Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Stergios Botzakis

Committee Members

Colleen Gilrane, Trena Paulus, Richard Allington


This collective case study uses ethnographic methods to explore the literacy engagement and school interactions of two families of struggling adolescent readers within the accountability era following the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, a time period where there have been as yet few studies (e.g. Compton-Lilly, 2009) focused on family literacy. Formal and informal interviews with students and their guardians as well as observations and document analysis were the main data sources. Results illuminated the influence of school policies and curricula on students’ families’ interactions and identities (Tajfel & Turner, 1986). The researcher found that families lacking cultural capital (Bordieu, 1977) were not adequately informed about high stakes assessments or involved in decision-making, which significantly impacted the lives of their children. Consequently, students were tracked into letter groups that reflected the grading scale and influenced students’ scholastic identities, used reading programs that did not develop intrinsic motivation, and barred access to necessary reading interventions solely on the basis of group placement.

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