Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice


Gloria Kieley

Committee Member

Shery Burke


literacy education, early literacy skills, reading improvement, supplemental instruction


This applied dissertation was written to conduct a qualitative case study to investigate teacher empowerment and autonomy in using evidence-based interventions for foundational reading skills for challenged readers in primary grade classrooms at a private school. This study explored teacher perceptions in a qualitative study design using sampling in the phenomenological analysis approach. This study sought to answer two research questions regarding how teachers assess reading progress and adjust strategies, materials, and curriculum toward determining best practices. The need to demonstrate reading proficiency in kindergarten through third grade is the central theme of this study. The research problem is that children are not acquiring critical early literacy skills related to independent reading and the content area.

Participants in the research study were primary classroom teachers, from kindergarten to third grade, during English Language Arts (ELA) block consisting of whole group and small group instruction. The targeted population or sample in the qualitative study was women teachers, ranging in ages from 25 to 54, and included ethnicities of African American, Caucasian, and Hispanic. Data were collected through interviews with teachers using the Teacher Interview Questions document, and responses were collected through the online platform Zoom cloud recordings. The interviews conducted were based on questions and topics that included autonomy in decision-making in identifying students' areas of need, teachers determining methods of intervention to match deficiencies, measuring the results of reading interventions, scheduling to provide consistency as an essential element, and assessing progress monitoring. The focus of the interviews was teachers' empowerment in determining procedures when implementing reading interventions.

Themes arose in teacher participant responses relating to research questions: Theme 1 Assessment & Observation; Theme 2 Curriculum & Consistency; Theme 3 Student Motivation & Experiences; and Theme 4 Individualization & Accommodations. Supporting comments from the teacher interviews show the need for selective customized literacy interventions and the teachers' ability to make adjustments for positive student changes. This field analysis data revealed a need for continued support in building foundational literacy skills, assistance from school administration in scheduling adequate time in class schedules, and stronger student motivation in the achievement of required skills. School administration could consider teacher empowerment in the classroom, as this study indicated positive results in the areas of assessment, curriculum, student motivation, and individualized student learning.

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