Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational & Clinical Studies

First Committee Member

Amanda K. Higgins

Second Committee Member

Thomas Pierce

Third Committee Member

Susan Miller

Fourth Committee Member

Richard Tandy

Number of Pages



More than half of all school-age children in the United States read below grade level (NCES, 2012a). Seventy-five percent of all special education referrals are due to poor reading skills (NCES, 2012b). The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services reports that 50% or more of students with disabilities score at or below the 20th percentile on reading assessments (U.S. Department of Education, 2010). Once children fall behind in the acquisition of reading skills, intense intervention is needed to reach an adequate level of reading accuracy (Torgesen, 2008). Unfortunately, struggling readers lose practice time for each month and year they are behind, thus making it extremely difficult to improve their reading. (Torgesen, 2008). Parents, educators, and politicians continue to examine current reading instruction in schools.

In 1997, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development formed the National Reading Panel (National Reading Panel, 2000). The panel consisted of professors, educators, and parents who reviewed over 100,000 research-based articles and reports. The purpose of the review was to identify the basic components necessary to teach reading (NRP, 2000). In 2000, the results of this study were published in the National Reading Panel Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction, Reports of the Subgroups. From this assessment, the five big ideas of reading instruction were identified: (a) phonemic awareness, (b) phonics, (c) vocabulary, (d) fluency, and (e) comprehension (NRP, 2000).

The purpose of this study was to investigate the level of knowledge and type of reading instruction training received by general and special educators in their teacher education and in-service programs. Teachers currently enrolled in master level courses at 13 universities completed a questionnaire via a web link. The universities that participated were: University of Nevada Las Vegas, California State University Monterey Bay, California State University Fullerton, San Diego State University, Arizona State University, University of North Carolina Greensborough, University of Georgia, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Southern Connecticut State University, St. Cloud University, Emporia State University, Eastern Illinois University, and Wichita State University. Convenience sampling was used in the design of the study through the selection of universities. However, the teacher participants were representative of educators from rural, town, suburban, or city settings.

Results from the study indicated that special education teachers receive more reading skills instruction overall compared to general education teachers in their pre-service programs. Conversely, the data indicated similar outcomes for special and general education teachers during their in-service trainings. A need for improvement in reading skills instruction for special and general education teachers during their in-service trainings is needed.


In-Service Teacher Education; Pre-Service Teacher Education; Reading; Reading Instruction; Reading teachers – Training of; Special education teachers – Training of; Teacher Education


Liberal Studies | Teacher Education and Professional Development