Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Susan M. Zgliczynski, PhD, Director; Robert L. Infantino, EdD; Edward Kujawa Jr., PhD


children & youth, evaluation study, Leadership studies, Learning disabilities, Pirk Reading Program, reading and learning development, Special education, teaching


An emerging view on learning disabilities is that failure in learning to read in the early grades results in continuing failure in school, along with cognitive and social/emotional dysfunctions: Educational leaders have called for reading programs that are maximally effective and minimally time-consuming, and are suited to the needs of our particular students. Leaders in the field of special education stressed a need for the prevention of failure. This evaluation study examined how the PIRK reading program components fit with the current literature on teaching reading and language arts to all children and to LD children. This study investigated the effects of the PIRK reading program on LD students in the early grades and elicited teachers' perceptions of the effects of PIRK on LD students' academic-related classroom behaviors. The subjects were 14 LD students using PIRK and 13 LD controls not using PIRK in resource rooms in Texas. Scores on tests of reading, spelling, writing, and listening were compared. The results of the data analysis indicated that students using the primary PIRK outperformed the controls in word knowledge and the intermediate group using the revised PIRK outperformed the controls in listening comprehension. A resource teacher reported that LD students' test scores in reading rose rapidly when they began using the new primary PIRK. Students were able to achieve 90% to 100% accuracy in decoding, in both the primary and the revised PIRK, and 75% to 85% accuracy in the upper revised PIRK levels. Teachers also reported that PIRK had positive effects on student academic-related classroom behaviors. The current literature on theory, research, and practice supported an approach like PIRK and the PIRK components as effective for teaching phonics, decoding, word knowledge, and beginning reading to children and specifically to LD children. Information from this evaluation study indicated a need to reduce the difficulty in the upper levels of the revised PIRK. There is a need for more word meanings in sentences, in stories, and in nursery rhymes, along with comprehension strategies beginning in third grade.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access