Improving Reading Comprehension among the African American and Hispanic Students

ImprovingReading Comprehension among the African American and HispanicStudents NameInstitution



  1. Identify the topic of your project. What general topic related to your practice of teaching are you interested in investigating?

A contemporary and relevant topic I feel passionate about and wouldlike to research for MAT640 are effective techniques and strategiesthat have been used to improve reading comprehension for school agechildren in high poverty areas, specifically African American andHispanic students. With the high teacher turnover ratio, limitedresources and environmental challenges in these demographics,children are struggling with their academics. Reading is the motherof all school-based learning, and if they can be taught how tocomprehend the material they are reading, they will be able to learnhow to learn, which empowers them to move forward and succeed.

  1. Problem: For the topic, you identified, what is the problem, need, or issue that you would like to address?

According to the 2015 Nation’s Report Card taken from the NationalAssessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) measuring studentperformance at twelfth grade, only 17% of black students and 25% ofHispanic students were proficient in reading (.Darling-Hammond,2015). It is very difficult to do well on any subject if you cannotcomprehend what you are reading, including math. I would like toinvestigate the problem of reading comprehension among black andHispanic students. Children that are raised in poverty, those fromhomes where the parents` reading levels and practices are low, thosewith limited proficiency in English, and those with speech, language,and hearing handicaps are at increased risk of reading failure.

  1. Background of Problem, Need or Issue (What has gone before? Provide brief historical perspective leading to the present.)

Questions of reading comprehension and literacy are at the frontposition of debates concerning educational reform (Grellet, 2011).Stakeholders in the education sector have for a long time reached aconsensus that reading comprehension is a paramount part of formaleducation. However, despite this consensus, most African American andHispanic students have been found to have a low reading comprehensionof learning materials used in school. The educational experience ofthese groups of students is one full of disadvantages. Many AfricanAmerican and Hispanic students begin formalized schooling with low orwithout the social and economic resources that many other studentsget, and often schools are ill-equipped to compensate for thesedisparities. As the African American and Hispanic students proceedthrough the formal schooling system, a weak relationship withteachers and inadequate school resources lead to low self-perceptionand poor reading comprehension, which in turn undermine theiracademic excellence (Darling-Hammond, 2015). When this disadvantagecontinues to accumulate, it leads to African American and Hispanicshaving low-grade rates in schools, which hinders their employmentchances. To stop this vicious cycle of low performance, there is aneed to develop programs that will address comprehension challengesamong these group of students and ensure that their social andeconomic background does not disadvantage them against otherstudents.

  1. Significance of the Project (Who are you doing this for? Why do they need it? Who will benefit? What will be the result of those benefits? What will happen if nothing is done about the problem?)

Reading comprehension refers to the ability to read a written text,process it and fully understand what it means (Darling-Hammond,2015). The understanding emanates from the interaction betweenwritten words and the way in which they trigger knowledge outside thetext itself. Comprehension proficiency relies on the ability torecognize words and their meaning effortlessly and quickly. It isdetermined by the cognitive development of the individual (Lei etal., 2010). With sufficient support, motivation, and serene learningenvironment, reading comprehension among the African American andHispanic students will advance and improve their performance rates.

African American and Hispanic students often have low readingcomprehension due to their social background and school experience.Every student has a desire to perform well in school and gainknowledge (Lei et al., 2010). As such, Hispanic and African Americanstudents, like other students, should be assisted in overcomingcomprehension barriers and supported in unleashing their fullpotential.

Different groups and schools have tried to come up with techniquesand strategies for addressing reading comprehension among the AfricanAmerican and Hispanic students (Lei et al., 2010). Often, schoolshave relied on teachers to come up with innovative ways that willmotivate these groups of students and ensure their compression levelincrease as their advance in school levels. Educational policy makershave developed such strategies as mentorship, and providing booksthat have appealing graphics, and writing styles to promote andnurture a reading culture among these groups of students(Darling-Hammond, 2015). On the other hand, parents want theirchildren to perform well at school and gain knowledge (Lei et al.,2010). All these stakeholders have over the years played, differentroles in trying to address the genesis of low performance in schoolamong the African American and Hispanic students.

This paper will accumulate strategies and techniques that will helpto stimulate the level of reading comprehension among the Hispanicand African American students. The collaboration and application ofthis information will help in creating a positive, supportive, andserene learning environment for these students.

  1. If you are doing an action research proposal or a grant proposal, what would you measure (or who would you interview or survey) to gather data? (If you were to carry out your project)?

The study will use both qualitative and quantitative data. Thequalitative data will be obtained from secondary sources that includeeducational journals, books, and policy documents. The inclusion ofthe secondary information aims at bringing together differentstrategies and techniques that have been proposed by variouseducation stakeholders to address low reading comprehension levelamong the target group (Hispanic and Black American students). Thequantitative data will be obtained from an interview with variousstakeholders in the education system including teachers, Schooladministrators, and government educational officers. Specifically,the study will develop questions that will be given out to 10students (made up of five African American and five Hispanicstudents), ten teachers (from different districts schools), andschool administrators (from the same school as the teachers). Thestudy will target to have a sample of thirty respondents coming fromdifferent schools that have Hispanic African American and othergroups of students. Schools with a diverse body of students will beresourceful as the teachers and students will be able to expresstheir responses from an experienced point of view.

  1. The purpose of the project. Identify one of the following seven options you will use for the application in chapter three, and then complete the purpose statement below.

For my MAT 640 project, the application I have chosen is actionresearch proposal. The purpose of this project is to examine theeffective techniques and strategies that have been used to improvereading comprehension for school age children in high poverty areas,specifically African American and Hispanic students.



The purpose of this project is to look at the effective techniquesand strategies that have been used to improve reading comprehensionfor school age children in high poverty areas, specifically, AfricanAmerican and Hispanic students. In chapter two a review of literatureincludes Statistics on reading comprehension, techniques, andstrategies used to improve reading comprehension among the AfricanAmerican and Hispanic students.

Statistics onReading Comprehension

According to Darling-Hammond (2015), there is a wide comprehensiondisparity in U.S. with only 17% of the African American students and25% of the Hispanic having reading proficiency. On the contrary,only 23.2% of the white students were found to have low comprehensionlevel. Clarke, et al., (2013) observed that the disparity in thereading comprehension between various groups of students in U.S. iscaused by a divergence in the social, economic and school experienceby students from different origins (Lei et al., 2010). For theHispanic students, most of them are immigrants who have challengealigning with the U.S. education system, and to some, the language isthe main hindrance (Grellet, 2011). Students’ background and thekind of reception and treatment they get at school determine theirrelationship with their peers and teachers, which in turn affecttheir motivation to read and understand. In the schools that do nothave a very welcoming environment for a certain group of students,the ‘outliers’ often develop a poor image of themselves, whichprevent them from accessing opportunities that can promote theirreading and comprehension (Darling-Hammond, 2015).

Techniques andstrategies used to improve reading comprehension among the AfricanAmerican and Hispanic children

Some of the reading strategies that have been proposed to improvereading comprehension include reciprocal reading (where students aretaught to predict, clarify. Summarize and ask question concerningreading) (Lei et al., 2010), and instructional conversations(teaching that promote aesthetic and critical thinking) (Venable,2014). Other methods include text factors (using factors thatsimplify reading) (Oczkus, 2003) and visualization (use of the mentalimages) (Duke &amp Pearson, 2008). National Reading Panel considersa five-step of learning for higher comprehension that involves,summarizing, asking and answering questions, monitoring ofcomprehension, use of graphics, and having a cooperative learning.Lei et al., (2010) noted that it is important for the teachers andeducation stakeholders to adopt multiple reading strategiescustomized to match the needs of the student.


Parents, teachers, and other stakeholders have a great interest insupporting the improvement of African American and Hispanic students’performance at school. Research shows that various methods such asmultiple reading strategies and supporting culture have been moreeffective in promoting a reading culture and boosting comprehensionlevel. Use of methods customized to meet specific needs of studentstogether with a supporting home and school environment will help toimprove reading comprehension among the African American and Hispanicstudents.

The main points Iwill need to write about in my chapter two are:

  1. The comprehension statistics and disparity among different groups of students in U.S.

  2. The role played by different stakeholders in promoting reading comprehension among African American and Hispanic students

  3. Strategies and techniques employed to eliminate learning disparities and promote reading comprehension among African American and Hispanic students

  4. Ways in which overall performance of the African American can be enhanced and educational policies put in place to support this noble cause



Overview:Practical application (To review the options for Chapter Three,please see the syllabus.)

See following pagefor options and suggested formats

Action research

  1. Introduction and background to the study

  2. Statement of the problem and objectives

  3. Literature review

  4. Research method

  5. Data analysis and findings

  6. Discussion

  7. Conclusion and recommendation


Clarke, P. J., Truelove, E., Hulme,C., &amp Snowling, M. J. (2013).&nbspDevelopingreading comprehension.John Wiley &amp Sons.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2015).&nbspTheflat world and education: How America`s commitment to equity willdetermine our future.Teachers College Press.

Duke, N. K., &amp Pearson, P. D.(2008). Effective practices for developing reading comprehension.&nbspTheJournal of Education,&nbsp189(1/2),107-122.

Grellet, F. (2011).&nbspDevelopingreading skills: A practical guide to reading comprehension exercises.Cambridge University Press.

Lei, S. A., Rhinehart, P. J.,Howard, H. A., &amp Cho, J. K. (2010). Strategies for improvingreading comprehension among college students.&nbspReadingImprovement,&nbsp47(1),30.

Oczkus, L. D. (2003).&nbspReciprocalTeaching at Work: Strategies for Improving Reading Comprehension.Order Department, International Reading Association, 800 BarksdaleRoad, PO Box 8139, Newark, DE 19714-8139 (Order no. 514-553, $23.95).

Venable, G. P. (2014). Improvingreading comprehension.