The Effectiveness of a Program to Accelerate Vocabulary Development in Kindergarten
REL Southeast conducted a randomized control trial in the Mississippi Delta to test the impact of a kindergarten vocabulary instruction program on students' expressive vocabulary—the words students understand well enough to use in speaking.
The study, The Effectiveness of a Program to Accelerate Vocabulary Development in Kindergarten, found that the 24-week K-PAVE program had a significant positive impact on students' vocabulary development and academic knowledge and on the vocabulary and comprehension support that teachers provided during book read-alouds and other instructional time.
K-PAVE is designed to build children's vocabulary and comprehension skills, oral language skills, and enhance teacher-child relationships. K-PAVE is one of only a few kindergarten-age-appropriate vocabulary interventions and the only intervention with teacher training materials. An existing preschool version of K-PAVE had already demonstrated some evidence of positive effects from an impact study.
The K-PAVE intervention group included 64 schools, 128 kindergarten classrooms and teachers, and 1,296 kindergarten students (596 treatment and 700 control students).
Other findings include:
- Kindergarteners who received the K-PAVE intervention were one month further ahead in vocabulary development and academic knowledge at the end of kindergarten compared with their peers who did not receive the intervention. However, there were no statistically significant differences between the two groups on listening comprehension.
- The kindergarten teachers trained in the program were significantly more likely than their peers who did not receive K-PAVE training to provide vocabulary and comprehension support to students during book read alouds and other instructional times (e.g., providing background information; making connections to students' experiences; asking students to analyze, explain, make inferences; introducing vocabulary words).
- The program did not produce a statistically significant impact on either instructional support or emotional support (promoted during the K-PAVE relationship-building conversations) in the classroom. Additionally, the program did not impact the amount of instructional time spent on literacy in areas other than vocabulary and comprehension.
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