WWC review of this study

Increasing Preschoolers' Vocabulary Development through a Streamlined Teacher Professional Development Intervention [Story Talk book reading with “story maps” vs. book reading without “story maps”]

Wasik, Barbara A.; Hindman, Annemarie H. (2020). Early Childhood Research Quarterly v50 p101-113. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED611720

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: June 2022

At least one finding shows strong evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Language outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test IV (PPVT-IV)

Story Talk book reading with "story maps" vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
474 students





Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test - 4th Edition (EOWPVT)

Story Talk book reading with "story maps" vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
473 students




Show Supplemental Findings

Child use of target vocabulary (Wasik et al, 2020)

Story Talk book reading with "story maps" vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
35 classes





Taught Words (Wasik et al, 2020)

Story Talk book reading with "story maps" vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Sub-sample of 10 randomly-selected children, different sample at each timepoint;
350 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 6% English language learners

  • Female: 50%
    Male: 50%

  • Urban
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  • Race
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    


The study took place in an urban, high-poverty school district in the Northeast. There were thirty-five general education pre-kindergarten classrooms across fifteen schools included in the study.

Study sample

The age of the children in the fall was fifty-five months. The sample was evenly divided by gender. Six percent of children were dual language learners. Community demographics show that the majority (eighty-three percent) of children are African American, while eight percent are white and nine percent are Hispanic/Latino. In addition, eighty-seven percent of children receive free or reduced lunch, and fifteen percent of children have identified special needs.

Intervention Group

The Story Talk intervention provides whole-class instruction in vocabulary, drawing on book- and play-based activities. Story Talk classrooms are provided with materials, training, and progress monitoring of children, all focused on a series of target words. Story-talk has 10 preschool themes that covers 3-4 weeks of daily instruction. The target words used in story-talk have to be unfamiliar and important for story comprehension. Story maps has 3-4 open prompts that can be used for discussion before reading groups begin. Teachers presented the target words using picture cards and other prompts.

Comparison Group

Teachers in the comparison condition received the same books as the intervention teachers but not the Story Maps. Teachers in the comparison condition attended district professional development instead of group trainings for the same amount of time. Teachers in the comparison condition did not receive the coaching.

Support for implementation

Teachers received four, three-hour sessions of group training distributed across the school year. The training targeted how to implement the Story Maps with fidelity in their classrooms, interpret and use progress monitoring data, effectively encourage conversations with children in order to extend their language and vocabulary, and effectively manage classroom discourse, including through turn taking and active listening. In addition, individualized coaching of teachers was conducted twice per month, including an onsite observation for approximately sixty minutes of the instructional day during teachers’ book reading and center extension activities. The coach videotaped the instruction and used the teacher fidelity measure and field notes to gauge what teachers are doing well and to identify problem areas.


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