First Advisor

Susan J. Lenski

Date of Publication

Spring 6-2-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction




National Assessment of Educational Progress (Project) -- Reading (Elementary) -- Silent reading, Academic achievement, Poor children -- Books and reading, Minorities -- Books and reading



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 122 pages)


Does voluntary reading matter? While there is much known about the benefits to children who engage in sustained silent reading, commercial reading programs implemented as a result of No Child Left Behind often displace time for children to silently read (NCLB, 2002). An increase in the amount of time children spend with a commercial reading program has meant a decrease in time provided for in-school voluntary reading during the elementary literacy block (Brenner & Hiebert, 2010). This quantitative study used the 2011 restricted-use National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data to determine whether opportunities provided to children for in-school voluntary reading impacted fourth-grade students' achievement levels. The study also considered whether there were differences in the amount of time provided for in-school voluntary reading and choice in reading material to children of differing income levels and ethnic backgrounds. Contingency tables and a multiple linear regression model were used to find associations between achievement data and questionnaire responses. Findings concluded that children who qualified to participate in the National School Lunch Program, as well as Black, Hispanic, and Native American children, have fewer opportunities to silently read, and choose their own books during the school day. For most children, there was a positive relationship between time and choice in reading at school with achievement scores. Black, Hispanic, and Native American children experienced a commercial reading program at a higher rate than their white and Asian peers; there were no detected differences in reading program structure based on economic affluence. The discussion includes consideration of time to silent read at school and choice in reading material as a part of an "opportunity gap" (Darling-Hammond, 2013) that causes disparities in the quality of education provided to children from different backgrounds, and which could also be a factor to the larger achievement gap. Policy implications are discussed.


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