The literature-based basals in first-grade classrooms: Savior, Satan, or same-old, same-old?

James V. Hoffman, Sarah J. McCarthey, Bonnie Elliott, Debra L. Bayles, Debra P. Price, Angela Ferree, Judy A. Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


IN A longitudinal study of teachers in four districts across the state of Texas we used a survey, interviews, and observations to examine changes in teacher practices related to the adoption of the new literature-based basal reader programs. Through surveys we collected the views of over 250 teachers statewide and focused on 14 teachers for a more in-depth examination. We present our results in two stages: Year 1 was the baseline year before the adoption of the new programs, and Year 2 was the first year of the adoption. The survey and interview data suggested that in Year 1 almost all teachers were satisfied with the quality of instruction they provided students and had not made significant program modifications. However we found major differences in teachers' practices; these differences were displayed on a continuum from those who did not use a basal but developed their own literature units, to those who used the basal including the teachers' manuals, to those who supplemented the basal with additional skills instruction, to the teacher who used only skills worksheets. In Year 2, we found some adjustments in practices. Some teachers did not use the new basal at all, continuing in their literature only or skills only programs. Some teachers adopted the new basal with new methods of instruction; others adopted the new basal, but imported their old instructional methods; still others continued to use the old basais. We found that teachers' epistemological orientations were determining factors in how they responded to changes in teaching context and how they adapted their practices to the new programs. Using Belenky et. al's (1988) ways of knowing framework, we found that most teachers worked within the same epistemological framework in Years 1 and 2. Additionally, we found that there was little staff development in any of the districts to support teachers' implementations of the new programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-197
Number of pages30
JournalReading Research Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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