Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Jianping Shen


The purpose of this multiple case study was to understand the critical components to improve literacy learning for all students. The central focus of the study involved looking at principles for classroom instruction in reading and writing that are essential for students to become good readers and writers. According to Allington and Cunningham, the following principles are critical: (a) the amount of time students spend on reading and writing each day, (b) the explicit teaching of comprehension strategies, (c) modeling writing and reading daily, (d) student engagement in thoughtful literacy learning, and (e) literate rich classroom environments.

Six classrooms were selected to participate in the study, among them three 4th grade teachers whose students performed very well on the English Language Arts (ELA) section of the MEAP test and another three 4th grade teachers whose students performed poorly on the ELA section of the MEAP test. Reading and writing are assessed in the ELA section of the MEAP test. The classrooms were in schools that had a similar percentage of students from diverse backgrounds and a similar percentage of students on free and reduced lunch within an urban school district in the Midwest.

In the selected classrooms, the researcher observed and interviewed each teacher and looked for evidence to determine how effectively these five critical literacy principles were utilized by the teachers in the successful and unsuccessful 4th grade classrooms. The empirical data essentially supported the five principles by Allington and Cunningham. Implications of the study were discussed in terms of teacher evaluation, supervision, professional development, and teacher education.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access