This study examined elementary student literacy performance in Lancaster School District in kindergarten through 5th grades for 6 elementary schools implementing the Reading First program and 6 elementary schools not implementing Reading First. Subgroup data for English Language Learners, Hispanic, and African American students was closely examined and compared with the literacy performance data of white students to determine whether implementation of the Reading First program has narrowed the achievement gap. The study also explored the relationship, if any, between the level of Reading First program implementation (RFII) and literacy achievement of students as measured by the English Language Arts (ELA) California Standards Test (CST) and the Reading First Achievement Index (RFAI). The study was quantitative in approach, multiple methods in design, and was conducted in 2 phases. Phase 1 was comparative and descriptive and explored observable trends in student achievement between Reading First and non-Reading First schools. Phase 2 was correlational and examined potential relationships between implementation of the Reading First program and student achievement. The study found that Reading First schools experienced greater growth in ELA student achievement than non-Reading First schools. In addition, the study revealed that implementation of Reading First strategies is likely to impact positively ELA CST student achievement outcomes for English Language Learners, African American, and Hispanic students in 2nd through 5th grades. The study found no correlation between the level of Reading First implementation and ELA CST student achievement based on RFII and CST data collected between 2005 and 2009. However, there was a statistically significant correlation between the level of Reading First implementation and the RFAI for the district. The study concluded that overall growth in literacy achievement of students in kindergarten through 5th grade did occur in the schools in which the essential components of the Reading First program were implemented with fidelity. It is, therefore, recommended that school districts work to develop district-wide literacy programs that utilize a comprehensive curriculum, offer coaching and structured professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators, and support student-centered collaboration that monitors student learning based on data.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational leadership, administration and policy; Literacy programs; Reading First Program (U.S.)

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Purrington, Linda;