WWC review of this study

Print-focused read-alouds in preschool classrooms: Intervention effectiveness and moderators of child outcomes. [High-dose print referencing vs. book reading without a focus on print referencing]

Justice, L. M., McGinty, A. S., Piasta, S. B., Kaderavek, J. N., & Fan, X. (2010). Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 41(4), 504–520. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ909127

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    288
     Students
    , grade
    PK

Reviewed: January 2022

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Language outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals—Preschool: 2 (CELF-P:2)

High-dose print referencing vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
278 students

91.67

90.61

No

--
Reading & Literacy Related outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

PWPA and PALS-PreK Print Knowledge Composite

High-dose print referencing vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
288 students

0.09

-0.11

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 54%
    Male: 46%

  • Rural, Suburban, Urban
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    Ohio, Virginia
  • Race
    Black
    37%
    Not specified
    21%
    White
    42%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    8%
    Not Hispanic    
    92%

Setting

The study took place in 59 preschool classrooms in Ohio and Virginia with roughly the same number of participating classrooms in each state. Of the 59 classrooms, 23 were Head Start classrooms, 19 were subsidized pre-K classrooms, 12 accepted vouchers, and five were inclusion classrooms. Most classrooms were located in urban areas. Twenty-five percent of classrooms in the comparison condition were in rural or suburban areas compared to 33 percent of classrooms in the intervention condition.

Study sample

Of the 59 teachers in the study, 65 percent were White, 25 percent were Black, 3 percent were Hispanic, and 7 percent identified as another race or ethnicity. Teachers had 10.5 years of experience teaching pre-K on average. The highest level of education among teachers varied, with 20 percent had a high school diploma or equivalent, 29 percent had a 2-year college degree, 34 percent had a Bachelor's degree, and 17 percent had a graduate degree. Among the 379 participating students at the time of randomization, 46 percent were identified as male and 54 percent were identified as female. Forty-two percent were White, 37 percent were Black, 8 percent were Hispanic, 11 percent were multiracial or another race or ethnicity, and 2 percent did not have a reported race or ethnicity. Most students (88 percent) lived in an English-speaking home, while 7 percent lived in a Spanish-speaking home, and 9 percent lived in a home with a primary language that was not reported. Of the families for which researchers had socioeconomic data (84 percent of families), 56 percent earned less than $30,000 annually and 4.5 percent earned more than $65,000 each year.

Intervention Group

The high-dose print referencing book reading intervention was implemented four times a week for 30 weeks in whole-class settings. Teachers were provided with 30 commercially available books with one book to read per week. Teachers were asked to read the book four times each week to the class and no more than one time each day. Teachers were asked to read the books aloud in a whole class setting and then follow two print-related objectives for each book (“print knowledge targets”). Each book was accompanied by an insert explaining the print knowledge skills of focus but teachers were not provided with specific scripting for the lesson.

Comparison Group

Teachers in the comparison condition were provided with the same 30 books as the intervention group teachers and, similar to the intervention teachers, were instructed to read one book each week, four times per week, no more than one time each day. Teachers were asked to read the books aloud in a whole class setting but were not provided any information or training related to print knowledge skills. They were asked to conduct the read-aloud as they would normally.

Support for implementation

Teachers in the intervention group engaged in one eight-hour professional development session before the school year, during which they were provided with (1) supporting materials, including the books that teachers would read; (2) an overview of how to read with a print-referencing style and prior findings of the efficacy of the approach; (3) opportunities to practice print-referencing instruction; and (4) the scope, sequence, and frequency guidance for each lesson’s print-related goals. On two occasions during the school year, teachers received feedback detailing strengths and areas for improvement regarding their use of a print-referencing style. The feedback was based on videos of the read-aloud that they submitted to the study staff. Teachers also attended a three-hour workshop during the winter to review general principles of print referencing.

Reviewed: April 2015

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Alphabetics outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Composite Measure of Print Knowledge

Shared Book Reading vs. Read aloud

Posttest

High dose shared book reading;
288 students

0.09

-0.11

No

--
Language development outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Composite Measure of Language Ability

Shared Book Reading vs. Read aloud

Posttest

High dose shared book reading;
278 students

91.67

90.61

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 54%
    Male: 46%
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Ohio, Virginia
  • Race
    Black
    37%
    Not specified
    21%
    White
    42%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    8%
    Not Hispanic    
    92%

Setting

The study was conducted in 59 preschool classrooms in Ohio and Virginia.

Study sample

Preschool classrooms were drawn from a variety of settings, all of which prioritized academically at-risk children for enrollment. The classrooms included: 23 affiliated with Head Start, 19 subsidized prekindergarten programs, 12 independent programs that accepted vouchers, and five early childhood special education programs. Lead preschool teachers were recruited to participate in the study at information sessions presented at early childhood organizations. Two waves of teachers (84 total) were randomly assigned as part of Project STAR to one of three conditions: a high-dose shared reading with print referencing condition, a low-dose shared reading with print referencing condition, and a comparison condition. Justice et al. (2010) compared the high-dose shared reading with print referencing (intervention) condition (31 classrooms) to the comparison condition (28 classrooms), for a total sample size of 59 classrooms at baseline. A random subsample of children for whom consent was obtained was included in the study, for a total baseline sample of 379 children (201 intervention and 178 comparison). The baseline sample of children was 54% female; 42% White, 37% African American, and 8% Hispanic. The analytic sample included 58 classrooms—30 intervention and 28 comparison. The analytic sample included 278 children for the analysis of impacts on language development (151 intervention, 127 comparison) and 288 children for the analysis of impacts on alphabetics (159 intervention, 129 comparison).

Intervention Group

The intervention condition, high-dose shared reading with print referencing, lasted 30 weeks with four whole-class reading sessions per week and no more than one session per day. Materials included a set of 30 books; a schedule for reading; and a description of the scope, sequence, and frequency of print-related targets to be addressed during each read-aloud. There were 15 defined print-knowledge objectives for each book. Each week, teachers would read the prescribed book, using verbal (e.g., questioning) and nonverbal (e.g., tracking print) references to address the print-knowledge targets for the book. After reading, each book was placed in the classroom library and not used for instruction or class reading during the study period. The low-dose shared reading with print referencing condition involved the same shared reading interactions and materials as the high-dose condition, but adults read with children twice per week instead of four times per week. No studies report immediate posttest results for the low-dose condition; however, 1-year and 2-year follow-up results are reported in Piasta et al. (2012) and are summarized in Appendix D.

Comparison Group

Teachers in the comparison group also conducted a whole-class book-reading session four times weekly for 30 weeks. These teachers received the same set of 30 children’s books and the same schedule for reading as those in the intervention group. They were instructed to simply read the books as they normally would. After reading, each book on the reading list was placed in the classroom library and not used for instruction or class reading during the study period.

Outcome descriptions

To measure the alphabetics domain at posttest, a composite measure of print awareness was constructed from three standardized tests: the PWPA Test (Justice & Ezell, 2001; Justice, Bowles, & Skibbe, 2006), a structured task that examines children’s print concepts, and two subtests of PALS–PreK (Invernizzi, Sullivan, Meier, & Swank, 2004)—the Upper-Case Alphabet Recognition Subtest, which asks children to name upper-case letters, and the Name Writing Subtest, which asks children to draw a self-portrait and then write their names on it. To measure the language development domain at posttest, the authors created a composite score based on three subtests of the CELF-P:2 (Wiig, Secord, & Semel, 2004): Sentence Structure, Word Structure, and Expressive Vocabulary. These subtests collectively measure language in the areas of vocabulary, syntax, and morphology and require approximately 15–20 minutes to administer. Assessments were administered to children in fall and spring of the school year. At follow-up, 1 and 2 years after the end of the intervention, the authors used two standardized measures in the alphabetics domain: Woodcock-Johnson-III (WJ-III) Letter-Word Identification subtest and WJ-III Spelling subtest. At follow-up, the authors used two standardized measures in the comprehension domain: WJ-III Passage Comprehension subtest and Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-4 (PPVT-4). For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B.

Support for implementation

Teachers in the shared reading with print-referencing intervention group received explicit directions and materials at the start of the academic year on how to implement a 30-week read-aloud program in their classrooms using a print-referencing style. Intervention teachers received 8 hours of professional development prior to the start of the school year, two feedback letters based on videos of their read-alouds, and another 3 hours of professional development mid-year.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Justice, L. M., Kaderavek, J. N., Fan, X., Sofka, A., & Hunt, A. (2009). Accelerating preschoolers’ early literacy development through classroom-based teacher–child storybook reading and explicit print referencing. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 40(1), 67–85.

  • Piasta, S. B., Justice, L. M., McGinty, A. S., & Kaderavek, J. N. (2012). Increasing young children’s contact with print during shared reading: Longitudinal effects on literacy achievement. Child Development, 83(3), 810–820.

 

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