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Whitney Gaddis 1

Article Critique 2

Whitney Gaddis
FRIT 7237
Article Critique 2

Whitney Gaddis 2
Article Critique 2

Article Reference
Paterson, W. A., Henry, J. J., O'quin, K., Ceprano, M. A., & Blue, E. V. (2003). Investigating the
effectiveness of an integrated learning system on early emergent readers. Reading
Research Quarterly, 38(2), 172-207. doi:10.1598/rrq.38.2.2

Article Summary
Investigating the effectiveness of an integrated learning system on early emergent readers is an
article by Wendy A. Paterson, Julie Jacobs Henry, Karen O'quin, Maria A. Ceprano and Elfreda
V. Blue. This study was performed by a team from Buffalo State College in New York State. The
purpose of this study was to assess the results of one of the largest Title III investments in the
state. A large urban school district was awarded three million dollars to improve their early
literacy skills of kindergarten and first grade students. With the three million dollars in grant
funds the urban school district implemented a program designed by the Waterford Institute. The
Waterford Institute designed a reading program that consisted of an Integrated Learning System
(ILS) that was believed to teach early reading skills and was hoped to respond to student needs in
reading more efficiently and effectively than the teachers. This is one of the resources that the
urban school implemented in twenty-five kindergarten classrooms and two first grade
classrooms. Research shows that the measurement of achievement and growth using ILSs is
usually not valid. It is extremely difficult to prove that ILS technology improves academic
performance. The Waterford Reading Program required kindergarten students to work for fifteen

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minutes each day on the program and first grade students work on level two. This program
consisted of small books and songs that were read orally by the computer as well as the ability
for students to create their own books and record them reading. Three computers were purchased
for each of the classrooms. Teacher training as well as technical support were included in the
The purpose of this study was to investigate how well the Waterford Early Reading Program
worked in practices. Through the study, the program was observed being used in many different
ways in multiple classrooms. These classrooms consisted of children with widely varying
literacy skills and teachers using varying teaching practices. The program was observed at work
in classrooms while simultaneously observing similar classrooms without the program. The goal
of the study was to identify classroom factors that might influence the programs success or
failure in supporting early reading and literacy.
Research questions were guided by previous research on integrated learning systems and
technology in education. Questions were related to the qualities of student literacy development
as well as any measurable quantity of student reading achievement. Both qualitative and
quantitative research methods were used so that researchers could explore contextual factors that
might have affected literacy growth. The multiple data sources used in this study were teacher
surveys, observational data, teacher interviews, and reading achievement data. An observational
component was used to assess literacy skills because kindergarten students are not proficient at
taking tests. An independent instrument called the Clay Survey was used to accurately reflect
multiple aspects of literacy instruction in typical primary classrooms. Out of the twenty-five

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kindergarten classrooms and two first grade classrooms that the program was implemented in,
only seven kindergarten and one first grade classrooms were chosen as part of the study.
Three primary themes from the Clay Survey data identified primary teacher variables. These
variables were teacher control, literacy facilitations, and instructional time versus management
time. The teachers who were considered high literacy facilitators who spent most of their
instructional time on literacy events and students were highly active participants were
determined to use the best teaching practices. Quantitative results concluded that students with
high-instruction and low-management teachers had higher scores on all variables compared to
those with high-management and low-instruction teachers. The results of this study show that the
Waterford Early Reading Program had relatively little overall effect on the participants literacy
development. The results also show that teacher variables had a consistently strong effect on
reading success.
Article Critique
I found this study to be very interesting. It is very frustrating to me that this really happens.
Districts spend millions of dollars on adopting programs that they hope will improve student
literacy skills. It is important that these districts have compelling research to validate their large
purchase. I believe that if these districts were to spend those funds on improving teacher
practices then they would truly see a difference in the literacy of their lower grade level students.
This study is necessary to prove that it is not possible to implement an Integrated Learning
System and see immediate results. The article shows that more observation as well as extending
the practices of using a reading program like the Waterford Reading Program and necessary for it

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to be considered successful. I feel that this study was very thorough and the results were
presented in a very organized way. There were many factors with the study as well as the
implementation that could have an effect on the results of this study. One area that could have
been improved with the implementation of the Waterford Reading Program would be that the
teachers were not required to go to the Waterford training by Waterford representatives and were
not required to use all Waterford resources. The study does not state how many teachers attended
the training voluntarily. I believe that if all teachers were required to attend official Waterford
sessions as well as district training sessions would have been beneficial to the implementation of
the Waterford Reading Program within the district. There were steps in the data collection where
more steps should have been taken during data collection. One part of the article states that the
observer did not record what programs students were using in non-Waterford classrooms. This is
not acceptable. I believe that this is important information and it makes me question what other
important data is missing. I believe that the data provided in the results is true and valid, but I
think there is more quantitative data results needed. There is no evidence in the study that shows
how long students were truly engaged in the program. I think there should be some type of
system used to prove students are engaged and participating for the fifteen minutes in the
program daily. The article states that the program was used for five months before the study took
place. I think that for the results to be more valid, students in first grade who used the program in
kindergarten should be part of the study. I believe that the results might be different had the study
taken place in the second year of implementation of the program. I think to truly answer the
question of whether or not the Waterford Reading Program truly made a difference in student
learning there are more concrete findings needed.