PROCESSES, PRACTICES, AND POLICIES AS POTENTIAL PATHWAYS TOWARD LITERACY ACHIEVEMENT AMONG EIGHTH GRADE STUDENTS
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Purpose The purpose of this mixed methods research study was twofold. First, the researcher sought to examine the idea that there is a difference in text analysis capacity among Grade 8 students assigned to teachers with higher levels of implementation than those with lower levels of implementation of five district literacy initiatives: (a) utilizing a Text Analysis Pyramid, (b) utilizing an interactive literacy notebook, (c) providing writing instruction following the district Write Away Plan, (d) facilitating academic conversations, and (e) facilitating analysis level of questioning. Second, teachers’ perspectives regarding their own capacity for implementation and the support they received to facilitate implementation were recorded via semi-structured formal interviews and analyzed using QDA Miner. A sequential, equal-status mixed methods design was followed and explored through a critical dialectical pluralism lens (Johnson, 2011; Onwuegbuzie & Frels, 2013) due to the focus on underserved students of poverty and due to the study having two epistemological perspectives working in tandem—pragmatism- of-the-middle, which serves to further action (Onwuegbuzie, Johnson, & Collins, 2009), and both social constructivist and constructionist lenses because a "co-constructed reality" is created between the researcher and the research participants (Guba & Lincoln, 2005, p. 193) through social processes. Through the results of the integrated data, the researcher sought to impact processes, classroom practices, and policies regarding literacy instruction. Findings indicated that teachers who demonstrated efficacy and capacity for implementing the five district literacy initiatives yielded gains in student reading achievement that was statistically significant as measured by change in both mean raw and scale scores between the 2015 and 2016 STAAR Reading Assessments. Many teachers did not demonstrate the required capacity levels for implementing the district literacy initiatives and student reading achievement was therefore impacted. Several teachers struggled with one or more of the initiatives, especially writing instruction, facilitating academic conversations, and asking and expecting analysis level of questioning. Qualitative and mixed methods data yielded the following four interconnected themes: (a) the importance of ongoing professional development, (b) time and space for meaningful planning, (c) personalized job-embedded support that spirals back to all district literacy initiatives, and (d) compassion for students and their success.