Relationship of the IBM Writing to Read Program to Lower Elementary Academic Achievement
Graves, Joseph J.
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The problem. This study measures kindergarten and first grade Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) reading, language, and composite scores for student cohorts. One group received kindergarten reading instruction through IBM's Writing to Read program while the other group received kindergarten reading instruction through traditional methods. Procedure. The ITBS scores were collected from 112 students and grouped into Writing to Read students and traditional instruction students. An analytical covariance was performed on first grade scores for each subtest, with compensations for group difference through kindergarten scores. Non-statistical post hoc comparisons were also made on second the third grade scores through graphic trendlines. Findings. Significant differences between the groups were found at the kindergarten level. This prompted the need for the analysis of covariance. At the first grade level, significant differences between the groups were found in the Language subtests only. In the post hoc comparisons, all differences, significant or not, disappeared by third grade. Conclusions. l. Practically significant increases in first grade language, and composite scores were recorded by who had been taught through IBM's Writing to Read program. Statistically significant increases were recorded only for composite scores. 2. By the third grade, scores recorded by students taught via Writing to Read as kindergartners were not significantly different from similar students taught through traditional methods in the experimental or baseline groups. 3. It is unlikely that the computer-assisted component of the Writing to Read program had even the short-term effects demonstrated in the early grades. 4. Third grade score means the experimental group were slightly lower than could have been expected by historical averages! but not significantly lower. Recommendations. 1. The IBM Writing to Read program was an effective method increasing student test scores in the early elementary grades in the short term. 2. Further research is needed on the specific skills taught by Writing to read. 3. Further longitudinal research is needed on the possibility of student burn-out in third grade and beyond as a result of increased kindergarten reading instruction through Writing to Read.
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