Mandated Literacy Curricula: Teachers’ Perceptions of Fundations in the K-3 Classroom

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Dr. Ken Williams


This research explores Kindergarten through third grade teachers’ perceptions of a district-mandated, phonics-based literacy program called Fundations. The researcher’s experience with Fundations, her practice as a classroom teacher, and her theoretical study led her to her research question: How do teachers perceive the Fundations curriculum to improve students’ reading ability? The researcher used informal interviews of a sampling of nine classroom teachers familiar with Fundations to gather her data. Teachers spoke to Fundations’ overall structure, how they believe children learn to read, their philosophies on children’s capacity to learn, their feelings about the teacher’s role and power, and the changing tides in education, such as Common Core and standardization, and how they have affected their teaching practice. Teachers’ responses illustrated their belief that Fundations is an individualized, ‘regurgitate-knowledge’ program. They spoke to its denial of critical thinking, collaborative or group work, and enthusiasm for learning. The researcher concludes that many teachers perceive Fundations to be somewhat effective as a spelling and decoding program. Additionally, teachers believe the power of the education designer to have shifted from the hands of the teacher to the hands of the so-called scientist. One could argue that this power shift perpetuates curricular uniformity, teachers as script-readers, ability-grouped students, and the continued development of an uncritical, individualized, and competitive working class. Further research could analyze the demography of schools in which Fundations is taught, which children of these schools benefit from the program, and in what ways they benefit.


Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Methods | Education Economics | Elementary Education and Teaching | Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education

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