Research Paper: Effect of After School Fcat Reading Tutoring on 5th Grade Reading Scores

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¶ … Afterschool FCAT Tutoring

Students in the state of Florida are assessed annually by standardized tests to ensure that students are reaching specific educational benchmarks. One of the main areas in which students are tested is reading ability. The FCAT 2.0 tests students in their ability to read against specific benchmarks. This study aimed to determine whether a tutoring-based intervention could help low-achieving students to improve their reading test scores using a pre-post random assignment design. Sixty grade 5 students from an elementary school in Miami participated in the study. They were randomly assigned to either the control group, which received no additional help with reading, or the intervention group, which received two hours of mandatory FCAT 2.0 reading-based tutoring every day after school (5 days per week). Independent samples t-tests and paired samples t-tests indicated that students in the intervention group improved their tests scores more than students in the control group. Thus, the results would indicate that participation in an afterschool tutoring program that is specifically based on FCAT 2.0 reading test benchmarks aides students in improving their reading test scores over the course of a semester.

Introduction

Literacy, or the ability to read, is perhaps one of the most important skills that a child develops through the process of attending school. Despite the importance of reading abilities however, many students struggle with reading and some manage to complete their elementary school education without developing adequate reading skills (Stanley & Stanley, 2011). Inability to read, or poor reading skills, can severely impede a student's ability to succeed in other areas of their education, as often other subjects rely on the student's basic ability to read. For example, mastering a topic in science class may require reading a textbook, conducting research, or writing small reports. If a student is unable to read, they will be unable to effectively engage with the material in science class, therefore causing them to suffer academically in all areas, not just in the area of reading and literacy.

Given the importance of reading ability to student success, researchers have long studied the contributors to reading success and learning. While a number of different techniques for teaching learning have been studied, one area that has received less attention is how struggling students can be helped to improve their scores on standardized reading tests. The current study focuses on an intervention aimed at improving student reading scores on the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT) in the area of reading. The specific intervention involves an after-school tutoring program that is specifically structured around the FCAT reading test and focuses on the benchmarks related to the test. As such, it is hypothesized that participation in the intervention will significantly increase students' scores on the reading section of the FCAT. It is particularly important to study this subject among low-achieving, disadvantaged children, as they are at high risk for academic struggle and failure (Valle, 2010). Furthermore, students such as these may face greater challenges in life if they are unable to read basic English, which may contribute to delinquency and criminal behavior later in life. Illiteracy has been closely linked to criminal behavior consistently throughout the literature (Valle, 2010), and thus finding interventions to improve reading can have potential benefits far beyond the educational system.

The specific hypothesis for the current study is:

Participation in an after-school FCAT-based reading program will significantly improve student reading scores compared to a control group that does not participate in the after-school tutoring program.

The literature strongly supports this hypothesis, and previous studies have examined the utility of tutoring, after-school programs, and various methods of reading instruction on student ability. This study will be unique in its focus on the FCAT specifically, as well as its use of a disadvantaged, under-achieving group of students.

Morris, Shaw and Perney (1990) found that a two-year, volunteer-based tutoring program assisted grade students in significantly improving their reading skills. The study was not specifically based on the FCAT, and the tutors were not specifically trained in the benchmarks of any given standardized test. Further, the study differed from the current study in that the students were younger and the intervention lasted for two years. The current study focuses specifically on the FCAT, uses trained tutors and lasts for only a semester.

Anderson (2000) conducted a study in which she attempted to increase parental involvement in students learning to read. The premise was that students needed to practice their reading in order to improve, and that the most logical and cost-effective location for students to practice was at home with their parents. Despite this, Anderson found that parents in poor socio-economic areas were more reluctant to help with their students' reading, possibly due to the low level of education achieved by the parents themselves. Consequently, the study tried to create an intervention that would promote parental involvement in student reading, but the study found that it was very difficult to improve parental involvement (Anderson, 2000). This study points to the importance of structured, after-school tutoring programs with trained tutors. Parents may be either unwilling or unable to assist their children in improving their reading scores on standardized tests. Thus, Anderson's (2000) study supports the implementation of a school-based intervention with trained tutors.

Furthermore, research needs to focus on the specific issues related to the standardized assessment of reading. There is much debate over how standardized testing changes how schools operate and teach (Herman & Golan, 1993), but regardless of opinions concerning the merits of standardized testing, the reality is that many students are assessed through this method, especially in Florida. Consequently, it is important to understand not only how to help students learn to read better, but also how to help them perform on specific standardized tests related to their reading ability (Callenbach, 1973; Herman & Golan, 1993). Mehrens and Kaminski (2005) evaluated the many different ways available to students for improving their standardized test-scores. In particular, the researchers examined the various ethical concerns related to different types of interventions. Mehrens and Kaminski (2005) concluded that many of the interventions available were unethical and were focused on exploiting students and families desperate to improve standardized test scores. The researchers concluded that tutor-based programs with real teachers and instructors were much more ethically sound.

Consequently, the research supports the use of a tutor-based, after-school intervention program aimed at improving student reading scores on the standardized FCAT 2.0 reading test.

Method

Participants

Participants were 60 students from an elementary school in Miami, Florida in the 5th grade. The average of participants was 10.5 years old. With respect to ethnicity, 80% of the participants were African-American while the remaining 20% were Latin. The majority of students were female (60%). Students predominantly came from single-parent homes with parents of low educational achievements.

Instruments

The instrument used in this study was the reading section of Florida's Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). The FCAT has been used in Florida since 1998 in an attempt to increase the level of achievement reached by student's through the implementation of standardized testing with increased standards (Florida Department of Education, 2013). In 2010, Florida introduced FCAT 2.0, a revised version of the test, which is now used widely across the state (Florida Department of Education, 2013). Student performance is measured against specific standards, called the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS), which are benchmarks. The FCAT 2.0 reading exam is administered in two, 70-minute sessions over the span of two days. There is a break in the middle of each session. FCAT reading scores range from 140 to 302, however, for ease of interpretation, they can be transformed to a 0-100 scale. The test has been found to be both valid and reliable, with test-rest scores being highly correlated.

Procedures

Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups: the control group or the intervention group. Random assignment was weighted to ensure equality of demographics between each group, thus each group's demographics match those of the entire group as a whole.

Participants assigned to the intervention group received FCAT 2.0-based tutoring every day after school (i.e., 5 days per week) for two hours. The tutoring was based on the NGSSS benchmarks set by Florida's Department of Education. Attendance was mandatory. Participants assigned to the control group did not receive any additional after school tutoring. Prior to beginning the study, all students completed a mock FCAT 2.0 test (pre-test). After the completion of the study, which lasted for one semester, participants were re-tested.

Analyses

Paired t-tests were used to compare student's performance on pre- and post-tests of the FCAT 2.0 in each group separately.

Results

A preliminary independent samples t-test was run to ensure that the two groups were of equal abilities at the beginning of the study. The results of the t-test indicate that there were no significant differences between the two groups with respect to their reading ability, as measured by the FCAT 2.0 reading pre-test (t58 = -.210, p = .835.). The lack of significant difference… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Effect of After School Fcat Reading Tutoring on 5th Grade Reading Scores.  (2013, April 21).  Retrieved April 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/effect-school-fcat-reading-tutoring/8356492

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"Effect of After School Fcat Reading Tutoring on 5th Grade Reading Scores."  21 April 2013.  Web.  19 April 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/effect-school-fcat-reading-tutoring/8356492>.

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"Effect of After School Fcat Reading Tutoring on 5th Grade Reading Scores."  Essaytown.com.  April 21, 2013.  Accessed April 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/effect-school-fcat-reading-tutoring/8356492.