Student response to Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) as an eighth-grade literacy practice

Diane Mary Kvilesz, Fordham University


This study investigated the literacy practices of 9 eighth-grade students who participated in a program of daily Sustained Silent Reading (SSR). Students reported their activities and attitudes towards SSR by means of interviews and written responses. Teacher observations supported their responses. Standardized test scores for participating and nonparticipating SSR students were compared documenting the value of SSR as an eighth-grade literacy practice. Eighth-grade students began each Language Arts class with 20 minutes of SSR. As students became familiar with the practice, recurring patterns of reading behavior were observed and recorded. Students who entered the room, obtained reading material, and began reading were designated the engaged readers. Students who followed similar behaviors but took longer to make reading selections, engaged in other literacy practices such as writing or talking, and ultimately spent fewer minutes reading were the moderately engaged readers. The minimally engaged readers read, but with many more interruptions which prohibited reading for the full 20 minutes. Distracted behaviors included looking out the window, playing with pens or pencils, and daydreaming. All students read during class SSR for varying lengths of time. Student responses to SSR were consistent, no matter the degree of engagement. SSR was important according to students because it provided them the opportunity to read self-selected material during the school day. The study found that students respected the rights of others who were reading. Participants reported a positive attitude towards SSR and reading. Standardized test results of participating students surpassed scores earned by the nonparticipants. Previous studies of SSR concluded that SSR had a positive influence on adolescent reading proficiency. Studies involving younger students do not corroborate these results. Those who do not endorse SSR as a classroom literacy practice cite inadequate scientific research for their decision. Future studies of SSR as a literacy practice for students in grades other than eighth are recommended. Future studies that investigate the effect of recommendation on student selection of reading material are also recommended.

Subject Area

Literacy|Reading instruction

Recommended Citation

Kvilesz, Diane Mary, "Student response to Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) as an eighth-grade literacy practice" (2007). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3262843.