Linking Reading Coaches and Student Achievement

Evidence from Florida Middle Schools

Published in: Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, v. 32, no. 3, Sep. 2010, p. 372-388

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2010

by J. R. Lockwood, Jennifer Sloan McCombs, Julie A. Marsh

Many policymakers suggest that school-based reading coaches can improve teachers' practice, which consequently will improve students' literacy skills. Although reading coaches are increasingly prevalent in schools nationwide, empirical evidence for their effects on student achievement is scarce. This article helps to address this gap by conducting an evaluation of a statewide reading coach program in Florida middle schools. Using achievement data from nearly 1,000 Florida middle schools from the 1997-1998 through 2005-2006 school years, we find that receiving a state-funded coach was associated with statistically significant improvements in average annual reading achievement gains for two of the four cohorts of schools analyzed. We examine implications for state and district policy and future research.

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