Subscribe Today
Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13

Classroom, School, and District Impacts on Diverse Student Literacy Achievement

by Kristen Campbell Wilcox , Hal A. Lawson & Janet Angelis - 2015

Background/Context:Prior research has investigated the literacy achievement gap with particular focus on ethnically and linguistically diverse students’ performance. This study extends that research by examining the relationships among classroom instructional practices, school priorities, and district policies in higher performing schools.

Purpose/ Research Question: The purpose of the study was to identify differences between schools with typical literacy performance among diverse students and schools where diverse students exceeded predicted performance. Primary research questions were: What qualities of literacy instruction are characteristic of elementary schools with higher literacy achievement among ethnically and linguistically diverse students? Compared to schools with average literacy achievement among diverse students, what are the proximal and distal factors that describe and explain significantly different diverse student literacy achievement outcomes?

Setting: Fifteen elementary schools in New York State provided the sample. All serve ethnically and/or linguistically diverse students. Ten of these schools were classified as higher performing based on three years of state assessment data for diverse students; five were classified as average performing based on the same assessments.

Research Design: This study was a comparative multiple case study using mixed methods.

Data Collection/Analysis: Two researchers visited each school for two days interviewing 12–15 teachers and administrators using a semistructured interview protocol. They also collected documents (e.g., district goals, curriculum, lesson plans), and constructed interpretive memos. All interviews and memos were coded using HyperResearch software and documents were used to triangulate findings. Axial coding and matrices were used to identify salient proximal and distal contrasts between cases.

Findings:. Practices between the two sets of schools differed at three levels: classrooms, schools, and district office. Differences included the extent and effectiveness of differentiated and technology-enriched literacy instruction and how coherently school and district policies and practices supported and sustained effective classroom practices. Higher performing schools showed evidence of the use of at least 90-minute balanced literacy blocks that embedded support (e.g., ESL and Special Education). Also in these schools, teachers reported relevant professional development and supports for collaborative work and instructional coaching.

Conclusions: Factors and forces in the classrooms, schools, and district offices, and especially in their relations help to account for differences in the two sets of schools. These forces and factors are malleable and actionable, i.e., ones that school and district leaders can do something about in their quest to improve the literacy achievement levels of diverse students.

To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
Purchase this Article
Purchase Classroom, School, and District Impacts on Diverse Student Literacy Achievement
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 117 Number 9, 2015, p. 1-38
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18049, Date Accessed: 9/24/2021 2:42:29 AM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
Article Tools
Related Articles

Related Discussion
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • Kristen Wilcox
    University at Albany
    E-mail Author
    KRISTEN CAMPBELL WILCOX is an assistant professor in the Educational Theory and Practice Department of the University at Albany. A former ESL and EFL teacher in the U.S. Puerto Rico and Brazil, her areas of research interest have focused on the intersections of language, culture, and academic achievement among diverse youth. She has published her research findings in such journals as Education and Urban Society, Research in the Teaching of English, Reading & Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and Cultural Studies: Critical Methodologies.
  • Hal A. Lawson
    University at Albany
    E-mail Author
    HAL A. LAWSON is Professor of Educational Administration and Policy Studies and also Professor of Social Welfare. This joint appointment reflects his interests in partnerships among schools, families, community agencies, neighborhood organizations, governments, businesses, and higher education institutions. Partnerships formed to meet the needs of vulnerable populations and their communities and ones involving laypersons’ leadership and expertise comprise a special priority. Recent articles have been published in the Peabody Journal of Education, Review of Educational Research, Journal of Family Strength, and Children & Schools.
  • Janet Angelis
    University at Albany
    E-mail Author
    JANET IVES ANGELIS is Associate Director of the Albany Institute for Research in Education in the University at Albany School of Education. Originally a middle school teacher, she has spent most of her career actively working to bring research results to schools, classrooms, and districts in usable forms and formats. Her research interests focus primarily on how research is used in practice. Recent articles have been published in Phi Delta Kappan, Educational Leadership, the Kappan blog, and state professional and policy journals and newsletters.
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue