The survey will assess Massachusetts teachers knowledge of the following: English language structure, national and state reading policies, and research findings on reading acquisition. It will also probe teachers attitudes towards and preferences in using skill-based/phonics and/or whole language approaches to early reading instruction, as well as their opinions on applying research findings in their classrooms.
The online survey will be completed by a random sample of kindergarten and second grade teachers, selected from schools in each Massachusetts school district that includes students in kindergarten through grade three. These teachers will be contacted through sending information packets to their building principals. These packets will include 1) a cover letter addressed to the principal that describes the study and asks that the enclosed letters be distributed to all regular education teachers, special education teachers, or reading specialists who work with kindergarten and second graders and 2) letters addressed to the teachers that describes the study and also includes the URL where the survey can be completed and submitted via the internet. Once the teachers respond to the survey, the data set will be imported into SPSS for statistical analysis.
The survey will consist of demographic, Likert-scale, and multiple choice items, as well as a few open responses. Demographic information will include school and district information, for correlating results with socioeconomic factors, reading achievement scores, and enrollment and special education statistics (as obtained from the Massachusetts Department of Education School/District Profiles website), and teacher variables, such as gender, level of education, years of experience teaching, grade level taught, special qualifications, and the number of literacy courses taken. The Teacher Perceptions Toward Early Reading and Spelling scale will assess teachers attitudes and approaches towards beginning reading instruction, and their knowledge of English language structure (i.e. phonology and morphology) will be measured by the Teacher Knowledge of Language Structure scale (Mather, Bos, & Babur, 2001). Additional questions will probe the teachers understanding of educational policies and reading research as well as how these relate to classroom practices.