Dr. Susan Perry and Dr. Janet Behrend, literacy specialists in the Center for Literacy, completed a yearlong study of the effects of ‘writing about reading’ on the reading acceleration of low-performing first grade students. The study used a mixed-methods design to investigate the influence of the Guided Reading Plus (GRP) (Dorn & Soffos, 2012) small group intervention on potential second round Reading Recovery (RR) children’s subsequent eligibility for services and their rate of progress following small group instruction. A secondary purpose was to conduct an in-depth analysis of the children’s writing development over time.
The researchers trained five Reading Recovery teachers (Jennifer Coleman, Tara Derby, Gena Golleher, Anita Smith, and Vicki Williams) from the Sheridan and North Little Rock school districts in implementing the GRP intervention with 37 low-progress first graders. The students participated in daily 30-minute supplemental instruction for 12-14 weeks from September to December.
At the end of the intervention, 27 students scored at or near reading proficiency and were no longer eligible for Reading Recovery services; 2 students were identified as needing special education with a specific learning disability in both reading and math, and 1 child qualified to receive special education services under Other Health Impairment. The remaining 7 students were referred for Reading Recovery intervention with 6 students being discontinued. Figure 1 displays the progression of the three groups in text reading at beginning, mid, and end of study.
Based on the Continuum of Writing Development and Writing Behavior Checklists by Dorn and Soffos (2012), the researchers noted a significant change in the students’ writing progression that moved them from the emergent level to the late early level of writing over the course of the study. Dr. Perry and the participating teachers presented the results from the study at the Arkansas Reading Recovery and Comprehensive Literacy Conference in October. The study will be published in a chapter in an upcoming book.