academic vocabulary, reading performance, FCAT, educational leadership


This study investigated the change in sophomore reading scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test after the implementation of an academic vocabulary program and the change in teacher knowledge and professional practice after a program of staff development in academic vocabulary. The purpose was to determine the impact of the professional development on student reading performance. The study analyzed student data from 2008 and 2009 gathered from the Florida Department of Education, and teacher data collected from a survey used as a pretest/posttest. Variables used in the analysis of student data included demographic subgroups of white, African-American, and Hispanic students and students with disabilities, English language learners, and economically disadvantaged students. Teacher variables used were years of teaching experience and curriculum area. Both an ANCOVA and a multiple logistical regression were used to analyze change in student reading performance. Student reading score performance dropped for the total population and in for subgroups from 2008 to 2009. Several intervening variables could explain the downward change: budget cuts resulting in a change in instructional day from six to seven-period day with loss of instructional time, reduction in number of teachers, increase in student population, and change in start time for school day (from 7:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to :30 a.m. to 4 p.m.). An ANOVA and independent t-test were used to analyze teacher pretest/posttest data. The data indicated a positive change in teacher knowledge and instructional practice, though not statistically significant. It should not be concluded from the reading scores that the program of academic vocabulary was not successful, but rather that vocabulary instruction is only one of the essential components of any plan to improve secondary student reading performance. Further research should be conducted to replicate this study during a time period without intervening variables experienced during the span of this study. Additionally, students should be matched to their teachers to examine the relationship between individual teacher and student performance. This study should be replicated in a high school with different demographics and different level of student achievement.


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Graduation Date



Taylor, Rose


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education


Educational Research, Technology and Leadership

Degree Program

Educational Leadership








Release Date

February 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)