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Mastering Reading Instruction (MRIn)
First grade teachers’ primary responsibility is to teach children to read. In order to better understand how teachers’ knowledge about reading relates to their students’ achievement, this professional development project (funded by a Teacher Quality research grant) studied the relationships among what a teacher knows about reading, how reading is taught in the classroom, and what students’ performance is on a variety of reading assessment measures. Professional development and classroom support in 37 schools with more than 60 teachers took place over two academic years, 2004-2006.

All of the first grade teachers in MRIn received the same professional development in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Half also benefited from the placement of a Haskins-trained mentor in the classroom to help translate reading research into effective instructional practice.

Mastering Reading Instruction was a continuation of the Early Reading Success Initiative, a professional development project whose purpose was to use scientific research in reading to support teachers in their knowledge and practice of effective reading instruction. This support was given through a systematic delivery system of professional development based on the National Reading Panel’s recommendations for comprehensive literacy instruction.

The goal of all of our professional development work is to create ‘method-proof’ teachers – that is, teachers who can teach any child to read with any reading program.

Preliminary MRIn Results

The results that follow report the effects of two types of Haskins professional development (PD): monthly PD with a weekly in-school Haskins mentor (Mentor group) and monthly PD without the weekly in-school support of a Haskins mentor (PD group).

More complete results will be available in Spring 2007.

  • Both mentor and PD group will show gains in teacher knowledge.
  • Mentor group will show better transfer to teacher practices and student achievement.
  • Teacher attitudes will moderate the benefits of PD.
  • The starting point and gains from PD will vary systematically with school poverty level.

Comparing two models of professional development after one year of PD
(Monthly workshops by mentors versus monthly workshops plus weekly in-class support by mentors):

  • Teacher knowledge about scientifically based reading instruction—phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension—increased for both groups of teachers.
  • Teacher knowledge increased significantly more in the condition that had in-class mentors to support and coach teachers.
  • With high quality Haskins mentors providing professional development, both versions of MRIn PD (with or without in-school mentor support) produced significant gains in teacher knowledge. It is important to note that gains in knowledge were larger than gains in similar studies; but there is still room for improvement. Few teachers reached the ceiling level of “mastery” on the Teacher Knowledge Survey.

Professional Dev. Chart

Professional Dev. Chart

  • Student achievement was significantly higher than the no treatment control for BOTH kinds of PD.
  • Teacher attitudes were generally positive in both conditions; and gave high accolades for in-class support.

“I always thought my students could make more progress. After working with Haskins this year, I feel empowered.”
“I cannot begin to describe what an impact MRIn has had on my life. Professionally I have grown in my ability to deliver instruction and my knowledge of reading development. I now have a renewed sense of energy and motivation. I know that I have the knowledge and ability to teach every first grader to read.”
“I received minimal training throughout my college career. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be part of this project I feel confident that because of this PD I can teach each student to read.”

Examining the effects of one vs. two years of Professional Development
(with in-class mentor group)

  • Teachers’ knowledge transferred to improved student achievement in the teachers’ first year of Haskins training, and even more so in the teachers’ second year. This finding supports our research hypothesis that, with time, teachers as adult learners can obtain new knowledge and effectively put it into classroom practice.

Student Performance Chart

*= Statistically significant

Student Performance Chart
*= Statistically significant

Student Performance-Word ID

In the fall, the no-mentor group was significantly higher than the mentor-yr-1 group and than the mentor-yr-2 group. (The 2 mentor groups were not significantly different in the fall.) The mentor-yr-1 group caught up to the no-mentor group by spring. The mentor-yr-2 group caught up to the no-mentor group and surpassed it, ending up with a significantly higher mean by spring. The improvement from mentor-yr-1 to mentor-yr-2 scores did not reach significance.

Student Performance-Sentence

The no-mentor group was not significantly different from the mentor-yr-1 group in the fall. (Sentence Comprehension was not administered in fall for the mentor-yr-2 group.)

Exemplary versus Other Teachers
In the condition with in-class mentor support, mentors saw a variation in teachers’ implementation of systematic, explicit instruction. Mentors rated each on components of direct instruction and identified 18 of the 55 as ‘exemplary’.

  • Students of “exemplary” teachers outperformed students of non-exemplary teachers on measures of phonemic awareness.

  • Differences between teachers in response to training were noteworthy. Teacher attitudes are a critical variable.

Mentor Condition