The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

John Eller

Second Advisor

Plamen Miltenoff

Third Advisor

Kris Samsel

Fourth Advisor

Roger Worner

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Special Education, Literacy, Coaching, Professional Development, Reading Disabilities


Students with reading disabilities need explicit and systematic instruction provided by teachers knowledgeable in effective literacy instruction (Foorman & Torgesen, 2001; Moats, 1999; Piasta, Connor, Fishman, & Morrison, 2009). The National Reading Panel report (2000) outlines five areas necessary for effective reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Knowledge in these five areas is imperative to providing explicit instruction for students’ struggling with reading (IDA, 2010; Moats, 1999). However, special education teachers often report being ill-prepared to provide the necessary instruction needed by students with reading disabilities (Amendum, 2014; Kennedy & Sheil, 2010).

Literacy coaching is an effective form of professional development which supports teachers in classroom literacy instruction (ILA, 2015a). It has shown to improve teachers’ knowledge and understanding of literacy; furthermore, this knowledge and understanding impacts student achievement (Amendum, 2014; Kennedy & Sheil, 2010). However, there was limited research found on the impact of literacy coaching for teachers of students with reading disabilities.

The study explored relationships perceived knowledge and confidence levels of effective literacy instruction for students with reading disabilities. Correlational analysis using additional variables was employed. These variables included grade levels taught and years of experience teaching students with reading disabilities. Additionally, the study explored professional development opportunities reported by participants which impacted current perceived knowledge and confidence levels in the theory and practice for effective literacy instruction for students with reading disabilities. Furthermore, the study examined the relationships between participants receiving literacy coaching and those without literacy coaching and perceived knowledge and confidence levels in the theory and practice necessary to grow in literacy acquisition.

The results of the study revealed literacy coaching impacts participants’ knowledge and confidence in the theory and practice of effective literacy instruction for students with reading disabilities. Participants with literacy coaching are more likely to perceive themselves as knowledgeable and confident in the theory of literacy instruction as outlined by the National Reading Panel report (2000). However, the practice of explicit instruction was statistically different in reported knowledge and confidence levels of participants than knowledge and confidence in theory outlined by the National Reading Panel report (2000). Furthermore, participants indicated professional development and literacy coaching provided the greatest impact on the current perceived knowledge and confidence.


This dissertation is a contribution to my community, which I believe will support the same desire that educational reform efforts and visions all agree on: All children can be successful learners. It is my hope that this dissertation is the beginning of work which will continue to support such efforts and visions.

It is with profound gratitude to acknowledge those within my community who have supported me throughout this journey. I would like to acknowledge the support of my family, who provided encouragement and support. My husband, Jac, who supported me and understood my need to isolate myself at times; my parents, Joan and Wayne Perkins, who from the beginning of my time on Earth believed in me and encouraged all my dreams; my sister, Jessica Gramstad, who provided encouragement and opportunities to laugh throughout this journey and life; and my niece and nephew, Madeline and Cole, respectively, who represent the community I am passionate about supporting. I would like to acknowledge my mentors and friends, whom are many, who pushed me to challenge myself and expand my zone of comfort. To Cindy Shevlin-Woodcock, your partnership on this journey has been invaluable to my growth and learning. To Dr. Jennifer McCarty-Plucker, your support throughout my teaching career has propelled me in directions I did not recognize as possible.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge my committee members who provided guidance and support throughout this incredible experience. Each member played a significant role in my learning. To Dr. Plamen Miltenhoff, thank you for listening and letting me process my thoughts and for pushing me to see myself differently in areas where I need to continue to develop. To Dr. Kris Samsel, thank you for your friendship and grounded thinking. Your knowledge of the process and my topic was invaluable to my work. To Dr. Roger Worner, thank you for your belief in my study and supporting me to provide greater depth. Finally, to Dr. John Eller, thank you for your leadership in the program and your constructivist approach to this process.



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