Efficacy of the BrightStart! Program for Promoting Emergent Literacy Skills of PreKindergarten Children at Risk for Reading Difficulties
Purpose: The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of the Nemours BrightStart! program for prekindergarten children who need additional support in order to enter kindergarten with emergent literacy skills similar to their peers. While practitioners and researchers recognize early childhood as a key period of literacy development, many students who enter kindergarten do not demonstrate the literacy skills necessary to learn to read and write. Research shows that the reading achievement gap is evident before kindergarten and that children who enter kindergarten with lower emergent literacy skills are unlikely to catch up to their peers. BrightStart! is a fully-developed, commercially available small-group literacy program that supplements regular classroom instruction for prekindergarteners and is aimed at improving the emergent literacy skills of students who are at risk for reading difficulties in kindergarten and beyond.
Project Activities: In order to test the efficacy of the BrightStart! intervention, researchers will randomly assign classrooms to one of three groups: (1) BrightStart! implemented by classroom teachers; (2) BrightStart! implemented by community aides; or (3) regular classroom practices already in place. Additionally, the researchers will recruit and test a group of peer children from the selected classrooms but who have not been screened as at-risk for reading difficulties. Student outcomes for target children and peer children will be assessed prior to intervention and after intervention. Students will be followed longitudinally through third grade.
Products: The research team will produce evidence of the efficacy of BrightStart! at improving emergent literacy skills in prekindergarten children, and peer reviewed publications.
Setting: This project will take place in prekindergarten classrooms in Ohio.
Sample: Approximately 100 kindergarten classrooms with 800 children will participate in the project.
Intervention: Nemours BrightStart! is a fully-developed supplemental, small-group program that includes 20 weeks of lessons to support the emergent literacy skills of students at risk for reading difficulties. The program lasts for 20 weeks and emphasizes emergent literacy skills such as print knowledge, phonological awareness, language and comprehension, and emergent writing and spelling. Each lesson involves a visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile aspect. Lesson activities were designed to foster attention and active engagement through games, songs, books, and manipulatives. BrightStart! includes a professional development component, during which teachers and community aides receive a two-day training prior to beginning implementation, coaching throughout the intervention, and as-needed access to training materials online. Previous versions of BrightStart! have shown promise and some changes were made for improving student literacy outcomes in this version.
Research Design and Methods: This project uses a multi-site cluster randomized trial. Three cohorts of prekindergarten classrooms/teachers and their students will be recruited for the study. Classrooms/teachers will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) BrightStart! implemented by classroom teachers; (2) BrightStart! implemented by community aides; or (3) business-as-usual control. Students in each classroom will be screened for reading difficulties, and those who show evidence of reading difficulties will be the target children and will participate in the three conditions above. Also, an equal number of peers in each classroom, who do not show evidence of reading difficulties, will be assessed but will not receive any BrightStart! intervention, regardless of which group their classroom is assigned. All target and peer children will be pre- and post-tested, and will be followed longitudinally. Target children will be assessed in kindergarten and grade 1. State assessment data will be collected for both target and peer children in kindergarten and grade 3.
Control Condition: Students receive standard classroom practices in place at the school.
Key Measures: The research team will screen students for reading difficulties using the Get Ready to Read!-Revised tool. Student outcome measures will include the Test of Preschool Literacy, the Narrative Assessment Protocol, and the subscales of the Woodcock Johnson. Follow-up standardized state assessment data will include the Ohio Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and the Ohio Assessments of Achievement. Fidelity of implementation will be measured using the Nemours Fidelity Implementation Record, the Quality of Intervention Delivery and Receipt tool, and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System.
Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use multilevel modeling to examine the efficacy of BrightStart! on student emergent literacy outcomes. The models will include students at level 1 and classrooms/teachers at level 2. The research team will examine differences between treatment groups and differences between target and peer children.