The effectiveness of direct instruction in reading compared to a state-mandated language arts curriculum for ninth and tenth graders with specific learning disabilities

Kathleen M Airhart, Tennessee State University


This quasi-experimental study measured the effects of a Direct Instruction reading program within the state mandated language arts curriculum. The study aimed to determine if a specific reading program made a difference in reading abilities, pass rate on the Gateway Language Arts exam, and student perceptions of reading. The 104 high school students with specific learning disabilities (SLD) that participated in the study were enrolled in eight 90 minute yearlong resource classrooms in three high schools. Students in the comparison groups were taught the state language arts curriculum using the county adopted text which included components of literature, spelling, vocabulary, writing, and grammar. The Corrective Reading program was substituted in place of the literature and spelling components for the experimental group for 15 weeks. Students were pre and post tested using the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT-R) and the Test of Reading Comprehension (TORC-3) and surveyed using the Reader Self-Perception Survey. Recommended tenth grade students completed the Gateway Language Arts examination. Statistical analyses were used to determine significance between the two groups: independent t-tests for the WRAT-R reading and spelling and the TORC-3 comprehension to determine difference in pretest abilities; paired t-tests for the WRAT reading and spelling to determine posttest significance; analysis of covariance to determine significance in posttest results for comprehension; and independent t-test to determine Gateway pass rate differences. Descriptive statistics were used to compare differences in pre and post on the Reader Self-Perception Scale. Statistical significance was found in spelling abilities with the experimental group exceeding the comparison group. Statistical significance was found in both comprehension abilities and Gateway pass rate with the comparison group exceeding the experimental group. Greater mean gains were made by the experimental group in tests of decoding, spelling, and comprehension. Greater increases in positive responses on the Reader Self-Perception Scale were exhibited by the experimental group. Recommendations were made to further examine the program over an extended period of time to determine if students could move into the average range of abilities in reading. Further recommendations included analyzing various methods of teaching reading to SLD adolescents and using alternate dependent measures to analyze gains.

Subject Area

Literacy|Reading instruction|Language arts|Special education

Recommended Citation

Kathleen M Airhart, "The effectiveness of direct instruction in reading compared to a state-mandated language arts curriculum for ninth and tenth graders with specific learning disabilities" (2005). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3203168.