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Beating the Odds:
Teaching Middle and High School Students to Read and Write Well

Judith A. Langer

ABSTRACT

This study investigated the characteristics of instruction that accompany student achievement in reading, writing, and English. It focused on English language arts programs in schools that have been trying to increase student performance, comparing those whose students perform higher than demographically comparable schools with schools whose scores are more typical. The study took place in four states and included 25 schools, 44 teachers, and 88 classes studied over a 2-year period each. Although the sample was diverse, including urban and suburban sites, schools with poor and diverse student bodies predominated. Analyses specified six features that permeated the environments and provided marked distinctions between higher and more typically performing schools: In higher performing as opposed to more typical schools. Although some of these features were present to varying degrees in the English programs in the more typical schools, they were all present all of the time in the higher performing schools, forming a consistently supportive environment for student learning.

* American Educational Research Journal, 3(4), pp. 837-880, 2001.

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