A case study of perceptions of teachers engaged in teaching reading to adolescent students in middle school
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Reading is a foundational skill that contributes to success in school and life-long endeavors. Teaching students to read and ensuring they learn how to master the five components of the reading process is a primary task of those in the education system. However, there are many students who reach middle school who have not become proficient or advanced readers. Many students continue to struggle with reading, functioning only at a basic or below basic level. The impact of struggling to read can be catastrophic for students and can negatively affect their ability to learn. The focus of this study is a middle school that continually reported a high number of students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades that struggled with reading. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the perceptions of teachers engaged in teaching reading to adolescent middle school students. Further, the study sought to gain ideas from the teachers regarding adolescent literacy and how to address the problem of middle school students who struggled with reading. This study utilized a qualitative case study methodology. Data were collected through two surveys that used closed and open-ended questions. Data were also gathered from the researcher's classroom observation, team meeting, and informal conversation notes. This study found that a discrepancy existed about the extent of the problem between teachers' perceptions of struggling readers and reported assessment scores. Findings from the study also suggested mixed perceptions regarding the setting and who is responsible for teaching reading among the middle school teachers. In the findings, elements that block students from learning to read or express their reading abilities were identified. The teachers identified numerous ways to assist students but were hesitant to adopt strategies to use in the classroom beyond the aligned curriculum instruction. The findings also revealed that teachers were very definite in listing training needs for teachers and what elements must be included in teaching adolescent literacy. A theme emerged of resistance for some teachers based on the demand to teach a separate reading class and individual perceptions about whose responsibility it is to teach reading. This study may have implications for teachers dealing with similar issues based on the problem of a high number of students that struggle with reading in the middle school setting.