As Palardy (2015) shows, first grade is where the achievement gap begins to develop among students. Ferrer et al. (2015) show that the achievement gap begins in first grade and persists well into adolescence: in order to address the achievement gap, the best step is to take preventive measures. This action research study plans to address the problem of the achievement gap by getting first graders to focus on reading and get them interested in reading by following the recommendation of Moses and Kelly (2018), which is to condition young learners to love reading by continuously promoting it in a favorable and positive light. In other words, by socializing reading and using child-centered teaching methods (Kikas, Pakarinen, Soodla, Peets & Lerkkanen, 2017; Moses & Kelly, 2018), first grade teachers can help to close the achievement gap.
The study setting is my first grade classroom. This setting was chosen because first grade has been identified as the grade level at which the achievement gap begins to appear (Palardy, 2015). It was also chosen because I am a first grade teacher and have direct access to and interaction with students of this grade level.
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The problem is that the achievement gap exists and prevents schools from achieving equitability in education. The impact of diversity on this problem is that, as Ferrer et al. (2015) point out, minority students tend to be the ones who suffer most from the achievement gap.
The purpose of this study is to test the recommendation of Moses and Kelly (2018) to see if by promoting and socializing reading in a positive and consistent manner over the course of the first grade year all students, regardless of their ethnic or socio-economic background can adopt positive views of reading, establish favorite authors and types of books, choose reading as a the preferred way to recreate as opposed to other activities, make reading part of their social interactions, and demonstrate comprehension skills in line with or above their reading
All students from the first grade level and up could benefit from the findings of this study because it could show that by addressing reading promotion early on in the educative experience of young learners the achievement gap problem can be more effectively addressed, as reading is such a core aspect of learning.
Barker, D., Quennerstedt, M. & Annerstedt, C. (2015). Inter-student interactions and student learning in health and physical education: a post-Vygotskian analysis. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 20(4), 409-426.
Ferrer, E., Shaywitz, B. A., Holahan, J. M., Marchione, K. E., Michaels, R., & Shaywitz,S. E. (2015). Achievement gap in reading is present as early as first grade and persists through adolescence. The Journal of Pediatrics, 167(5), 1121-1125.
Kikas, E., Pakarinen, E., Soodla, P., Peets, K., & Lerkkanen, M. K. (2017). Associations Between Reading Skills, Interest in Reading, and Teaching Practices in First Grade. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 1-18.
Moses, L., & Kelly, L. B. (2018). ‘We’re a little loud. That’s because we like to read!’:Developing positive views of reading in a diverse, urban first grade. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 18(3), 307-337.
Palardy, G. (2015). Classroom-based inequalities and achievement gaps in first grade: The role of classroom context and access to qualified and effective teachers. Teachers College Record, 117(2), 1-48.