Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Wenfan Yan, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Anne Creany, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Monte G. Tidwell, Ph.D.


Recent studies have suggested that there is correlation between professional development and student achievement (Pritchard & Marshall, 2002; Showers & Joyce, 1996). The specific models for professional development are being evaluated for their effectiveness, as the educational community seeks effective reforms for improving student achievement. The purpose of this study was to delve into the assumptions related to the effectiveness of professional development opportunities and its correlations to student achievement. This study examined 48 high poverty and low performing elementary schools located in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The archival data obtained from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Education identified the twenty-two schools that did employ reading coaches and the twenty-six schools that did not employ reading coaches for the implementation of professional development exclusively for early reading instruction. The 2005 and 2006 Grade 3 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment reading scores for the schools with reading coaches and the schools without reading coaches were explored to determine the difference within the performance levels. In addition, ratings from a self perceived level of implementation effectiveness survey for communication and collaborative practices, instructional practices and materials, professional development, and the reading coach were compared to the percentage of students scoring advanced or proficient on the PSSA reading subtest for the school that employed reading coaches. Quantitative analysis was performed and found significant differences regarding the reading performance overtime as per the 2005 and 2006 PSSA Grade 3 reading scores. In addition, surveys from 17 schools that employ reading coaches rated their level of effective implementation. No statistical significance differences between the percentage of students scoring advanced or proficient on the 2006 Grade 3 PSSA and the high ratings for the level of implementation in the following domains: communication/collaboration, instructional practices/materials, professional development, and the reading coach from the Fall 2005 survey were found. The study also found significant effects of percentages of poverty, class size, and regional location on schools that employ reading coaches and the percentage of students scoring advanced and proficient on the 2006 Grade 3 PSSA. Further research is needed for the measuring of student achievement outcomes in relationship to the utilization of a reading coach as an innovation for professional development.