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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Choice Matters: Equity and Literacy Achievement

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Students’ freedom of choice is critical to promoting equity and literacy in the classroom. When students choose what they read, they are more likely to find books that represent their lives, interests, and personal desires and feel that they are autonomous and can self-regulate learning. Previous research suggests that offering choice during learning activities increases motivation. However, less is known about whether choice is related to reading performance and which factors predict choice. Examining data from fourth-grade students, we found that students’ perception of choice in their reading materials is associated with literacy achievement, even when accounting for the degree to which the teacher reports providing choice of texts in the classroom and student interest. These findings suggest that true choice (i.e., choice that resides within the student) is linked to greater learning than choice that a teacher determines externally. Further, we argue it may be especially important for educators to explore ways to expand the perceived options available to students with the lowest demonstrated in-school literacy competencies.


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