Students were drawn from 27 kindergarten classrooms in 10 elementary schools in the Midwest of the United States.
Stepping Stones to Literacy is designed as a supplement to core literacy instruction. Lessons are delivered in a one-to-one scripted format by paraprofessional staff during times that were deemed by teachers to be least disruptive to a given student's educational program. Each daily lesson included 10 to 20 minutes of instruction, during which time children were guided through a set of activities designed to promote six prereading skills: (1) identification, manipulation, and memory of environmental sounds [i.e., parallel phonemic awareness tasks], (2) letter names, (3) sentence meanings [i.e., sentence recognition, sentence generation], (4) phonological awareness [i.e., rhyme identification, rhyme generation, word segmentation, syllable blending, and onset-time blending], (5) phonemic awareness [i.e., phoneme deletion, phoneme identification, phoneme segmentation, phoneme change], and (6) serial processing [i.e., rapid automatic naming].
Children in the control group received the core kindergarten literacy instruction offered in the classroom. Teachers in participating schools did not use a formal basal series to guide literacy instruction. Literacy instruction focused on (1) instructional activities centered on concepts of print (e.g., parts of books and their function, predictions based on illustrations or stories, connection of events in text and life, letter names) and (2) instructional activities focused on preparing students to word read (e.g., phonemic awareness, letter-sound correspondence, sight words, writing letters). Teachers also had access to the phonics supplement of the Open Court reading program.
Support for implementation
Tutor training included presentation of the theory/rationale for Stepping Stones; description and modeling of instructional activities; tutor practice of instructional activities with one another; and tutor presentation of three complete, randomly selected lessons. Teachers were required to implement at least 90% of the intervention's lesson components prior to tutoring children. Following training, tutors were observed and received corrective feedback during the first five lessons.