Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Mary McCullough

Second Advisor

Doug Grove

Third Advisor

Kyo Yamashiro


The achievement gap is a historic and pervasive issue of social justice in education. the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has further stalled student achievement in reading and math, amplifying the urgency for accelerating student learning to close the gap. The third grade is a critical year for literacy in education; if students have not mastered grade level literacy skills by then, they are likely to continue to fall behind, which can diminish academic opportunities and significantly reduce their economic potential. This study seeks social justice in education to add to the literature by elucidating strategies to improve third-grade literacy. Grounded in quantitative analysis, this longitudinal study employs a quasi-experimental pretest-posttest design to evaluate the relationship between third-grade student engagement in two concurrent literacy interventions, Smarty Ants and Achieve3000 Literacy, and student reading outcomes. To this end, the analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was applied with a control for pretest scores while evaluating the relationship between engagement and outcomes. Results of each ANCOVA show statistical significance between student engagement in the literacy interventions and their Lexile outcomes. Despite the small sample size, results of the analyses verify that there is statistical significance in the relationship between student engagement levels in the programs, individually and concurrently, and their Lexile outcomes in Achieve3000 Literacy during the 2020-2021 academic year within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the strength of correlation results in the ANCOVAs and the t-tests, this was especially true for engagement in Achieve3000 Literacy and more so for combined engagement. The study concludes with a discussion of these findings, an articulation of the significance of the study, as well as recommendations for future practice and study.

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