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REL Midwest Ask A REL Response

Literacy

August 2020

Question:

What research is available on early literacy skills that predict future reading proficiency for students in prekindergarten through grade 3?



Response:

Following an established Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest protocol, we conducted a search for research reports, descriptive studies and policy overviews on early literacy skills that predict future reading proficiency for students in prekindergarten through grade 3. For details on the databases and sources, keywords, and selection criteria used to create this response, please see the Methods section at the end of this memo.

Below, we share a sampling of the publicly accessible resources on this topic. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. The search conducted is not comprehensive; other relevant references and resources may exist. For each reference, we provide an abstract, excerpt, or summary written by the study’s author or publisher. We have not evaluated the quality of these references, but provide them for your information only.

Research References

Adlof, S. M., Catts, H. W., & Lee, J. (2010). Kindergarten predictors of second versus eighth grade reading comprehension impairments. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(4), 332–345. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ889083

From the ERIC abstract: “Multiple studies have shown that kindergarten measures of phonological awareness and alphabet knowledge are good predictors of reading achievement in the primary grades. However, less attention has been given to the early predictors of later reading achievement. This study used a modified best-subsets variable-selection technique to examine kindergarten predictors of early versus later reading comprehension impairments. Participants included 433 children involved in a longitudinal study of language and reading development. The kindergarten test battery assessed various language skills in addition to phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, naming speed, and nonverbal cognitive ability. Reading comprehension was assessed in second and eighth grades. Results indicated that different combinations of variables were required to optimally predict second versus eighth grade reading impairments. Although some variables effectively predicted reading impairments in both grades, their relative contributions shifted over time. These results are discussed in light of the changing nature of reading comprehension over time. Further research will help to improve the early identification of later reading disabilities.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Burke, M. D., Hagan-Burke, S., Kwok, O., & Parker, R. (2009). Predictive validity of early literacy indicators from the middle of kindergarten to second grade. Journal of Special Education, 42(4), 209–226. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ823403

From the ERIC abstract: “Research has emphasized the importance of phonological awareness, phonemic decoding, and automaticity in reading development. Special and general education teachers need valid, efficient, and effective early literacy indicators for schoolwide screening and monitoring that adequately predict reading outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine the interrelationships and predictiveness of kindergarten early literacy indicators from the ‘Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills’ (DIBELS) within the context of a path analysis. The results support the validity of kindergarten DIBELS in predicting ever more complex reading skills in a developmental progression from the middle of kindergarten to second grade.”

Catts, H. W., Herrera, S., Nielsen, D. C., & Bridges, M. S. (2015). Early prediction of reading comprehension within the simple view framework. Reading and Writing, 28(9), 1407–1425. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1074936

From the ERIC abstract: “The simple view of reading proposes that reading comprehension is the product of word reading and language comprehension. In this study, we used the simple view framework to examine the early prediction of reading comprehension abilities. Using multiple measures for all constructs, we assessed word reading precursors (i.e., letter knowledge, phonological awareness, rapid naming) and oral language at the beginning of kindergarten and reading comprehension at the end of third grade. Word reading was also assessed at the end of second grade and served as a mediator. Structural equation modeling showed that precursors of word reading and language comprehension accurately predicted reading comprehension in both mediated and non-mediated models. The results have important implications for the early identification of reading comprehension difficulties.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Chiu, Y. D. (2018). The simple view of reading across development: Prediction of grade 3 reading comprehension from prekindergarten skills. Remedial and Special Education, 39(5), 289–303. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1191953

From the ERIC abstract: “We assessed the simple view of reading as a framework for Grade 3 reading comprehension in two ways. We first confirmed that a structural equation model in which word recognition, listening comprehension, and reading comprehension were assessed by multiple measures to inform each latent construct provided an adequate fit to this model in Grade 3. We next examined how well prekindergarten (pre-K) oral language (vocabulary, grammar, discourse) and code-related (letter and print knowledge, phonological processing) skills predicted Grade 3 reading comprehension, through the two core components of the simple view: word recognition and listening comprehension. Strong relations were evident between pre-K skills and the complementary Grade 3 constructs of listening comprehension and word recognition. Notably, the pre-K latent constructs of oral language and code-related skills were strongly related to each other, with a much weaker (nonsignificant) relation between the complementary Grade 3 constructs of listening comprehension and word recognition.”

Clemens, N. H., Lai, M. H. C., Burke, M., & Wu, J.-Y. (2017). Interrelations of growth in letter naming and sound fluency in kindergarten and implications for subsequent reading fluency. School Psychology Review, 46(3), 272–287. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1156227

From the ERIC abstract: “Although letter naming fluency (LNF) and letter sound fluency (LSF) measures are widely available to educators for assessing early literacy skills of kindergarten children, better understanding of the contributions of these skills to reading development can help improve the interpretation of LNF and LSF data for instructional decisions. This study investigated the interrelations of growth in LNF and LSF across the kindergarten year and their unique roles in predicting later reading fluency. Piecewise parallel-process growth models indicated that although LNF and LSF were highly correlated at kindergarten entry, fall LNF status was positively predictive of LSF growth across the fall. Bidirectional effects were present, as initial LSF was also a positive predictor of LNF growth across the fall; however, its effects were not as strong as those of initial LNF on LSF growth. More importantly, both initial status and growth in LNF and LSF were uniquely predictive of first-grade reading fluency, indicating the independent effects of each on subsequent text reading skills. Indirect effects were also observed for kindergarten LNF and LSF growth on reading fluency in second and third grades. Implications for kindergarten assessment and instruction are discussed.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Connor, C. M., Alberto, P. A., Compton, D. L., & O’Connor, R. E. (2014). Improving reading outcomes for students with or at risk for reading disabilities: A synthesis of the contributions from the Institute of Education Sciences research centers (NCSER 2014-3000). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Special Education Research. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED544759

From the ERIC abstract: “Reading difficulties and disabilities present serious and potentially lifelong challenges. Children who do not read well are more likely to be retained a grade in school, drop out of high school, become a teen parent, or enter the juvenile justice system. Building on the extant research and seminal studies, including the National Reading Panel and the National Early Literacy Panel reports, research supported by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has expanded understanding of ways to identify and help children who are at risk for reading disabilities. This body of work has also contributed to the identification of critical component skills that support proficient reading (e.g., phonological awareness, word knowledge, working memory), better ways to assess these skills, and more effective interventions for children at risk of developing reading difficulties, including children who are deaf or have intellectual disabilities. Research funded by IES has investigated ways to bring these efficacious interventions into our nation’s classrooms by developing and evaluating professional development training that increases teachers’ knowledge about literacy and how to teach reading effectively to all students, including students who are struggling to learn how to read. This is important because the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that by fourth grade, one-third of our students are failing to attain basic reading skills. In this synthesis, the panel convened by IES, connects the building blocks of assessment, cognitive and linguistic components of reading, effective interventions, and teacher professional development to show how IES-funded research is contributing to solutions for improving reading and preventing reading difficulties.”

Ford, K. L., Invernizzi, M. A., & Huang, F. (2014). Predicting first grade reading achievement for Spanish-speaking kindergartners: Is early literacy screening in English valid?. Literacy Research and Instruction, 53(4), 269–286. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1037630

From the ERIC abstract: “This study explored the viability of using kindergarten measures of phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, and orthographic knowledge, administered in English, to predict first grade reading achievement of Spanish-speaking English language learners. The primary research question was: Do kindergarten measures of early literacy skills in English predict first grade reading achievement for Spanish-speaking students as effectively as they do for English speakers? Participants were 3,448 economically disadvantaged students (50% spoke Spanish at home) from 243 schools. Regression analyses demonstrated that kindergarten variables accounted for similar percentages of variance in first grade reading for both Spanish speakers (43% in fall, 46% in spring) and non-Spanish speakers (49% in fall, 46% in spring) and that fall and spring variables were equally effective in predicting later achievement for both groups.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Foorman, B., Beyler, N., Borradaile, K., Coyne, M., Denton, C. A., Dimino, J., et al. (2016). Foundational skills to support reading for understanding in kindergarten through 3rd grade. Educator’s practice guide (NCEE 2016-4008). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED566956

From the ERIC abstract: “The goal of this practice guide is to offer educators specific, evidence-based recommendations for teaching foundational reading skills to students in kindergarten through 3rd grade. This guide is a companion to the existing practice guide, ‘Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade’, and as a set, these guides offer recommendations for preparing students to be successful readers. Both guides recommend some practices that can and should be implemented beginning in kindergarten, and both guides also suggest some instructional practices that can be implemented after students have mastered early reading skills. This guide synthesizes the best available research on foundational reading skills and shares practices that are supported by evidence. It is intended to be practical and easy for teachers to use. The guide includes many examples in each recommendation to demonstrate the concepts discussed. This guide provides teachers, reading coaches, principals, and other educators with instructional recommendations that can be implemented in conjunction with existing standards or curricula and does not recommend a particular curriculum. Teachers can use the guide when planning instruction to support the development of foundational reading skills among students in grades K-3 and in diverse contexts. Professional-development providers, program developers, and researchers can also use this guide. Professional-development providers can use the guide to implement evidence-based instruction and align instruction with state standards or to prompt teacher discussion in professional learning communities. Program developers can use the guide to create more effective early-reading curricula and interventions. Finally, researchers may find opportunities to test the effectiveness of various approaches to foundational reading education and explore gaps or variations in the reading-instruction literature.”

Gardner-Neblett, N., & Iruka, I. U. (2015). Oral narrative skills: Explaining the language-emergent literacy link by race/ethnicity and SES. Developmental Psychology, 51(7), 889–904. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1065985

From the ERIC abstract: “Although children’s early language skills have been found to predict literacy outcomes, little is known about the role of preschool oral narrative skills in the pathway between language and emergent literacy or how these associations differ by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. The current study uses the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study to explore how language at age 2 is associated with narrative skills at age 4 and emergent literacy outcomes at age 5 for a nationally representative sample of children. Findings demonstrate that early language is associated with narrative skills for most children. Oral narrative skills were found to mediate the pathway between early language and kindergarten emergent literacy for poor and nonpoor African American children. Implications for children’s literacy development and future research are discussed.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Goodson, B., & Layzer, C. (with Simon, P., & Dwyer, C.) (2009). Early beginnings: Early literacy knowledge and instruction. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED508353

From the ERIC abstract: “The National Early Literacy Panel was convened in 2002 to conduct a synthesis of the most rigorous scientific research available on the development of early literacy skills in children from birth to age 5. The primary purpose of the panel was to identify research evidence that would contribute to decisions in educational policy and practice that could help early childhood providers better support young children’s language and literacy development. The panel’s work represents a major contribution to the early literacy knowledge base and a significant step in helping early childhood educators understand what the research says about the early literacy skills that are essential for future success in reading. Through an extensive review of the research literature, the panel identified studies with the strongest findings and synthesized this data using rigorous analytical techniques to answer important questions about the relationship between early skill development and later literacy achievement, and the impact of instructional interventions on children’s learning. In January 2009, the panel released its final report. This report provides detailed information about the National Early Literacy Panel, its charge, the methodology and analytical approach used to conduct the synthesis, and, most important, the research findings and implications for improving early education. This first booklet in the series is intended as a guide to help early childhood administrators, supervisors, and professional development staff provide teachers with the support and training needed to increase their knowledge base and refine current literacy practice.”

Missall, K., Reschly, A., Betts, J., McConnell, S., Heistad, D., Pickart, M., et al. (2007). Examination of the predictive validity of preschool early literacy skills. School Psychology Review, 36(3), 433–452. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ788350

From the ERIC abstract: “The predictive validity of early literacy skills of children among preschool is relatively unknown. The purpose of this longitudinal study was to provide this examination. From a sample of preschoolers, longitudinal data were available for 143 of the children in kindergarten and for 116 of them through the end of first grade. Preschool children were assessed in the fall, winter, and spring with Early Literacy Individual Growth and Development Indicators (EL-IGDIs). In the fall, winter, and spring of kindergarten, literacy skills were assessed and curriculum-based measurement data in reading were collected in the spring of kindergarten and first grade. Results showed significant increases in mean EL-IGDI scores. In most instances, preschool administrators of the EL-IGDIs were moderately correlated with kindergarten measures of alphabetic principle and phonological awareness. Preschool EL-IGDIs were found to be significantly predictive of later outcomes in oral reading fluency both at the end of kindergarten and at the end of first grade. The diagnostic utility of these measures was found to be strong. Implications for practice are discussed.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Oslund, E. L., Hagan-Burke, S., Simmons, D. C., Clemens, N. H., Simmons, L. E., Taylor, A. B., et al. (2017). Predictive validity of curriculum-embedded measures on outcomes of kindergarteners identified as at risk for reading difficulty. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 50(6), 712–723. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1157259

From the ERIC abstract: “This study examined the predictive validity of formative assessments embedded in a Tier 2 intervention curriculum for kindergarten students identified as at risk for reading difficulty. We examined when (i.e., months during the school year) measures could predict reading outcomes gathered at the end of kindergarten and whether the predictive validity of measures changed across the kindergarten year. Participants consisted of 137 kindergarten students whose reading development was assessed four times from October to February. Measures aligned with content taught in the curriculum and assessed a range of phonologic, alphabetic, and word-reading skills. Results from structural equation modeling indicate that 36.3% to 65.2% of the variance was explained on the latent decoding outcome and 62.0% to 86.8% on the latent phonological outcome across the four time points. Furthermore, the predictive validity of specific skills increased over the kindergarten year, with more complicated tasks (e.g., word segmentation) becoming more predictive at subsequent measurement occasions. Results suggest that curriculum-embedded measures may be viable tools for assessing and predicting reading performance.”

Riedel, B. W. (2007). The relation between DIBELS, reading comprehension, and vocabulary in urban first-grade students. Reading Research Quarterly, 42(4), 546–567. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ776733

From the ERIC abstract: “The relation between Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) and reading comprehension at the end of first grade and second grade was examined in a sample of 1,518 first grade students from a large urban school district. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) analyses were used to determine optimal DIBELS cut scores for predicting satisfactory reading comprehension. A measure of reading rate and accuracy, a subtest that the DIBELS assessment refers to as Oral Reading Fluency (ORF), was a better predictor of comprehension than the remaining subtests, including a retell fluency task designed to measure comprehension. Also, use of other subtests in combination with ORF did not substantially improve predictive power beyond that provided by ORF alone. Vocabulary was an important factor in the relation between ORF scores and comprehension. Students with satisfactory ORF scores but poor comprehension had lower vocabulary scores than students with satisfactory ORF scores and satisfactory comprehension.”

Shanahan, T., Callison, K., Carriere, C., Duke, N. K., Pearson, P. D., Schatschneider, C., et al. (2010). Improving reading comprehension in kindergarten through 3rd grade: IES practice guide. (NCEE 2010-4038). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED512029

From the ERIC abstract: “Strong reading comprehension skills are central not only to academic and professional success, but also to a productive social and civic life. These skills build the capacity to learn independently, to absorb information on a variety of topics, to enjoy reading, and to experience literature more deeply. Despite the growing demand for highly educated workers in today’s information- and service-related economies, the proportion of American adults classified as ‘below basic’ readers remained remarkably constant between 1992 and 2003. This guide, developed by a panel of experts, presents a set of evidence-based practices that teachers and other educators can use to successfully teach reading comprehension to young readers. The panel believes that students who read with understanding at an early age gain access to a broader range of texts, knowledge, and educational opportunities, making early reading comprehension instruction particularly critical. The guide also describes the evidence that supports the practices and gives examples of how they can be implemented in the classroom.”

Treiman, R., Hulslander, J., Olson, R. K., Willcutt, E. G., Byrne, B., & Kessler, B. (2019). The unique role of early spelling in the prediction of later literacy performance. Scientific Studies of Reading, 23(5), 437–444. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1227123

From the ERIC abstract: “We examined the predictive value of early spelling for later reading performance by analyzing data from 970 U.S. children whose spelling was assessed in the summer following the completion of kindergarten (M age = 6 years; 3 months). The word reading performance of most of the children was then tested after the completion of Grade 1 (age 7;5), Grade 2 (8;5), Grade 4 (10;5), and Grade 9 (15;5). A computer-scored measure of post-kindergarten spelling was a significant predictor of later reading performance even after taking into account post-kindergarten phonological awareness, reading, and letter-sound knowledge and prekindergarten vocabulary. The results suggest that, by the end of kindergarten, spelling is more than just a proxy for phonological awareness and letter-sound knowledge. Given the information that spelling provides, it should be considered for inclusion when screening children for future literacy problems.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Young, R. M., Chandler, L. K., Shields, L., Laubenstein, P., Butts, J., & Black, K. (2008). Project ELI: Improving early literacy outcomes. Principal, 87(5), 14–20. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ806302

From the ERIC abstract: “Early childhood and elementary-level educators are engaging in conversations about how to coordinate their efforts to develop fluent readers. There is evidence that key early literacy skills that are predictive of subsequent literacy achievement in kindergarten and first grade can be taught to preschool-age children. Moreover, early childhood instruction and specially designed experiences can mitigate the development of learning disabilities in reading and enhance school readiness. One of the critical factors in addressing language and literacy skills at the preschool level is administrative leadership and support leading to the development and implementation of an early language and literacy model. Through development, implementation, and evaluation of Project ELI (Early Literacy Initiative) in the authors’ early childhood program during the past six years, they have been teaching their preschool children the early literacy and language skills necessary for later reading success. Furthermore, the project has led to collaborative efforts between principals and staffs at both levels regarding ways to meet the needs of individual children as they transition from preschool to kindergarten. The purpose of this article is to describe 10 components of an effective and efficient early literacy and language initiative. The components, which follow a three-tier system, were designed so principals and administrative teams at both levels can be prepared to collaborate knowledgeably with one another on cross-program efforts to develop fluent readers.”

Methods

Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • “Alphabet knowledge” predict*

  • “Concepts about print”

  • “Invented spelling” predict*

  • National Early Literacy Panel

  • “Oral language” predict*

  • “Phonological awareness” predict*

  • Predictive literacy skills

Databases and Search Engines

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched IES and Google Scholar.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published over the last 15 years, from 2005 to present, were included in the search and review.

  • Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations.

  • Methodology: We used the following methodological priorities/considerations in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types—randomized control trials, quasi-experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, and so forth, generally in this order, (b) target population, samples (e.g., representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected), study duration, and so forth, and (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, and so forth.
This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Midwest Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL Midwest) at American Institutes for Research. This memorandum was prepared by REL Midwest under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007, administered by American Institutes for Research. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.