Date of Award

7-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

Abstract

Lead poisoning is a serious problem in the United States found primarily in lower socioeconomic regions. This often overlooked, national topic is the catalyst for problems concerning not only developmental and health problems but academic learning issues as well. This thesis project focuses on the area of reading performance for students suffering from lead poisoning toxicity. Assigning this content area foundational status for academic success, questions explored function and performance as readers, specific reading strategies, and approaches for student progress. Additionally, the study discusses student self-assessment and perspective as readers. Extensive research provides historical background information on specific economic, social, and health problems caused by lead poisoning. This three-year longitudinal study examined two primary questions: how do students suffering from lead poisoning and its effects function as readers and how do they view themselves as readers. The four student participants that comprise this case study attend a school district where there is a high degree of public assistance among the families and every student qualifies for the free/reduced breakfast and lunch programs. The academic scores on fourth grade English and Language Arts exams reveal only a 56% passing level. There is also a high percentage of the student population who suffer from varying degrees of lead poisoning toxicity. Methods for the study included in-class observation, one-on-one reading conferences, and parent questionnaires to assess home learning environment and support. A month-long intensive Reading Skills Program was developed to assist in understanding common challenges for students suffering from lead poisoning. Over the course of the study, students’ cumulative academic records were also accessed. Conclusions drawn support the hypothesis that reading ability and academic success are compromised for students suffering from lead poisoning. Even with intensive one-on-one tutoring, development, retention, and recall are weak as students perform well below grade level, especially in reading.

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