Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



Major Professor

John R. Ray

Committee Members

Lester N. Knight, Charles H. Hargis, C. Glennon Rowell


The purpose of this study was to examine middle school principals’ and teachers’ perceptions of the current issues in middle school reading education and to identify the sources of information that these educators use and find helpful to keep informed reading issues.

Participants were employed in the 14 middle schools of the Knox County School System (KCS) in Knoxville, Tennessee. Questionnaires were completed in March and April 2004 by the14 middle school principals and 14 teachers who were reading chairpersons for their schools.

The questionnaire used in this study, Middle School Principals and Teachers: Knowledge of the Reading Program, consists of five tasks. A chi- square analysis was used for three of the tasks and percentages of responses were compared to analyze two tasks.

Principals and teachers agreed more than they disagreed on their responses to all tasks in the questionnaire. There were three items in which participants’ responses showed statistically significant differences: (a) the two groups’ classification and ranking of importance of one issue, providing a supportive learning community including teachers who serve as role models of active literacy via apparent relish for reading (teachers classified and ranked this as unresolved more often than did principals), and (b) one source of information, journals for educators (reported as used more by principals than teachers).

Principals and teachers agreed that three issues are unresolved: (a) meeting the criteria of No Child Left behind for “Highly Qualified” teachers, (b) effects of public accountability, which foster teaching to the test, on reading instruction, and (c) planning reading instruction for struggling readers. Analysis of participants’ rating of understanding of reading issues showed similarity in their reported level of understanding.

Participants identified three sources of information most often used in the last 12 months to keep informed about issues in reading education: (a) Informal contacts with specialists in the field, (b) formal contacts with specialists in the field, and (c) popular national magazines and/or newspapers. Participants rated the helpfulness of these sources of information similarly.

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