Margaret Dougherty


Alan Stoskopf, Carolyn Cragin

Date of Award


Date Accepted


Degree Grantor

Northeastern University

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Department or Academic Unit

College of Professional Studies, Department of Education


education, reading instruction, adult learning theory, differentiation, kegan, professional learning communities, response to intervention, vygotsky




This qualitative summative program review study investigated literacy instruction and differentiation at the first and second grade level. The site of this program review was in a small suburban school with students who are English language learners, special education students, and regular education students. The sample population of teachers and students from grade one and two would be considered a purposeful sample. Student curriculum based assessment measures and staff surveys were collected and analyzed to investigate and answer the following questions:

1. How does the reorganization of literacy instruction impact teaching and student learning?

2. How are teachers impacted by the implementation of professional learning communities with a focus on differentiated literacy instruction at the first and second grade levels?

This program review will allow the staff at this school to understand if a differentiated literacy block met the needs of diverse learners.

Key findings:

1. The teaching staff perceived that the amount of students placed in various literacy block groups hampered student learning and teacher efficacy.

2. The original grouping plan of Literacy Block may have best met the needs of the students.

3. The staffing of the Literacy Block is crucial to sustaining the initiative, meeting the needs of the diverse learners, and building teachers' efficacy beliefs.

4. Teachers need to work with students based upon their skills and credentials not solely based on his or her teaching preferences.

5. The staff involved in Literacy Block was hesitant to claim this block of literacy instruction as tier two of a Response to Intervention (RTI) model.

6. The teachers were confident in understanding formative assessment tools and using the data to drive their instruction.

7. Involvement with a Professional Learning Community (PLC) benefitted students and encouraged staff members to look at their own teaching practices and professional development.

Key words: Literacy Instruction, Differentiation, Response to Intervention, Professional Learning Communities, Flexible Grouping

Document Type

Doctoral Thesis

Rights Information

copyright 2011

Rights Holder

Jennifer Curtis-Whipple

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