Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: Developing and Testing an Empirically-based Preschool Language and Literacy Curriculum for Children At-Risk for Reading Disabilities Using a Components Analysis
Center: NCSER Year: 2007
Principal Investigator: Gunn, Barbara Awardee: Oregon Research Institute
Program: Early Intervention and Early Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3/1/2007 to 2/28/2010 Award Amount: $1,325,716
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A070136
Description:

Purpose: Language and early literacy skills acquired in early childhood predict reading ability in elementary school. Many children, particularly those with disabilities or who are at risk for reading and learning disabilities, arrive at preschool with limited language and early literacy experience, which in turn affects their transition to and future success in elementary school. To provide a foundation for early reading development, preschool literacy programs that provide intensive, targeted instruction and intervention for children with disabilities and who are at risk for reading and learning disabilities are needed.

To address this need, researchers are developing and field testing an instructional program for improving language and early literacy skills for preschool children with or at risk for reading and learning disabilities. The program will include whole-class and small-group instruction and independent activities designed to develop children's skills in phonological awareness, alphabetic understanding, vocabulary and comprehension, and oral language. The purpose of this study is to develop, refine, and pilot test the intervention components that target these four important skills and to determine the contribution of each component to language and literacy outcomes.

Project Activities: During the first two years of the project, four instructional components will be developed and field tested separately. In the first year, the phonological awareness and alphabetic understanding components will be developed and field tested. The oral language and vocabulary and comprehension components will be developed and field tested in the second year. In the third year, the full program will be pilot tested with eight classrooms, comparing gains across the school year with a nested pre-post design. In addition, changes in child outcomes will be compared with outcomes on norm-referenced measures of language and literacy. Data will be analyzed to determine literacy and language outcome differences among children in each component condition, and the correlation between the full program and language and early literacy gains across the year.

Products: Expected products include a fully developed early language and literacy preschool curriculum that targets children's phonological awareness, alphabetic understanding, vocabulary and comprehension, and oral language skills; professional development materials designed to increase the likelihood that the program will be used in preschool classrooms; and reports on the initial evaluation of the program.

Structured Abstract

Purpose: Language and early literacy skills acquired in early childhood predict reading ability in elementary school. Many children, particularly those with disabilities or who are at risk for reading and learning disabilities, arrive at preschool with limited language and early literacy experience, which in turn affects their transition to and future success in elementary school. To provide a foundation for early reading development, preschool literacy programs that provide intensive, targeted instruction and intervention for children with disabilities and who are at risk for reading and learning disabilities are needed.

To address this need, researchers are developing and field testing an instructional program for improving language and early literacy skills for preschool children with or at risk for reading and learning disabilities. The program will include whole-class and small-group instruction and independent activities designed to develop children's skills in phonological awareness, alphabetic understanding, vocabulary and comprehension, and oral language. The purpose of this study is to develop, refine, and pilot test the intervention components that target these four important skills and determine the contribution of each component to language and literacy outcomes.

Setting: The preschools are located in rural and suburban districts in Oregon and urban districts in Washington.

Population: Eight classrooms and approximately 72 children in urban and rural preschool sites will participate each year. All children for whom parental consent has been obtained, including children with developmental delays or disabilities and children who are English-language learners, will be included in the research in order to investigate how the developed instruction and intervention meets the language and literacy needs of a range of learners.

Intervention: The proposed program is designed to improve phonological awareness, alphabetic understanding, vocabulary and comprehension, and oral language skills of preschool children at risk for reading or learning disability. The program will include daily whole-class activities targeting all children in a preschool classroom and small-group and independent center activities for children with or at risk for reading or learning disability. The final program will consist of 26 five-day units of instruction. Each daily lesson will have four 10-15 minute teacher-led segments. The first segment is whole-class alphabet routines, and the second is whole-class storybook reading. The third and fourth segments are small group and independent center activities that provide more exposure to and practice of skills and concepts introduced during whole-class instruction.

Research Design and Methods: During the first two years of the project, two instructional components will be field tested. Children in each classroom will be randomly assigned to one of three groups: one of two instructional component groups or a no-treatment group. Field testing will occur over 10 weeks in small-group instruction and independent work. The field test will then be repeated in a second 10-week period, rotating groups. In the first year, the phonological awareness and alphabetic understanding components will be developed and field tested. The oral language and vocabulary and comprehension components will be developed and field tested in the second year. In the third year, the full program will be pilot tested with eight classrooms, comparing gains across the school year with a nested pre-post design. In addition, changes in child outcomes will be compared with outcomes on norm-referenced measures of language and literacy.

Control Condition: During the third project year, child outcomes will be compared to national outcomes on norm-referenced measures of language and literacy.

Key Measures: Three sets of assessments will be administered. The first set is given at baseline and after the intervention and includes measures of phonological awareness, expressive vocabulary, alphabetic understanding, oral language, listening comprehension, receptive vocabulary, and cognitive skills. The second set is curriculum-based probes that will be given to children during field testing of program components. The third set is process data measures to identify conditions that support or hinder implementation of the program.

Data Analytic Strategy: Analysis of covariance and random coefficients analysis will be used to test literacy and language outcome differences among components conditions and to show gains across the school year in the third year of the project. In addition, child growth during the third year will be compared against published norms to appraise the instructional value of student gains.

Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Gunn, B., Vadasy, P., and Smolkowski, K. (2011). Instruction to Help Young Children Develop Language and Literacy Skills: The Roles of Program Design and Instructional Guidance. NHSA Dialog, 14(3): 157–173. doi:10.1080/15240754.2011.586611


Back