprehension and overall reading achievement across grade levels, and that fluent readers are better able to comprehend what they read (Chard et al., 2002; Kuhn, 2005; Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; NICHHD, 2001; Rasinski, 2004; Therrien & Kubina, 2006). The literature also supported the use of Reader's Theater as an effective way to motivate students to become proficient readers. However, the link between fluent oral reading and comprehension still raises many questions. Educators have encountered students who are fluent, yet continually struggle with comprehension. In contrast, educators have encountered students who stumbled and stammered their way through decoding a passage, yet clearly comprehended meaning from the text. The use of Reader's Theater appears to be both manageable for teachers and motivating for students (Martinez et al., 1999; Millin & Rinehart, 1999; Rasinski, 2004) However, there are still unanswered questions as to why some students lack fluency and have difficulty in learning to read in spite of remediation. Minimal research evidence is available to confirm that instructional time spent on silent, independent reading with minimal guidance and feedback improves reading fluency or overall reading achievement. This is critical, as most schools in this district mandate 30 minutes of silent independent reading.


The majority of current Reader's Theater research involved primary grade students (Martinez et al., 1999; Rasinski, 2004) and/or students who had been identified as having significant reading deficits (Griffith &Rasinski, 2004; Millin & Rinehart,1999). More research needs to be undertaken as to the effectiveness of Reader's Theater on fluency and comprehension for older students and adult learners. There is also little research documented on ways to improve the reading performance of less successful readers, those that do not respond to repeated readings, while at the same time motivating at-risk readers to become actively engaged in reading. When implemented effectively in the classroom, Reader's Theater can capture the attention of many of the most reluctant readers and instill the love of reading. Through dramatization and repeated readings, Reader's Theater can offer students a greater opportunity to acquire an understanding of the text. Through this understanding, students can open doors of knowledge that were previously unattainable to them.


Chapter 3: Methodology Introduction Students at the school where the research study will take place show evidence of deficiencies in oral-reading fluency and comprehension as indicated by their scores on the Diagnostic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills Test (DIBELS) and Standardized Test for the Assessment of Reading (STAR) test. As of May 2008, 22% of third grade students at the school failed to meet state and district standards. The reading instructional strategies utilized at the school had fallen short of meeting the needs of that percentage of students, and the lack of student progress in oral-reading fluency and comprehension indicated the need for further intervention. This study will determine if the systematic, weekly use of guided oral repeated readings by means of Reader's Theater will lead to significant increases in third-grade students' reading fluency, comprehension levels, and motivation when compared to third grade students who do not participate weekly in Reader's Theater. The problem this proposal will address will involve third grade students who fail to demonstrate reading fluency and comprehension. Participants Students who attend the participating school are primarily of lower to middle class backgrounds. The demographic and socioeconomic makeup of the students will represent the student population of the school, comprising of both male and female students. The age range of the participants will be from 8 through 10 years old. The sample of participants selected for this study will be from the accessible population of third-grade students at the suburban elementary school. The students will be identified as at-risk, based on reading performance and standardized test scores from STAR and DIBELS that fall below state standards from the previous and/or beginning of the school


year. Students' scores will be ranked from highest to lowest, and equivalent pairs will be formed based on their test scores, gender, and ethnicity. Using random selection, there will be 20 participants chosen from the lowest scores, then using random assignment 10 will be chosen for the experimental group and 10 will be assigned to the control group. Instruments The first data instrument utilized will be the Diagnostic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills Test (DIBELS). The DIBELS assessments are a set of standardized, individually administered measures of early literacy skills that are designed to be administered quickly through one minute timed tests. The assessments are intended to monitor student progress by regularly assessing the development of pre-reading and early reading skills. Each measure has an empirically validated score that if students meet or achieve, has been found to be predictive of later reading proficiency (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, 2005). The test contains a standardized set of passages and administrative procedures that are a means of identifying children who may need additional instructional support. The DIBELS assessments consist of five components which are: Initial Sound Fluency, Letter Naming Fluency, Phoneme Segmentation Fluency, Nonsense Word Fluency, and Oral Reading Fluency. In the second grade, students are tested on nonsense word fluency and oral reading fluency only, while third grade students are only tested on oral reading fluency (DIBELS, 2002). The test is administrated three times a year and is designed to monitor students' progress toward instructional goals. The passages are calibrated to address the reading goals of each grade level (Good, Kaminski, Simmons, & Kame'enui, 2001). The authors of the DIBELS assessments have used correlational studies as evidence of DIBELS reliability and validity (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy


Skills, 2005). Buck and Torgesen (2003) reported that students' performance on a 1 minute measure of oral reading proficiency on the DIBELS was predictive of their achievement on the reading section of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). A correlation was noted that at midyear, students with oral reading fluency at or above 110 are considered to be at low risk for failing the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Students scoring between 80 and 109 correct words per minute are considered moderate risk and students who score below 80 correct words per minute are at high risk for receiving a below grade level score on FCAT (Buck & Torgesen). The concurrent validity of the DIBELS oral reading fluency assessment for first through third grade is .80. The reliability information includes alternate form reliability of .92 and test-retest reliability of .92-.97 (DIBELS, 2002). Additionally, data was collected in a pilot study to determine the reliability of two alternate reading passages. Correlations between the alternate passages were significant. Specifically, for the WCPM, r(40) = .87, p < .001, and for the accuracy percentage, r(40) = .70, p < .001. The reliability was increased further via the administration of three passages for 1-minute each and then averaging the results from the three readings (DIBELS). The next instrument that will be utilized will be the Standardized Test for the Assessment of Reading (STAR) computer-adaptive reading test. The STAR reading test and data base are an achievement-level, progress monitoring, learning information system that provides teachers with reading scores for grades 1 through 12 in about 10 minutes. STAR reading is a 25-item test that provides regular reports on performance at the class, grade, and building level, as well as year-to-year comparisons. Each assessment provides estimates of students' reading skills and compares students' abilities to national norms. Each assessment is intended to assist in the development of curriculum and instruction by


providing feedback about students' progress. The software reports grade equivalents, percentile ranks, and normal curve equivalents (Renaissance Learning, 2006). The reliability of the data reported from STAR was tested using the split-half method, the test-retest method, the alternate forms method, and the estimation of generic reliability. The results for each testing were as follows: split-half method 0.89, the testretest method 0.85, the alternate forms method 0.82, and the estimation of generic reliability 0.89. These results indicate that STAR has a high reliability level in measuring reading comprehension (Renaissance Learning, 2006). To evaluate motivation for reading, a 20 question, pre and post multiple choice survey along with an interview will be administered from the Motivation to Read Profile (Gambrell et al., 1996). The interview and survey instrument will measure the students' concept of themselves as a reader and the value they place on reading. The profile includes two instruments: the Reading Survey and the Conversational Interview. The survey contains 20 items that employ a four point response and the Conversational Interview component which allows for detailed data collection from the participants. Gambrell et al., (1996) field tested the Motivation to Read Profile based on the following criteria: applicability to second through sixth grades, applicability to all teaching approaches and materials, suitability for group administration, and accuracy in reflecting the appropriate dimension of motivation (self-concept or value). Based on the described criteria, an initial pool of questions was developed. The questions were critiqued by three experienced classroom teachers who were also graduate students in reading. Items that received 100% agreement were then submitted to four classroom teachers, who were then asked to sort the items into three categories: measures selfconcept, measures value of reading, and not sure or questionable. Again, only those items


that received 100% trait agreement were selected to be included on the Reading Survey. The final version was administered to 330 third and fifth grade students in 27 classrooms in an Eastern U.S. state. A factor analysis was done that used the un-weighted least squares method and a varimax rotation. Items that loaded cleanly were used in the final instrument. A Cronbach's alpha statistic was calculated to assess the internal consistency, it was revealed that there was a moderately high reliability for both subscales: selfconcept = .75; value = .82 (Gambrell et al.). A stratified random sample of 48 students was used to field test 60 interview questions in the development of the Conversational Interview. To obtain this group, Gambrell et al, (1996) asked teachers to identify grade level, above grade level, and below grade level students. Within these groups, teachers were asked to identify students that they thought were highly motivated readers and least motivated readers. After analyzing the 48 students' interview responses, 14 questions were selected that provided the most useful information about students' motivation to read (Gambrell et al.). The final version of the Motivation to Read Survey and the Conversational Interview were examined to validate for consistency. Each student's responses were compared to items on the survey with information provided during the interview. There was an inter-rater agreement of .87. A further test of the validity of the Reading Survey indicated a positive correlation between motivation and achievement (Gambrell et al., 1996). Procedures In this study, a quasi-experimental pretest-posttest, experimental-control-group design will be used to determine the effect of a Reader's Theater intervention (independent variable) on the comprehension, motivation, and oral reading fluency rate


(dependant variable) of students who do not meet state reading standards. The data collected will consist of the most recent DIBELS oral reading fluency scores and STAR reading comprehension scores, both district mandates, from all third grade students at the school site and used as the baseline. Once the scores are posted and analyzed, and following IRB approval, 20 students will be randomly selected from those scoring below state standards. Parent information letters and consent forms will then be sent home and parents will have the opportunity to ask questions, either by phone or in person. These students will then be invited to participate in a 10 week, after school Reader's Theater reading intervention club, meeting twice a week for 1 hour. The Reader's Theater club will begin one week after the deadline for the return of all consent forms. Each of the 20 students chosen will then be given the Motivation to Read Survey and the Conversational Interview. From all the students who return their consent form, using random selection to ensure external validity, 10 students will be chosen for the experimental group, while five others will be placed on a waiting list in the event of attrition. The control group, chosen by random selection as well, will also be from low scoring third graders at the school site. This group will not stay after school nor will they be given the treatment of the Reader's Theater intervention. The control group will use only the standard reading curriculum. During week one, all students in the experimental and control groups will be administered a pretest assessment of their oral reading fluency, similar to the DIBELS, prior to the start of the Reader's Theater intervention to create a baseline assessment. The students will also complete a survey and interview designed to measure their motivation to read, also used as a baseline. All the students in the experimental group will then complete the 10 week intervention using Reader's Theater.


On day one following the pretests, the 10 students in the experimental group will be divided into two groups of five. Each student will be given a copy of a Reader's Theater script. The title of the script and its author will be read to the students. The students will be encouraged to make predictions about the story, characters, etc. The script will be read aloud to the students as they follow along. Following the reading, students will be asked for feedback about the story and a list of vocabulary words will be generated and reviewed. On day two and three, after a review of all vocabulary words, both groups of students will choral read the script along with the instructor. The students will then take turns reading every other entry in the script; to ensure that they will all have the same amount of material to read. This will be repeated several times. While the students are reading the script, the instructor will circulate among the students to offer assistance in the correct pronunciation of words, reading with feeling and emotion, and reading at an appropriate rate and volume. The session will close by doing a group read-around of the script and then assigning roles at the close of the third session. The script will be sent home each day with the students for further practice. On the fourth and fifth days the students will continue to read their roles from the script while the instructor continues to circulate among the students to offer assistance and model. On the fifth day, students will have time to practice the script a few more times before performing the play for the other group. The five day rotation pattern will continue each consecutive day the Reader's Theater club meets. Following the 10 week intervention period, posttest assessments of oral reading fluency, comprehension, and motivation will be administered to both groups of students using the same assessment protocol from the pretest. Treatment effects will be analyzed


by examining the changes in the oral reading fluency and reading comprehension measures from pretest to posttest, and comparing changes in scores across the two groups. Students' mean scores will be analyzed by the use of a two-way ANOVA from the pre- and posttest and entered for analysis using Statistical Software for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Limitations The external validity of a study deals with the ability to generalize the results of the research to others not included in the sample (Johnson & Christensen, 2004). This study will be limited in that all data will be from only one elementary school and not the entire target population of third graders in the state. As a result of this, the conclusions drawn about the cause-effect-relationships of Reader's Theater leading to an increase in oral reading fluency many not actually apply to students in other geographic locations. Therefore, this could contribute to a threat to external validity due to the fact that only a small sample will be obtained from a single geographic location. According to Johnson and Christensen (2004), threats to internal validity include testing effects, which can arise from changes in scores on a posttest simply due to the administration of a pretest, and maturation effects, which can arise from natural changes that occur over time and subsequently affect performance on a measure. The presence of a control group will help increase the internal validity of the study by controlling the potential threats presented by both maturation and testing, and will provide a comparison to the pretest and posttest scores of the experimental group and means for statistical control of differences between the groups. An additional threat outlined by Johnson and Christensen involved an instrumentation effect, in which changes in the measurement of a dependent variable (using different forms of an assessment for pre- and posttests) can


also lead to changes in scores. Another limitation will be that the DIBELS assessment, although it is a standardized assessment tool, is given by administrators who have limited training and experience in DIBELS, thus possibly jeopardizing the validity of the scores report. Even though scores will be analyzed to determine if there is a difference before and after the treatment, it might not be possible to conclude that this difference is related to the treatment itself or some other confounding variable. It is certainly possible that those who volunteer for the study will be inherently different in terms of motivation from those who do not participate. An additional limitation might arise if not enough participants volunteer for the Reader's Theater intervention club. Attrition can also pose a problem for the research, as many families move in and out of the school district.


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Appendix A Permission to use Motivation Profile


Re: motivation to read profile

Sunday, August 10, 2008 9:24 PM From: "Linda B. Gambrell" <[email protected]> Add sender to Contacts To: [email protected]

Kathy ­ The instrument is free for use and can be adapted as you see fit. If you use the copy in the 1996 Reading Teacher, please note that item #11 should NOT be recoded -- a printing error was made. Also, I would appreciate your citing the MRP and the Reading Teacher articles. Do let me know what you find. Regards, Linda

On 8/10/08 5:15 PM, "KATHY CALLARD" <[email protected]> wrote: Dear Ms. Gambrell, My name is Katherine Callard and I am a doctorate student at NOVA University in Florida. I am doing my dissertation on improving reading fluency, comprehension, and motivation using reader's theater. I am writing you to ask permission to use your motivation to read profile in my study. I know that your article and survey would be very beneficial to my research. Please let me know via email at: [email protected] Thank you,



Appendix B Motivation to Read Survey









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