Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. David Cowden

Second Advisor

Dr. Uldis Smidchens

Third Advisor

Dr. Gene Thompson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Charles Warfield


For many young children, the process of learning to read in school is cumbersome and extremely difficult. As a result, remedial or compensatory services are provided to these students. Once these at-risk students are targeted for remedial services, generally through the Chapter 1 program (Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 1965), they receive small group reading instruction from a specifically trained professional teacher. A problem occurs when these children, generally the poorest readers in their class, do not make significant gains when compared to their age-appropriate peers.

In the winter of 1988, a collaborative project between Western Michigan University and the Kalamazoo Public Schools, known as the Reading Connection, began linking university students with first grade students at risk of reading failure. Using very specific Reading Recovery (Clay, 1979) strategies, the university students tutored one-on-one with the very lowest functioning first grade students who were targeted to receive remedial services.

Four hundred eighty three first grade students participated in this study with 266 randomly selected to receive Reading Connection treatment, while the remaining 217 continued to receive small group service. The 266 students participating in the Reading Connection were randomly selected using a computerized random number generator that produced student numbers within a specified range.

The results indicated that the Reading Connection students scored significantly higher than their Chapter 1 counterparts on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (Hieronymous & Hoover, 1985). In addition, when using student attendance as an indicator of success in school, the Reading Connection students had a significantly higher rate of average daily attendance than the students receiving the traditional Chapter 1 services.

While positively supporting the hypothesis that there would be a difference between the two groups, this study also lent support to the importance of the predirected teaching professional experience, the Reading Recovery program in that, unlike Chapter 1 services, educational services can be delivered to young children at risk of reading failure that will cause them to break the pattern of the unsuccessful school experience.


Fifth Advisor: Dr. Pat Jenlink

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access