Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Jamison D. Fargo


Jamison D. Fargo


Scott C. Bates


Parker C. Fawson


Donna Gilbertson


Karl White


Regardless of age, background, or socioeconomic status, children must learn to read in order to be successful in school and in their future careers. Reading is an essential skill necessary to be successful in all other academic content areas. Despite the importance of this skill, American Indian children consistently score below the national average on tests of reading ability and reading comprehension. During recent years, many schools in the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) system requested funding through the Reading First initiative. Schools used the funding and support provided by the BIE Reading First grant to attempt system-wide change at the school level in order to refocus efforts on increasing reading achievement. The current study investigated the impact of the Reading First Initiative on American Indian students in kindergarten through third grade. Results suggest that the models and methods employed using funding from the Reading First grant had a positive impact on certain aspects of reading achievement in students. Instructional Leadership Changes had a negative impact on student achievement while certain reading programs were found to have a more positive impact on some students than others. Furthermore, regardless of beginning of year reading level, all students showed increased gain in end-of-year outcome scores over time. Same grade cohort groups of students in kindergarten, second, and third grades demonstrated increased average scores over time as schools continued to implement Reading First models. Finally, while the gap between students with intensive needs and their peers was not erased, it also did not widen. Based on research indicating gain for these students is often below that of their peers, this is an important finding. Thus, it appears that the impact of Reading First in relation to teaching younger students the basic building blocks needed to read with fluency in the later grades was positive in the current sample.




This work made publicly available electronically on August 2, 2010.