Vocabulary: Supporting Fourth-Grade Student Growth and Achievement in Rural Poverty

Michele A. Leom


The research question addressed in this capstone project is: how to support the growth and achievement of fourth-grade students living in rural poverty using vocabulary instruction. Children experiencing rural poverty often start school with less vocabulary than more economically advantaged peers. Students receiving Response to Intervention (RtI) interventions often receive tier 2 and tier 3 support during content instruction times and miss additional content vocabulary and background knowledge opportunities. Topics explored in the review of literature include over one hundred years of history in vocabulary research, the impact of poverty on learning, and the effective strategies of vocabulary instruction. The goal of this project was to implement and embed vocabulary instruction within the school day to support student growth and achievement as assessed on standardized assessments. The project includes a two two-day professional development workshops for teachers to determine tier 2 vocabulary words and develop a district scope and sequence of vocabulary in grades Kindergarten to fourth grade using researched-based effective vocabulary instructional strategies.