Lessons for Boosting the Effectiveness of Reading Coaches

Published in: Phi Delta Kappan, v. 90, no. 7, Mar. 2009, p. 501-507

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2009

by Jennifer Sloan McCombs, Julie A. Marsh

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A popular approach for improving students' literacy skills is school-based literacy or reading coaches--specially trained master teachers who provide leadership for the school's literacy program and offer on-site and ongoing professional development support for teachers so they can improve the literacy skills of their students. To understand the implementation and effects of coaching, researchers surveyed principals, coaches, and reading and social studies teachers in 113 middle schools in eight large Florida school districts; conducted interviews, focus groups, and observations; interviewed state officials and coach coordinators; and examined results from state middle school examinations in reading and mathematics (Marsh et al. 2008). This study found mixed effects on student achievement. But it uncovered common successes and concerns that suggest strategies for both policy makers and practitioners.

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