Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)


Education Specialties

First Advisor

Michael Sampson

Second Advisor

Bonnie Johnson


The purpose of this descriptive phenomenological study was to investigate kindergarten teachers’ beliefs about literacy and the relevance of assessments at the kindergarten level, the literacy skills kindergarteners should possess, how these skills are acquired, to what extent their beliefs about literacy influenced their instructional methodology, and their perspectives on the role of parental involvement. This study was guided by six research questions. The participants consisted of twenty kindergarten teachers from various elementary public schools within a large and diverse school district in Virginia. The participants are from two ethnic backgrounds and had ranges of experience teaching kindergarten. Over a period of four months, data were collected and analyzed using the data analysis model proposed by Moustakas (1994). Data were obtained from the participants via one method. In-depth individual interviews provided detailed information on each teacher’s knowledge and views about literacy, assessments, parental involvement, and best practices. Numerical data from Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 are from the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screener (PALS) assessment. With the exception of one public school district, all public schools in Virginia use the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screener (PALS) to screen kindergarten to third grade students. The 2023-2024 period is the final time that PALS will be used. It was upgraded and changed to Virginia Language and Literacy Screener (VALLS). The PALS visual data came from the participants’ elementary schools. It added better understanding for the reasons for each teacher’s beliefs about the assessment data results and their perceptions about its current and future impact. This investigation has the potential to inform school and district policies. The results could assist in understanding the phenomena within a real-world context. The findings revealed that the kindergarten teachers are in support of the use of literacy assessments and believe that their students’ successful transition to first grade depends on strategic planning, an early start to instruction, and immediate, appropriate next steps after the analyses of assessments. The results also showed how the participants used assessments, involved parents, and engaged in best practice to enable better literacy success in kindergarten thereby facilitating a successful transition to the first grade.