Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




College of Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Lee T. Hunter

Second Advisor

Rex Ward

Third Advisor

Jason Holt


The COVID-19 pandemic caused unprecedented disruption in education across the United States. Prior to the pandemic, students in third grade struggled with low reading proficiency, a difficulty that predicts persistent academic struggles, school dropout, and even delinquency. Districts in South Carolina and around the United States adapted to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in various ways, and among these strategies were a traditional learning modality, where students attended school only in-person and when possible, and a hybrid learning modality, where students alternatively attended in-person and remotely. It is important to understand the potential impacts of these scheduling decisions on student performance, particularly in third grade reading. The purpose of the proposed quantitative causal comparative study was to examine whether third grade students' reading performance, as measured by the SC READY ELA assessment, vary as a function of students' enrollment in a district using a hybrid modality of instruction as compared with a traditional modality during the 2020-2021 school year. Data from districts using hybrid and traditional schedules were analyzed, representing 1,455 students. Results indicated that students on hybrid schedules had significantly higher mean scores than students on traditional schedules, particularly for male, female, and White students. Follow-up interviews with superintendents revealed that districts were generally unprepared for the pandemic and that roles of parents, teachers, and leaders changed significantly during the pandemic. Additionally, superintendents focused on making informed decisions, reducing inequities in learning related to technology access, and supported instruction using technology. Taken together, the quantitative findings and experiences of superintendents support the need for increased preparedness for potential future disruptions to education and concerted effort on the part of all stakeholders to ensure continuity of instruction and adequate support for all students.