The effect of university -school partnerships on the literacy rates of inner city children

Bettina P Baker, University of Pennsylvania


The historic and persistent literacy rate gap between African American and Euro-American children in the United States is a problem of national significance. The research program that is the foundation for this dissertation was designed to raise reading levels of minority, inner city children in low-income schools through the establishment of university-school partnerships. The research analyses the implementation of reading curricula developed by the author and used by American Reads tutors in three schools partnered with the University of Pennsylvania. The Individualized Reading Program (IRP) (Labov and Baker, 1999) was created in order to meet the recommendations of the National Research Council Committee on Preventing Reading Difficulties Among Young Children (Snow et al, 1998) and those of the National Reading Panel (2000). Phonological and grammatical features of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) are analyzed and discussed in relation to the development of reading curricula. The teaching and ordering of specific grapheme-phoneme combinations for inclusion in reading instructional programs are identified. Theoretical and pedagogical underpinnings of the IRP are described. Results from four studies conducted in three settings show a significant level of improvement for the majority of the struggling readers in grades 2 through 5 enrolled in the IRP. A small, experimental design study comparing the IRP to a “balanced literacy” treatment condition (N = 58) found statistically significant gains in word identification and word attack test scores on the Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised, and a significant reduction in decoding errors measured by the RX diagnostic. No significant differences were found in gains in passage comprehension rates. Recommendations are included for the development and implementation of university-school partnerships to institutionalize innovative reading programs through extended day and in-school tutoring programs. Suggestions are given on implementing strategies to effectively teach African American, struggling readers in grades 2 through 5.

Subject Area

Literacy|Reading instruction|African Americans

Recommended Citation

Baker, Bettina P, "The effect of university -school partnerships on the literacy rates of inner city children" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3137978.