This multiple-case study examined the role and educator perceptions of the reading specialist (RS) in the five secondary schools of one school district in the western United States. The purposes of the study were to determine: (1) the actual roles and responsibilities of the secondary RS, (2) whether differences existed in the way RSs, teachers, and principals perceived the role of the RS, and (3) whether the perceptions of the role of the RS were congruent with what the RS actually did. Five RSs, five focus groups comprised of twenty-three teachers, and five principals were interviewed. A survey was also administered to the aforementioned groups as well as to all teachers in the five schools. Results indicated that the role and responsibilities of the RS never included instructing students directly but that RSs focused almost exclusively on teacher leadership. In addition, RSs carried out school-wide assessments, assumed two to three additional major as well as various minor responsibilities within the school, and taught four periods during the day. Perceptions of the RS among RSs, teachers, and principals differed. Teachers, as a whole, indicated RSs worked with students, mainly taught literacy skills, and did not perform administrative tasks unrelated to literacy. Principals also thought RSs did not perform administrative tasks unrelated to literacy. RSs disagreed with all these perceptions. Principals approved and were generally satisfied with the work of the RSs and felt they were making a difference. However, they were more positive about the RSs' influence than were the RSs. Focus group teachers made positive comments about the RSs but also consistently brought up the need to have literacy inservice fashioned specifically to meet their content-area needs. Discrepancies existed between the perceived roles and responsibilities of the RSs and the duties they actually assumed and carried out.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Teacher Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





reading specialists, secondary, roles, responsibilities, perceptions of reading specialists