Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

College of Education and Human Development

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction, PhD

Committee Chair

Tretter, Thomas R.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Overturf, Brenda

Committee Member

Kyle, Diane

Committee Member

Howell, Penny

Committee Member

Chisholm, James


Reading (Secondary)--Social aspects; Academic achievement


Reading underachievement among adolescent students, specifically in urban areas, has been well documented in the literature. This unfortunate reality may point to two problems in America. Many schools possess neither the skill to prepare students for college and career nor possess the capacity to prepare them for a workforce that is becoming more and more high tech and in need of literate workers. Some schools are at a loss when it comes to teaching students to think of literacy as a critical tool for self-advocacy and identity development. Sociocultural perspectives on literacy view reading as an activity that develops as one interacts with the surrounding environment. It is not illogical to think that schools and school districts would have a positive impact on how adolescents read how much they read, and how successful they are at that particular task of reading. This dissertation is divided into five chapters. The first chapter begins with an overview of the state of adolescent literacy in America and in Unity School District (a pseudonym), where the study takes place. There is a discussion of the definition of sociocultural theory which is the theory that grounds this study, and how that plays a part in student literacy learning. Motivation theory is discussed and how student motivation plays a part in the use of scripted reading programs. That discussion is followed up by a discussion of the high stakes testing environment and the use of scripted reading programs in many urban school districts. Motivation theory is discussed and how student motivation plays a part in the use of scripted reading programs. Some scripted programs are described and a rationale for this present study is made. The second chapter begins with a review of major legislation over the past fifteen years that affected not only literacy but every content area. I discuss current changes due the Obama administration that have helped states reach their goals. Reading trend data is given as well as what is considered to be effective literacy instruction for adolescents. The focus is narrowed to discussing African-American males due to the fact that only 17% in this subgroup at the eighth-grade score at or above the proficient level in literacy (NCES, 2013). This subgroup makes up the great majority of the students in scripted interventions. Chapter Three focuses on the research methods utilized to answer each research question. This study was mixed methods using quantitative methods, descriptive statistics as well as qualitative methods for one-on-one interview questions with a subgroup of students in the study. In Chapter Four, the results of the quantitative data is featured, showing that all four reading programs yielded student reading growth. Findings from the interviews helped to shed light on the reading growth experienced from the quantitative analysis. Chapter Five gives an interpretation of the data through a sociocultural lens and provides suggestions for future research and next steps. This study will help to deepen our understanding of some of the complexities of the adolescent reader as well as what pedagogical practices will help these students want to engage in reading This study will help to inform the classroom teacher as to which instructional practices motivate the adolescent reader more than others.