Date of Award


Access Restriction

Campus Access only Dissertations

Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Candace Poindexte

Second Advisor

Mary K. McCullough

Third Advisor

John Wietting


Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this study was to determine which instructional strategies addressed the needs of emergent second grade students in a Southern California public elementary school. The participant classrooms in this case study employed daily use of the Open Court Reading Program (OCR). Open Court Reading is a commercially published, highly scripted reading and writing program that utilizes a balanced approach to reading instruction. This study evaluated the effectiveness of Open Court Reading in improving the reading ability of emergent second grade readers in an urban Southern California elementary school.

Procedures: This study employed a case study methodology. Data were collected through teacher interviews, classroom observations, and review of the Open Court Reading benchmark assessments. Interviews with the teachers and observations in their classrooms were used to identify effective teaching strategies for emergent readers. The teacher interviews were used to identify perceptions and attitudes about the Open Court Reading Program as well as strategies used with their students. During the classroom observations, the focus was on the interactions between Open Court Reading and the emergent readers. The scores on the OCR benchmark assessments were used to determine the effectiveness of the teaching strategies.

Findings: The strategies that were identified as effective in addressing the needs of the emergent reader included (1) deviation from the scripted curriculum to individualize the learning, (2) strong classroom management skills, (3) use of graphic organizers and reading response journals, and (4) practice with supplemental material that was either commercial or teacher-made.

Conclusions: Three themes emerged from the data as the keys to addressing the needs of emergent readers: (1) the weaknesses of a one-size-fits-all curriculum, (2) the need for effective organization and classroom management, and (3) the importance of a teacher's passion on classroom effectiveness. The teachers that deviated from the one-size-fits-all curriculum had high percentages of students achieve the benchmark standards on the assessments. In order to implement the one-size-does-not-fit-all curriculum, effective classroom organization and management skills are necessary. Teacher passion for the teaching profession had a profound impact on student achievement.