Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Brenner, Devon G.

Committee Member

Alley, Kathleen M.

Committee Member

Brocato, D. Kay

Committee Member

Miller, Nicole C.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Curriculum and Instruction

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education


This case study, conducted during the 2014-2015 school year, examined the reading comprehension instruction and assessment practices at an elementary school implementing the Response to Intervention (RtI) framework. Observed assessment practices were compared to what the International Literacy Association (ILA) deems appropriate assessment standards for literacy achievement. 3 educators from an elementary school (~ 750 students) participated in this case study. The participants included females of various backgrounds; a school administrator, lead teacher, and fourth grade classroom teacher. 3 research questions guided this case study: (1) What does reading comprehension assessment look like in a school implementing RtI?; (2) What is the relationship between reading comprehension instruction and assessment in a school implementing RtI?; (3) In what ways are reading comprehension assessment practices in a school implementing RtI consistent or inconsistent with ILA assessment guidelines that focus on multiple dimensions of literacy, new literacies and using assessment to improve teaching and learning? Initial and follow-up interviews were conducted as well as observations, and artifacts were examined in relation to reading comprehension instruction, assessment, and RtI. Data were analyzed at 2 levels – the school and classroom. From this analysis 4 themes were identified regarding the nature of assessments: (a) Administrators valued and required teachers to use multiple summative assessments to track students’ progression and make decisions regarding students’ remediation; (b) Teachers’ reading instruction decisions were heavily influenced by district, state, and national education mandates; (c) Teachers used formative assessment data to inform reading instruction, but questioned its validity and the quality of their instruction when results contradicted summative assessment data; and (d) The school’s assessment practices were not reflective of the International Literacy Association’s Assessment Standards. Results also included the role of the federal initiative Response to Intervention (RtI) and its impact on assessment practices. The findings of the study suggest implications for school and district administrators, classroom teachers, and teacher educators.