Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Chicago Archdiocesan Reading Program from an academic, social and psychological viewpoint over a three-year period, 1962- 1964. The investigation was limited to the seventh and eighth grade pupils at St. Nicholas School, Evanston, Illinois. In evaluating the reading program at St. Nicholas School, an attempt was made to answer the following questions: 1. how has this program provided for the students of superior and low achievement? 2. What are the reactions of the teachers involved in the reading program? 3. What are the reactions of the students concerning their own progress and the reading program? 4. What are the reactions of parents concerning the achievements of the pupils in reading? 5. What progress in reading achievement has been attained by participating pupils during a three-year period? 6. What improvement has resulted from corrective instruction over a three-year period? 7. What is the initial and final reading status of participants over a three-year period? In this program pupils achieving on or above grade level are encouraged in their efforts and accomplishments; those with reading disabilities are effectively guided to attain the level of reading instruction in accordance with their intellectual ability as determined by a Stanford Intelligence Test. In view of this point, the reading program is designed to be both preventive and corrective in its structure. From the preventive aspect, emphasis is placed on the importance of a strong developmental program at each grade level to develop mastery of skills at that level for pupils who read up to their capacity. For academically talented children an enrichment program is provided with less drill work and more emphasis on the development of initiative under relatively little supervision. The corrective area includes those pupils whose work is below grade level, but whose mental capacity allows for higher achievement. Three questionnaires were developed to obtain an evaluation of the improvement in the reading program; one questionnaire concerned teaching experience, training, methods of teaching reading and reaction to the Chicago Archdiocesan Reading Program as it operated in St. Nicholas School. It was completed by each of the seven teachers who had participated in the three-year program. One hundred twenty-three pupils who took part in the program were asked to complete a questionnaire concerning their reading interests, reactions to their own reading status and to the method by which reading was being taught. A third questionnaire was sent to parents of the participating pupils to determine their opinion about the method of grouping for improving instruction in reading. In general, opinions of both parents and teachers were very favorable toward the method of grouping and instruction. Pupils gave indication that their reading ability had improved through the program. All teachers agreed that the program provided for social adjustment; they stated that slow learners or pupils in corrective groups feel they are equal to their peers. Test data obtained through various forms of the Stanford Achievement Test area on reading gave evidence that a wide range of abilities existed in grades seven and eight. The pre-test grade placement results of pupils in grade seven ranged from 3.6 years to 8.4 years. At the close of the three-year study, the range was from 4.3 years to 12.3 years. Grade eight pre-test grade placement results indicated a range from 4.1 years to 11.4 years. Final results on grade placement indicated a range from 6.3 years to 12.9 years. Teaching children in groups resulted in a narrower reading level range. Individual gains in reading achievement varied from a few months to more than two years. It seems significant that most pupils made substantial gains while in some cases little or no progress was noted. The third year of the program indicated most progress in reading. Data analysis revealed that at the beginning of the reading program a higher percentage of pupils appearing in the corrective groups in both grades. As the program continued, the percentage of pupils in the corrective groups gradually decreased from 50.7 per cent to 20.9 per cent in grade seven. Grade eight showed a decrease from 59.0 per cent to 30.4 per cent. As a result of corrective instruction, there was a decrease of the number of pupils in need of corrective instruction of approximately 30 per cent. Pre-test results of the pupils in grade eight showed that 19.6 per cent were reading below their grade level. At the end of the three-year study, test results revealed that only 14.3 per cent of the pupils were reading below their grade level. Pre-test results of the tests given pupils in grade seven showed that 20.9 per cent of the groups were reading below their grade level. At the end of the three-year study, test results revealed that only 7.5 per cent of the pupils were reading below their grade level. It may be generalized from the study that no one best method of teaching reading and organizing for instruction will meet perfectly the educational needs of all children at all times. To all appearances, parents of St. Nicholas School children, as well as teachers, are interested in the improvement in reading program. The study revealed that educators, in the Chicago Archdiocesan Reading Program, seem to believe that the evaluation of this approach to the teaching of reading cannot be left to the use of standardized test alone and that instruction in reading needs to be organized to include all levels of ability. It can be assumed that a system of teaching reading, like any other educational procedure, seems to fail or succeed in terms of the way it is developed by the people involved; that is principals, teachers, parents and pupils. This study is reported in order that it may become part of the information already accumulated concerning the effectiveness of various types of reading programs.


W. Clement Wood

Date of Award

Summer 1964

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1964 Sister M. Johnel Ruder


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