Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Robert L. Infantino, EdD, Director; Jerome J. Ammer, PhD; Edward Kujawa Jr., PhD;


California English-Language Arts Framework, children & youth, classrooms, code-centered approach, descriptive study, meaning-centered approach, organizational change


The purpose of this descriptive study was to determine how a meaning-centered approach versus a code-centered approach affects student performance: (a) in the teaching of language arts; (b) in regular education classrooms containing low achieving, low socio-economic, multi-ethnic, and learning handicapped students; (c) in grades one, three and six; and (d) in the first year implementation of the California English-Language Arts Framework. This study focused on three interrelated dimensions of organizational change which are linked to student performance: curriculum materials, teacher behaviors, and organizational change processes. Eight research questions guided the examination of qualitative and quantitative data originating from teacher and principal interviews, teacher questionnaires, teacher meeting observations, classroom observations, and standardized test scores in language arts and reading of the student sample population, the school and the district. Some of the findings indicated that: 1. New language arts curriculum materials generated motivation and excitement. 2. Teachers continued to supplement the prescribed curriculum with materials they had previously found to be effective. 3. Students who received opportunities to use both a systematic skill program and inventive spelling appeared to reflect the greatest improvement in the subject of spelling on standardized tests. 4. Of the 11 instructional practices identified for examination, three practices consistently appeared to influence student performance: (a) instruction in both a systematic skill program and in an integrated literature program; (b) hearing literature read daily; (c) and daily writing activities. 5. Observations indicated that teachers' instructional behaviors did not focus on transference of learning through the use of guided practice, generalization, or independent practice. 6. Teachers' estimations of students' progress seemed to correlate with achievement test results. 7. The percentage of multi-ethnic, low socio-economic, low achievement, and learning handicapped students in classrooms did not appear to make a difference in student performance. 8. There appeared to be a limited focus on minority languages and cultures in the curriculum materials and in classroom cooperative discussions. 9. The types of openness and bonding behaviors observed among organizational members did not appear to be effective in bringing about changes in teacher behaviors which would lead to better student performance. 10. Teachers' degree of commitment to the language arts philosophy seemed to depend upon the level of achievement of their students on end of year standardized tests. 11. Reform implementation requires a revised focus on transformational leadership and organizational change processes. One recommendation emerging from this study is that organizations seeking to change must provide training and development which support the change process through demonstration, modeling, practice, correction, teaching, feedback, sharing and coaching in a collegial fashion. This study concludes with a series of implications, recommendations, and suggestions for further research which are needed to create change in literacy instructional practices.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access