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Literacy Findings

Research library

Researchers at the Iowa Reading Research Center routinely publish their work in peer-reviewed national and international journals, books, and other published reports. Their work addresses literacy issues in a variety of topics and with a range of ages.

The following reports were authored or co-authored by Iowa Reading Research Center staff. You can find abstracts of those publications by researcher below.

Findings by Researcher

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

The Contribution of General Reading Ability to Science Achievement

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

This study explored the relationship between the reading ability and science achievement of students in grades 5, 8, and 9. Reading ability was assessed with four measures: word recognition, vocabulary, syntactic knowledge, and comprehension (23% of all passages were on science topics). Science achievement was assessed with state criterion–referenced measures.

Examining potential bias in screening measures for middle school students by special education and low socioeconomic status subgroups

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

To provide timely and effective supports for students reading below grade level, schools require methods for quickly and accurately identifying those students in need. One method for identifying those students is through universal screening. Assessments such as oral reading fluency (ORF) and Maze reading comprehension are commonly used as screening assessments in middle grades.

The Contribution of Vocabulary Knowledge and Spelling to the Reading Comprehension of Adolescents Who Are and Are Not English Language Learners

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

This study examined the contributions of vocabulary and spelling to the reading comprehension of students in grades 6–10 who were and were not classified as English language learners. Results indicate that vocabulary accounted for greater between-grade differences and unique variance (ΔR 2 = .11–.31) in comprehension as compared to spelling (ΔR 2 = .01–.09).

Improving comprehension for middle and high school students

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

The focus of this Springer Literacy Edition is to provide the most current research regarding instruction in the area of comprehension for middle and high school students. Each author of the first four chapters will focus on a core subject area in middle and high school and discuss the current research along with instructional implications for this particular population.

A synthesis of morphology interventions and effects on reading outcomes for students in grades K-12

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

This article synthesized the morphology intervention studies conducted in English with students in kindergarten through 12th grade between 1986 and 2006. Seven studies were identified as focusing primarily on morphology instruction, including roots and affixes, and measuring one or more reading-related outcomes (e.g., word identification, spelling, vocabulary, reading comprehension).

A review of the psychometric properties of retell instruments

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

This narrative synthesis reviews the psychometric properties of commercially and publicly available retell instruments used to assess the reading comprehension of students in grades K–12. Eleven instruments met selection criteria and were systematically coded for data related to the administration procedures, scoring procedures, and technical adequacy of the retell component.

Retell as an indicator of reading comprehension

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

The purpose of this narrative synthesis is to determine the reliability and validity of retell protocols for assessing reading comprehension of students in grades K-12. Fifty-four studies were systematically coded for data related to the administration protocol, scoring procedures, and technical adequacy of the retell component.

Examiner error in curriculum-based measurement of oral reading

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

Although curriculum based measures of oral reading (CBM-R) have strong technical adequacy, there is still a reason to believe that student performance may be influenced by factors of the testing situation, such as errors examiners make in administering and scoring the test. This study examined the construct-irrelevant variance introduced by examiners using a cross-classified multilevel model.

Reading practices in the juvenile correctional facility setting: Incarcerated adolescents speak out

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

This multi-phasic, qualitative study explored the perceptions and provision of research-based reading instruction in the juvenile correctional facility setting. In three settings in two states, we interviewed students (n D 17), teachers (n D 5), and administrators (n D 3); and conducted two focus groups (n D 8), student surveys (n D 49), and seven observations of reading instruction.

A Synthesis of peer mediated academic interventions for secondary struggling learners

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

A synthesis of the extant research on peer-mediated reading and math interventions for students in regular or alternative education settings with academic difficulties and disabilities in Grades 6 to 12 (ages 11–18) is presented. Interventions conducted between 2001 and 2012 targeting reading and math were included if they measured effects on at least one academic outcome measure.

An examination of text complexity as characterized by readability and cohesion

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

To better understand dimensions of text complexity and their impact on the comprehension of adolescents, 103 high school seniors were randomly assigned to four groups. Each group read versions of the same two informational passages and answered comprehension test items targeting factual recall and inferences of causal content.

A Comparison of General and Content-Specific Literacy Strategies for Learning Science Content

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

This study employed an adapted alternating treatments single-case design to explore students’ learning of biology content when using a general note-taking (GNT) strategy and a content-specific graphic organizer (CGO) to support reading high school biology texts. The 4 focal participants were 15–18-year-olds committed to a moderate risk juvenile justice facility.

Research-Based Lessons That Support Student Independent Reading in Social Studies

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

High school social studies teachers face unique challenges in helping their students learn independently from text in their discipline. In this article, a set of research-based practices that couple independent student reading with high-quality instruction proven to improve content learning for high school nonnative English speakers is provided.

Plagiarism isn’t just an issue for students

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

Everyone is appalled at reports of rampant cheating among high school and college students, primarily by cutting and pasting from the Internet without providing citations. There are situations in real life where an individual suffered serious consequences for plagiarizing work. Many schools incorporate such scenarios in character education programs.

Improving comprehension for middle and high school students

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

This chapter includes three sections addressing historical, current, and emerging issues in teaching reading comprehension to students with disabilities. The first section reviews special education law, statistics, and practices as they relate to middle and school.

RTI for reading at the secondary level: Recommended literacy practices and remaining questions

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

Grounded in the best current knowledge, this book shows how to implement response to intervention (RTI) in middle and high school contexts. Detailed guidelines are presented for teaching reading comprehension, vocabulary, and other aspects of literacy across the content areas, and for providing effective interventions for students who require additional support.

Bringing literacy strategies into content instruction: Professional learning for secondary-level teachers

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

This document provides research-based guidance on academic literacy instruction in the content areas, specifically focusing on the effective use of text in content areas. It reviews the research evidence about content-area literacy instruction for adolescents and suggests ways teachers can use content-area texts to enable students to understand the vocabulary and concepts they contain.

The argument against Accelerated Reader

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

Addresses a concern that integrating packaged technology (such as Accelerated Reader) is taking precedence over maintaining theoretically sound instructional practices. Addresses several arguments against the use and effectiveness of the Accelerated Reader program.

Comprehension instruction for students with reading disabilities in grades 4 through 12

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

Many students with reading difficulties in grades 4 through 12 experience challenges in understanding and learning from text. Some of these learners have demonstrated reading challenges from the early grades and have not acquired successful reading skills. Others were adequate readers in the early grades when word reading was the focus and when text complexity was minimal.

Clearly communicating the learning objective matters!

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

Explicitly communicating objectives is a tenet of effective instruction for students with learning difficulties, yet the practice is often overlooked in research. This case study of a novice middle school geography teacher illustrates how the qualitative and quantitative differences in the ways a teacher communicates the learner expectation can influence both student learning and behavior.

Enhancing basal vocabulary instruction in kindergarten

Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.

In order to enhance the basal vocabulary instruction for kindergarten students at risk for reading difficulties, lessons provided in typical curricular materials can be supplemented with instructional elements derived from research.

Jessica Sidler Folsom, Ph.D.

Predicting kindergartners' end of year spelling ability from their reading, alphabetic, vocabulary, and phonological awareness skills, and prior literacy experiences

Jessica Sidler Folsom, Ph.D.

This study examined the role of home literacy, parental education, and demographic factors in addition to conventional literacy skills at the beginning and end of kindergarten in predicting end-of-kindergarten spelling achievement. The study involved 9 schools and 29 classrooms serving an economically and ethnically diverse population (N = 288).

Predicting first grade reading performance from kindergarten response to instruction

Jessica Sidler Folsom, Ph.D.

Many schools are beginning to implement multi-tier response to intervention (RTI) models for the prevention of reading difficulties and to assist in the identification of students with learning disabilities (LD). The present study was part of our larger ongoing longitudinal RTI investigation within the Florida Learning Disabilities Center grant.

Differentiating literacy growth of ELL students with LD from other high-risk subgroups and general education peers: Evidence from grades 3-10

Jessica Sidler Folsom, Ph.D.

The authors used a large data set (N = 1,011,549) to examine literacy growth over a single school year comparing general education (GenEd) students to three high-risk subgroups: English language learners (ELL), those with a specific learning disability (LD), and those identified as both LD and ELL (LD-ELL) in students in Grades 3-10.

Evaluating the dimensionality of first grade written composition

Jessica Sidler Folsom, Ph.D.

This study examined dimensions of written composition by using multiple evaluative approaches such as an adapted 6 + 1 trait scoring, syntactic complexity measures, and productivity measures. It further examined unique relations of oral language and literacy skills to the identified dimensions of written composition.

Assessment data-informed guidance to individualize kindergarten reading instruction: Findings from a cluster-randomized control field trial

Jessica Sidler Folsom, Ph.D.

The purpose of this cluster-randomized control field trial was to was to examine the extent to which kindergarten teachers could learn a promising instructional strategy, wherein kindergarten reading instruction was differentiated based upon students' ongoing assessments of language and literacy skills and documented child characteristic by instruction (CXI) interactions; and to test the effica

Language, literacy, and attentional behaviors, and instructional quality predictors of written composition for first graders

Jessica Sidler Folsom, Ph.D.

We had two primary purposes in the present study: (1) to examine unique child-level predictors of written composition which included language skills, literacy skills (e.g., reading and spelling), and attentiveness and (2) to examine whether instructional quality (quality in responsiveness and individualization, and quality in spelling and writing instruction) is uniquely related to written comp

Professional development to differentiate kindergarten Tier 1 instruction: Can already effective teachers improve student outcomes by differentiating Tier 1 instruction?

Jessica Sidler Folsom, Ph.D.

Two primary purposes guided this quasi-experimental within-teacher study: (a) to examine changes from baseline through 2 years of professional development (Individualizing Student Instruction) in kindergarten teachers’ differentiation of Tier 1 literacy instruction; and (b) to examine changes in reading and vocabulary of 3 cohorts of the teachers’ students (n = 416).

School reading performance and the extended school day policy in Florida

Jessica Sidler Folsom, Ph.D.

Florida law requires the 100 lowest performing elementary schools in reading to extend the school day by one hour to provide supplemental reading instruction. This study found that those schools were smaller than other elementary schools and served a higher proportion of racial/ethnic minority students and students eligible for the school lunch program.

Literacy development and language acquisition

Jessica Sidler Folsom, Ph.D.

Prolonged separation from a parent has been linked to emotional and academic consequences among children. Therefore, in this article, the authors used free videoconferencing to (a) deliver parental support for a student struggling with reading and (b) maintain a nurturing relationship between a geographically separated father and son.