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Implementing Diagnostic/Prescriptive Reading Innovations


by John G. Wirt - 1976

This article summarizes the results of fieldwork designed to examine the implementation process in six diagnostic/prescriptive reading projects (part of the Rand Corporation's Change-Agent Study). (Source: ERIC)

John G. Wirt is an operations research specialist with the Rand Corporation, Washington, D.C.1


The diagnostic/prescriptive approach to reading instruction is currently being advanced as an effective means of improving reading achievement in schools across the country. The basic idea of this approach is to rationalize the teaching of reading by providing teachers with a hierarchical sequence of well-defined reading skills around which to organize their reading instructional program. Reading experts differ on what this sequence of reading skills should be, but, in general, the skill hierarchies that have been developed specify that teachers should begin with simple reading readiness skills and build progressively up to more advanced vocabulary, word analysis, and comprehension tasks. Once some hierarchy of skills is selected, the diagnostic/prescriptive approach involves specifying diagnostic tests for each skill in the hierarchy, administering these tests to children to diagnose their reading skill deficiencies, and finally prescribing specific reading activities to children on an individual basis based on the results of these tests. Theoretically, the diagnostic/prescriptive approach leads to reading improvement through logical ordering and individualization of the sequence of reading activities presented to students.


Although the effects of the diagnostic/prescriptive approach on student achievement have been studied to some extent, there are far fewer analyses of school district experiences in implementing this innovation. More knowledge of past experiences in implementing diagnostic/prescriptive reading innovations could be useful in developing improved implementation strategies. This article summarizes the results of fieldwork designed to examine the implementation process in six diagnostic/prescriptive reading projects in local school districts.2


The purpose of this article is to present the findings of this research and to indicate some of the major barriers to implementation that were observed. These barriers have implications for the appropriate implementation strategy to use.


The fieldwork was done as part of a large Rand study of innovative projects in four federal programs: Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; Title VII (the Bilingual Program) of that same Act; the Vocational Education Act, Part D; and the Right-to-Read Program.3 Two of the reading projects examined in the fieldwork were in the Title IV program and four in the Right-to-Read program. Fieldwork data were collected through semistructured interviews with superintendents, project directors, principals, teachers, and others with a knowledge of the project, such as district office personnel or parents. Up to a week was spent in each project by two Rand staff members conducting these interviews.4

PROJECT CHARACTERISTICS


The six fieldwork projects were selected from among the sample of 293 included in the entire Rand study. The criteria for choosing them were that they should have involved the implementation of:


1. A hierarchical sequence of well-defined basic reading skills as a guide for teachers in planning classroom reading activities;


2. Diagnostic testing of student achievement with respect to these basic reading skills;


3. Individualization of reading activities in the classroom to provide each student with learning experiences designed to strengthen performance in skill areas of weakness detected through testing; and

4. Several other changes in conjunction with diagnostic/prescriptive reading— i.e., a total approach to reading improvement.


The first three of these criteria comprise the basic components of a diagnostic/ prescriptive approach to reading.


The diagnostic/prescriptive approach to reading is an organizational, as distinct from an instructional, innovation in reading because the approach specifies only how teachers should organize their classroom activities for reading and leaves them theoretically free to use whatever instructional techniques (e.g., phonics or language experience) and reading materials they prefer and have available. The organizational implications of the diagnostic/prescriptive approach are that teachers must: (1) diagnose students' reading needs on an individual basis, (2) assign students to separate groups organized according to skill areas of reading need, (3) select appropriate instructional activities for each of these groups, and (4) reform these groups as the children progress in their reading abilities. The diagnostic/prescriptive approach allows grouping within a single classroom or, at a higher level of complexity, among several classrooms at any one grade level, or across several grade levels, with all teachers involved cooperating by specializing in the teaching of certain reading skills.


The diagnostic/prescriptive approach contrasts greatly with the traditional approach to the teaching of reading where students proceed lock-step through an instructional program decided upon by the teacher, perhaps early in the school year, with little or no periodic testing, and little adjustment of the curriculum to meet individual needs. Most teachers adjust their reading curriculum to individual students to some extent by giving some students extra help and by testing through interpreting informal cues; but with the diagnostic/prescriptive approach, instructional activities should be much more highly differentiated among students and much more frequently modified during the course of instruction.


For the purposes of our fieldwork, a total approach to reading improvement—the fourth selection criterion—was defined to be that the project:


1. Was aimed at changing the behavior of the regular classroom teachers in the project schools;


2. Included other components such as the introduction of learning centers into classrooms, reading resource centers, peer tutoring, or parent involvement; and


3. Involved all the students in the project schools, or at least all the students in several grades.


In practical terms, these criteria eliminated reading projects that were strictly tutorial or remedial in intent or did not have a sizeable inservice training component. Perhaps the key feature of the projects that were selected was that they were going directly to the classroom teachers instead of bypassing them by setting up auxiliary instructional components.


To give a better idea of what a "total approach" to reading improvement can involve, the most complex (and the most successful) of the reading projects included:


1. Removal of individual desks from classrooms and replacement with tables.


2. Media and learning centers in classrooms.


3. Use of gymnasiums, spare rooms, and other areas for specific learning activities.


4. Multiple and well-defined instructional components, two related to reading and others related to reading readiness.


5. A grouping strategy where students moved from room to room throughout the parts of the school day devoted to reading and reading-readiness activities.


6. A wealth of commercial materials (over twenty different programs) matched to each component and selected for specific purposes.


7. Instructional materials stored in the classroom and catalogued for use.


8. A separate reading center for intensive student drill in reading skills and staffed by a reading specialist and an aide.


9. Required participation of all teachers at each grade level included in the project, plus a specialist teacher to handle some of the learning tasks.


10. Classroom aides trained in the instructional materials used and assigned to specific teaching tasks.


11. Inservice training for teachers in the instructional materials used in class.


12. A resource person in each school readily accessible to teachers for help and advice.


13. An evaluation system to check on process implementation by teachers.


14. Diagnostic testing performed by specialist teachers.


15. Regular meetings with teachers to discuss problems.


16. A specific, high-quality, and yet simple project evaluation design.


The five other projects in the sample involved no more than one-half as many components, and three less than one-fourth as many. The rationale for the total approach to reading improvement is that, in the past, single changes in reading programs seldom led to dramatic improvement in reading achievement, and therefore such improvement is likely to come only if a coordinated series of changes is attempted.

COMMERCIAL READING SYSTEM


As the backbone of their diagnostic/prescriptive project, three of the projects incorporated a commercial reading system and one developed a reading system of its own. The other two projects relied on informal methods. A reading system provides at a minimum the sequence of reading skills to be taught, diagnostic tests, a mechanism for keeping records of student progress, and an index to commercially available reading materials specifying alternative instructional means for teaching each reading skill defined.

NUMBER OF SCHOOLS AND GRADE LEVELS


The six reading projects in the fieldwork sample differed significantly in the degree of change attempted. One variable has already been mentioned: the complexity of a project measured by the number of changes made in conjunction with diagnosis and prescription. Another variable was the number of schools included in the project. Two projects attempted implementation in an entire school district. One of these districts consisted of over 100 schools and the other of nine schools. A third project attempted implementation in a large number of schools in seven school districts. Three other projects attempted implementation in four schools or less within one district. One last variable was the number of grade levels initially included in the project. One included only primary grades, three included only primary and intermediate grades, and two included kindergarten through twelfth grade. All the projects were in central city school districts.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES


One of the central premises of the Rand Change-Agent Study was that implementation of educational innovations is best described as a mutually adaptive process, where both the innovation and the institutional setting in which the innovation is being implemented change during the course of implementation in interaction with each other. The implementation strategy in four of the reading projects closely followed this mutually adaptive model,5 since the diagnostic/prescriptive reading innovation was modified as it was implemented to cope with the individual organizational realities of each school in which implementation was attempted. In one of the other projects, the implementation strategy was at the extreme of coercion, since the project director used his exceptional authority to literally force all the project teachers into conforming to his highly specified instructional program.6 Few changes were made in this instructional program during implementation. In the sixth project, the other extreme of a linear implementation strategy was used, since the project staff developed a specific diagnostic/prescriptive reading system and then attempted to implement it in the schools through a series of inservice workshops. The innovation was not changed during implementation and the teachers were essentially free to choose what they wanted from the reading system. There was no follow-up into the classrooms or pressure on the teachers to conform to the innovation.

IMPLEMENTATION PROBLEMS


The kinds of modifications to the basic elements of a diagnostic/prescriptive approach to reading made by the projects revealed some of the common problems in implementing this innovation.

READING TEACHERS


In four out of the five reading projects that made a serious attempt to implement a diagnostic/prescriptive approach,7 an early decision was made to hire a full-time reading specialist teacher (or other specialist teachers) for each school involved in the project to aid in implementation. Efforts to implement the diagnostic/prescriptive approach thus appeared to have led the projects into making the modification to the basic diagnostic/prescriptive reading innovation of adding a specialist reading teacher. This adaptation was particularly significant because four of the six projects examined were in the Right-to-Read program, where the guidelines issued by the federal program office emphasized that projects should use existing resources as much as possible.


The roles of these reading teachers varied significantly among the projects and among the schools within projects. In some schools the reading teachers were the decision makers regarding project activities in their schools; in most schools they organized any formal inservice training sessions; in some schools they assisted with diagnostic testing and assigning students to groups; in others they managed the reading resource center. In most instances, the reading teachers performed more than one of these functions.


One other important function of the reading teachers was to serve as change agents in their assigned schools. In this role, the reading teachers worked informally with the teachers on a one-to-one basis to interest them in adopting the diagnostic/prescriptive approach and in finding solutions to their individual problems during implementation. The formal inservice training and the tangible elements of the projects generally appeared to have served a far less significant role in changing teacher behavior, since no teacher interviewed in any of the projects had decided and been able to implement the diagnostic/ prescriptive approach solely on the basis of the formal inservice training and whatever written instructions were provided. All of the teachers interviewed who had adopted some form of the diagnostic/prescriptive approach had changed either because of working with the reading teacher on an informal one-to-one basis or had been forced into changing by the authority structure of the project. After presentation of the formal elements of a project, the reading teachers typically started in to achieve change by finding one or two teachers who were receptive to change and working with them to implement diagnosis and prescription in their classrooms. As success was achieved, the reading teachers shifted their efforts to other teachers and gradually worked through the school. Sometimes the reading teachers approached teachers with the idea that they team with another teacher who had already made the change to the diagnostic/prescriptive approach. The more successful reading teachers spent considerable time "mapping" the social structure of the school by listening in the lunchroom, getting to know the teachers on a personal basis, and finding out who was interested in changing. Reading teachers who apparently had been successful in functioning as change agents felt that it took them about two years to change all of the teachers who could be changed. In summary, implementation of the diagnostic/prescriptive approach appeared to occur through a process of infiltration by the project reading teachers into the social structure of the school rather than through formal training activities.


Although performance of the change-agent role was critical to changing the behavior of teachers, many reading teachers apparently had difficulty functioning in this way and were a barrier to implementation of diagnosis and prescription or dropped out of their project. Most of the project reading teachers had formerly been classroom or remedial reading teachers and had not had previous experience in working with teachers. It was difficult for many of these teachers to make the transition to a resource mode—that is, working with teachers instead of with children. No project provided any training in how to function as a reading resource teacher, and thus it was a matter of sink or swim concerning this aspect of their responsibilities. Many sank. For example, in one project only six of the thirteen reading teachers who started were able to make the transition to the reading resource mode, and two of these had previous experience as resource teachers in other subject areas.

DIAGNOSTIC TESTING


The demands of the diagnostic/prescriptive approach for frequent in-class testing and for record keeping were the elements of the approach that generated the most teacher resistance. "Test, test, test is all we do," was a typical reaction, "It takes valuable time away from teaching." Clearly the test/teach/test style of teaching with detailed record keeping to keep track of student progress is not the way most teachers manage their classrooms now, and they did not readily see which other activities should be displaced for this testing and record keeping.


Testing and record keeping were implemented to a great extent in a project only if performed as an auxiliary service by the project reading or specialist teachers, or by a computerized service provided by the central office. In all such projects, these services were added to the project after it had begun and when it became apparent that without them the tests would not be given and the records would not be kept by the teachers. Providing the teachers with relief from testing and record keeping was the second kind of organizational adaptation to the reading project observed; the indications were that the school districts in which these projects were located planned to continue these services beyond the period of federal support to maintain teacher behavior.

READING SYSTEM ADAPTATIONS


Another notable kind of adaptation was in the projects (or schools within a project) that attempted to implement a commercial reading system. In all but one of these cases,8 the schools significantly modified the reading system according to their own perceptions of need. The situation was clearest in the schools that attempted to implement the Wisconsin Design for Reading Skill Development.9 Only one school in all the projects elected to implement the whole Wisconsin Design available at the time,10 and even in that case implementation was far from uniform across classrooms. Instead, schools chose to implement one component or another (the "Word Attack" component, for example, or the "Study Skills" component); and, in most cases, they implemented only parts of these components. Teachers' reasons for selecting one component and not others were usually difficult to determine, but were often variations on the themes of either that their students did not need all the skills specified by a reading system or that the highly structured approach to reading instruction required with a reading system is not useful for teaching students more than a small part of what they need to become good readers.

GRADE-LEVEL PROBLEMS


The reading projects had difficulty adapting to the peculiar characteristics of reading instruction at different grade levels. The two projects that included the high school level failed to have an effect at that level (in one of these projects, the one high school included was dropped in the first year; in the other, only tutorial components partly survived); in the three projects that attempted implementation at the intermediate and primary levels, success was usually greater at primary levels. The general reason why the projects had more difficulty at the higher grade levels was the incompatibility of the diagnostic/prescriptive approach with the organization of the schools at those levels. In the high schools, it was not clear which teachers should implement diagnosis and prescription in their classrooms. Usually it was the English teachers, but they frequently did not consider reading improvement to be their responsibility, had classes in which most of the students did not need reading instruction, did not have access to a wealth of instructional materials coded for reading skills and suitable for high school students, and were usually far less knowledgeable about methods of teaching reading than primary level teachers, one of whose main responsibilities is the teaching of reading. The projects had trouble at the intermediate grade levels for similar reasons, though not to the same degree as at the high school level. Another factor was that high school and intermediate level teachers thought that reading was a job for primary level teachers, notwithstanding exhortations by the projects that reading could and should be taught in all subject matter areas.


Teaching reading at the intermediate and high school levels requires different instructional materials, and perhaps different definitions of reading skills, different diagnostic tests, and different grouping strategies than at the primary levels. The projects did not generally have the resources to meet these realities. The adaptation was generally to drop the higher grade levels from the projects.

EFFECTS OF PLANNING


Although the sample of only six projects is not large enough to draw a firm conclusion, there appeared to be a significant difference between the four Right-to-Read funded projects and the two Title III funded projects in the number and extent of other kinds of adaptations. In one Title III project, the director resigned at the end of the second year over a difference in educational philosophy with the superintendent, staffing problems, and difficulties in working with the schools. After the project director left, a substantial shift was mandated by the superintendent from an informal approach to diagnosis and prescription, to implementing the Wisconsin Design reading system. The shift in project activities was so drastic as to produce an almost entirely new project, except that most of the staff of reading teachers was continued. In the other Title III project, the original main objective of providing reading specialist teachers and resources to the participating schools to assist them in implementing the diagnostic/prescriptive approach was dropped, and effort was shifted to providing tutorial services in the schools and after-hours workshops for volunteer teachers.11 The four Right-to-Read projects underwent far less severe shifts in the nature of their activities.


The reason why the Right-to-Read projects underwent less severe adaptations appears related to the planning process and organizational structure that Right-to-Read projects were expected to follow. Right-to-Read issued guidelines that each school in a project, through the mechanism of a Unit Task Force broadly representative of all school staff, should select its own version of a diagnostic/prescriptive approach to reading. Right-to-Read also provided a so-called "eleven-step planning process kit" to aid the Unit Task Forces in making their selections. The kit included a detailed need assessment procedure.


Although each Right-to-Read project followed the guidelines differently (in two of the four Right-to-Read projects, for example, the participating schools decided jointly on what changes to make in their reading programs), the flexibility provided by school-based decision making, the participation of staff from the schools in decision making, and the overview of project objectives obtained through participation in conducting the needs assessment and filling out the steps in the planning process appeared to overcome some of the problems that appeared in the Title III projects. In contrast, both of the Title III projects were planned by groups outside the schools in which implementation was attempted with no participation by these schools in the planning process. The first exposure of these schools to the project was after implementation began.


In commenting on the Right-to-Read needs, assessment procedure and planning process, one respondent said, "It sets the stage. With needs assessment (and planning procedure), you don't feel as if you're thrown into it" (the diagnostic/prescriptive approach). We interpreted this comment to mean that the needs assessment and planning procedure served the purpose of introducing project staff to the kinds of changes involved in implementing a diagnostic/ prescriptive approach to reading and guiding them into initial implementation. The steps in the Right-to-Read needs assessment and planning process are analogous to the procedures of performing diagnosis and prescription in the classroom: First, students' skill needs are assessed, then instructional materials are selected, and so forth.


Contrary to what might be expected, the information that surfaced through the needs assessment and planning processes seldom produced any surprises that led planning group members to select alternatives that departed substantially from trends already underway in the district or in the school or were not in line with their previous experiences. For example, if a parent on the planning team had been involved in organizing tutoring programs, then the reading project had a tutoring program; or if planning group members were interested in diagnostic testing, then major effort was devoted to developing diagnostic tests. In summary, the Right-to-Read planning processes seemed to serve more for the purposes of giving the participants an overview of the change that they were going to attempt and involving them in the process of change than as a means of developing information that affected decisions.

IMPLEMENTED CHANGE


The degree of change implemented in the six diagnostic/prescriptive reading projects varied greatly. The project that followed a coercive implementation strategy was by far the most successful in changing teacher behavior and improving student scores on diagnostic tests. Implementation in this project was complete and uniform across classrooms. But except for one school in another project, which was also highly successful, the overall pattern in the other five projects was piecemeal implementation of change with none of these less successful projects accomplishing substantially more than the others.

EFFECTS ON TEACHERS


The effects on teachers in the highly successful project and the one successful school in another project were substantial but hard to summarize succinctly because different teachers were affected differently. Obvious behavior changes were that the teachers in these successful instances conformed to the scheduling demands of these projects for grouping their students and sending them to other classrooms. Less obvious but probably more significant kinds of changes were indicated by one teacher who said, "As a result of this project, I now see differences in my kids that I did not see before and how to teach to those differences." She was referring to the different reading skill needs that her students could have and how she could individualize instructional activities in her classroom to meet these needs. She indicated that previously she had grouped students in her classroom as to whether they were slow, average, or fast readers based largely on the results of standardized achievement tests. Now she saw that "slow" and "fast" readers might have the same skill deficiencies and needs for learning, and what she could do about it.


Few teachers in any project appeared to have changed their whole approach to teaching, as might be expected to happen in a project concerned with changing the whole structure of a school (such as by the establishment of open classrooms). Most of the teachers interviewed were asked the open-ended question of how the project had affected their teaching in other subject areas, and few replied that a major change had occurred.


Many teachers interviewed in the less successful projects were strongly opposed to their diagnostic/prescriptive project on the grounds that it required too much emphasis on decoding skills when they thought that broader reading goals were more important, such as reading motivation, being able to get the main idea from a paragraph, and thinking critically. "Word attack, word attack, that's all we teach," one project teacher said, "and that's not enough." The generic problem in these instances was that the structure and emphasis of the skills hierarchies used in the reading projects were not compatible with the instructional approaches to reading that some of the teachers had been trained in and had used for years. These were cases where the professionalism of teachers, which is perhaps greater in the area of reading than in other subject matter areas, was a barrier to implementation.


In the project where a coercive implementation strategy was used, the teachers complained that their teaching had become dull and routine but grudgingly acknowledged that the children had greatly benefited. One teacher summarized the situation with a comment that "it's boring for me but it works for the kids." In contrast, the principals were highly enthusiastic.

DIAGNOSIS WITHOUT PRESCRIPTION


Because of unanticipated organizational problems that caused delays, two of the projects failed to reach the stage of providing teachers with access to libraries of skill-referenced reading materials, and, as a consequence, few of these teachers appeared to have made much progress toward establishing skill-oriented instruction in their reading groups. In one of these projects there was a serious teacher strike that disrupted implementation for a year and in the other a serious conflict between the project director and the superintendent that delayed implementation. Without access to a library of skill-referenced materials, either in the classroom or in a resource center in the school, the teachers faced the problem of locating enough skill-referenced materials to keep their reading groups going. They apparently had not been willing or did not have the expertise to assemble their own libraries of materials.

TOTAL APPROACH IMPLEMENTATION


Except in the one project where implementation was complete, the idea of a total approach to diagnostic/prescriptive reading improvement suffered the same fate as the reading system: Most schools adopted only a few parts of a project's total approach, usually different parts, while other schools implemented almost no changes. Typically, the most successfully implemented component was learning centers, which would often be adopted by teachers even though they made no other changes in their classroom organization or teaching methods. Another common outcome was that parent involvement usually failed when it was tried. There were instances of both success and failure in implementing most other components of a total approach, such as reading resource centers and peer tutoring.

NUMBER OF SCHOOLS INVOLVED


There was a high negative correlation between the amount of change implemented by a project and the number of schools that were involved,12 as might be expected in projects as complex as those examined. The most successful project had only two schools, while the two projects with large numbers of schools had little significant classroom change. The other projects were somewhere in the middle on both counts.

COMMERCIAL READING SYSTEMS


There was also a correlation between the use of a commercial reading system and the degree of behavioral change: The project that involved the implementation of a whole array of commercial programs in the one school, in a project that implemented the whole Wisconsin Design, achieved the most change. Perhaps the situation was clearest in the project that switched to the implementation of the Wisconsin Design in its third year. The teachers in this project generally reported that it was most useful to them in the third year. Basically, the reason was that the changes expected of them in the third year were more specific.

CONTINUATION


The prognosis for continuation of the six reading projects is mixed. One has two years to go on its grant, three will probably collapse if federal funds are withdrawn, and two will undoubtedly continue.


In both of the projects that will be continued the superintendents strongly support continued implementation and certainly represent the decisive factor in continuation. Although neither project has shown significant gains in reading achievement scores, the superintendents value their projects as a way of defining a reading curriculum for their districts and providing a means of transferring information about students' reading abilities along with them when they move from school to school.


The most successful diagnostic/prescriptive reading project is one of the three that will not be continued next year unless they obtain additional federal funds. The reasons for discontinuance are complex and difficult to sort out as to their relative importance. One is that although the children in the project have shown dramatic gains in reading readiness and word-attack skills, they have not shown gains on reading achievement test scores; and district officials cite this as a reason why they will not support the project for widespread adoption within the district. Another factor is race: The director is white and the district is highly politicized over the black/white issue. Another is the personality of the project director, who is strong-willed, forceful, and not bashful about confronting teachers—qualities that go a long way toward explaining why the project has been so successful but that have also antagonized many people in the district.

CONCLUSIONS


The adaptations and implementation problems in the six reading projects indicate how potent organizational factors were in affecting project outcomes. Theoretically, the high specificity of the diagnostic/prescriptive approach to reading as compared to many other kinds of educational innovations should have facilitated implementation. In fact, four of the six reading projects involved the implementation of packaged reading systems. Nevertheless, in all but one project where a coercive implementation strategy was used, the outcomes were in general piecemeal implementation of change. Teacher resistance to the routine of testing and the emphasis on decoding implicit in diagnostic/ prescriptive reading, external events such as a teachers' strike in one project, and the grade-level structure of schools were all factors that in various ways gradually eroded the initial project plans until only marginal changes were implemented.


One of the conclusions from the six reading projects regarding strategy for overcoming these organizational factors is that implementation of the diagnostic/prescriptive approach requires substantial extra resources. Ideally, implementation of the diagnostic/prescriptive approach would require extra resources only during initial implementation—for example, to provide for in-service training—but as teachers learn the procedures involved, become secure in grouping students for reading instruction, and readjust their time allocations to provide the necessary time for testing and record keeping, the amount of extra resources required would diminish. However, school districts often found it necessary to hire reading teachers and to provide auxiliary support to handle testing and record keeping. Therefore, the organizational change implicit in diagnosis and prescription appears to require behavioral changes that teachers cannot or will not easily assimilate as routine behavior. Granted, the sample of projects in the fieldwork was small, which makes generalization precarious, but the evidence strongly suggests that diagnosis and prescription requires extra work that teachers will not often assume and that therefore must be performed through auxiliary means.


Another conclusion regarding implementation strategy is the importance of flexibility in the diagnostic/prescriptive reading innovation and one-on-one support for teachers. Except in the project where a coercive strategy was used, implementation occurred largely through a process of the reading teachers working with individual teachers informally and on a one-to-one basis to find ways of making diagnosis and prescription useful to them. In effect, implementation occurred through a process of adaptation and social interaction rather than formal decision making and training. Formal in-service training, which was provided in all of the projects, had little effect except perhaps to provide teachers with a general introduction to diagnostic/prescriptive methods.


As a final note, these conclusions emphasize the commonalities among the six reading projects studied, which was at the expense of not summarizing the rich variety of events that occurred and important idiosyncracies. For purposes of developing improved implementation strategies, it may be the commonalities among the reading projects that are important but the perspective should not be lost that in reality each project was very different. As the doctor says in T. S. Eliott's play, The Cocktail Party, "All cases are unique but very similar to others."




Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 77 Number 3, 1976, p. 352-365
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 1292, Date Accessed: 1/22/2022 9:15:16 PM

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