Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Hare, Dwight

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Curriculum and Instruction

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction


Mississippis low rate of literacy has been the focus of concern for educators and policy makers for many years. At the same time the National Reading Panel (National Institute of Health, 2000) was attempting to resolve the issue of which methods were most effective in teaching children to read by conducting a meta-analysis of reading research, Mississippi was developing a reform model, the Mississippi Reading Reform Model (MRRM), to raise the reading achievement of its students. In 2000 James Barksdale, founder of Netscape, donated one hundred million dollars to Mississippi and founded the Barksdale Reading Institute (BRI) in order to assist in the implementation of the MRRM and, ultimately, raise the literacy rates in Mississippi. In 2006 BRI initiated a reading reform model in the form of demonstration classrooms. Core reading instruction for kindergarten and first grade students at-risk for reading failure in the demonstration classrooms was provided by the Barksdale Literacy Teachers (BLTs). Reading interventions were provided for kindergarten through third grade students in the demonstration classrooms by the BLTs and an Intervention Specialist (IS). Reading methods and strategies promoted by the NRP formed the basis of instruction in the demonstration classrooms. The subject of this qualitative study is the experiences of 12 BLTs as they implemented demonstration classrooms across Mississippi. The researcher investigated the BLTs? personal experiences as they worked with students, predominantly African Americans and from low-socioeconomic communities. The Read Well program was used in the classrooms as a means of ensuring the use of NRP promoted methods. Research findings reveal the problems associated with teaching struggling readers who are also living with the effects of poverty. BLTs described their use of a scripted commercial program and problems the program posed for their students as speakers of African American Vernacular English.



literacy||reading reform||Barksdale Reading Institute||struggling readers||education reform