America’s Reading Crisis; An Online Learning Solution

Concurrent Session 2

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Third-grade reading proficiency is an indicator of future student success; however 47% of students in one state are not meeting this goal. This mixed methodology study investigated the extent to which virtual school in second grade prepared students for third grade reading achievement using pre and post COVID data.


Dr. Lisa R. Hassler has been in the field of education for two decades with degrees in Elementary Education, Online Teaching and Learning, and Educational Leadership. She is the recipient of the National Louis University 2022 Outstanding Dissertation Award in the category of Advancing Professional Practice. She defended and published, An Evaluation of Virtual School's Preparation of Second Grade Students for Third Grade Reading Proficiency, in 2021, which is the basis of her education session. Her previous work is Family Second Language Acquisition, which also discusses the use of online education to improve learning. In 2019, she was nominated for the Golden Halo Award by her students and parents for being an inspiring Christian teacher. Born and raised in Chicago, Lisa is now a resident of Florida.

Extended Abstract

At this very moment, America is facing a reading crisis. Seventy percent of incarcerated adults cannot read above a fourth grade reading level. More than 80 percent of students who fail to earn a high school diploma were struggling readers in third grade. We know that third grade is a critical academic indicator for a student’s future success in middle school and ninth grade, on-time graduation rates, and career success; however 47% of third grade students in one state are not meeting this goal. Without proper reading skills, our workforce is less robust, job opportunities are more limited and people's lives are held hostage as their own self-worth becomes diminished. We need to explore ways to improve reading proficiency in third grade students now.

The purpose of my study, An Evaluation of Virtual School’s Preparation of Second Grade Students for Third Grade Reading Proficiency, was to investigate the extent to which virtual school in second grade prepared students for third grade reading achievement. I used a mixed-methodology to compare extant data from a state database, teacher surveys, and follow-up interviews. The data from my study demonstrated that third-grade students in virtual school outperformed third-grade students in face-to-face learning environments in reading proficiency by seven percentage points on the State Standards Assessments between the years of 2015-2019. These data were in direct contradiction with the data from the teacher surveys and interviews. 

This study concludes with several research-based online learning solutions using Michael G. Moore’s Theory of Transactional Distance to improve teacher effectiveness in online instruction to increase student reading achievement. A policy proposal requiring all teachers to have online teaching and learning training is recommended for educational leaders. Teachers will maximize success in the classroom by learning how to implement the Theory of Transactional Distance. Parents are given tangible ways to support readers and online learners. The session will conclude with all attendees learning how to make these online classroom changes happen. 

Level of Participation:  

The lecture plan for interactivity will be twofold. First, attendees will take a poll upon entering the room. They will select if they are attending this conference with the mindset of an educational leader, teacher, or parent. This will help direct my lecture and give the audience more information about who they are in a room with. 

Then, attendees will simulate a third-grade Florida classroom of students and their future based on the current reading proficiencies. Each attendee would be a “student” and receive a number which would correlate with their academic indicator to predict their future success. Throughout the lecture, I would refer back to the academic indicator for discussion. For instance, if there were 50 people in attendance, 24 random numbers would stand and be told that they are not reading on grade level (which would be approximately 47%). One out of those six “students” will not graduate high-school, so four of those 24 “students” will be chosen to be high school dropouts and earn half as much as their peers. 90% of the four “students” will be on welfare. This will help attendees identify with third-grade students in a current classroom and their predicted futures based on the current reading level proficiencies and critical academic indicators.

Session Goals:

Attendees will walk away with an appreciation for the seriousness of third grade reading proficiency academic indicators and the urgency to implement change using online education. They will be able to describe the plans needed for education leaders, teachers, and parents to lead, shape, and inspire change.