Skip Navigation

icon of glasses and a book Early Learning Programs and Policies


- OR -


- OR -


- OR -

FY Awards

- OR -

Efficacy of a Targeted Shared Book Reading Intervention for Children Who Meet Screening Criteria in Pre-K

Year: 2017
Name of Institution:
American Institutes for Research (AIR)
Goal: Efficacy and Replication
Principal Investigator:
Buysse, Virginia
Award Amount: $3,298,329
Award Period: 5 years (07/01/2017-06/30/2022)
Award Number: R305A170064


Co-Principal Investigator: Jill Pentimonti (AIR)

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of a targeted shared book reading intervention for improving the language and literacy skills of pre-k children who meet screening criteria on the Preschool Early Literacy Indicators, with a longitudinal follow-up in kindergarten. Existing research suggests that shared book reading supports young children's knowledge and skill development in three areas most closely linked to later reading achievement: (1) oral language, (2) print knowledge, and (3) phonological awareness. Shared book reading is recommended as a foundational practice in pre-k classrooms; however, the quality of teachers' book reading practices has been shown to vary widely. The research team will evaluate a comprehensive shared book reading program called Dialogic Reading Plus (DR Plus) that addresses all three critical skill areas, along with the instructional approaches that have been shown to be the most effective for teaching these skills in pre-k.

Project Activities: The researchers will investigate the short- and long-term effects of a targeted book reading intervention on the language and literacy skills of children who meet screening criteria in pre-kindergarten. They will recruit and randomly assign 150 public prekindergarten classrooms to one of three conditions. Teachers in the treatment group will receive initial training and ongoing supports to implement the intervention. The researchers will collect data from parents and teachers, conduct classroom observations, and assess three cohorts of children during their prekindergarten year and follow the children into kindergarten to evaluate impacts of the intervention on child outcomes. The research team will also conduct a cost study.

Products: Researchers will produce evidence of the efficacy of a targeted book reading intervention for improving the language and literacy skills of four-year-old children enrolled in public pre-k classrooms in NYC's Pre-K for All program, and produce peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Sample: The sample will include 150 pre-k classrooms and 600 children in New York City's Pre-K for All program, which offers free, full-day, universal pre-k for 4-year-old children. The sample will include a racially and ethnically diverse group of children, including dual language learners.

Intervention: The Dialogic Reading Plus (DR Plus) intervention combines replicable instructional targets and practices from three effective book reading interventions: dialogic reading, print knowledge training, and phonological awareness training. DR Plus addresses all key language and literacy skills that predict later reading achievement and correspond with criterion scores on the Preschool Early Literacy Indicators, and is designed to complement foundational book reading and provide more intensive learning opportunities for struggling learners who constitute the target group.

Research Design and Methods: Researchers will conduct this study over a five-year period. They will use a three cohort design to conduct a cluster randomized trial to evaluate the efficacy of the DR Plus intervention with one classroom/teacher per school randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) DR Plus/small group (50 teachers), (2) DR Plus/whole group (50 teachers), or (3) BAU control (50 teachers). The researchers will evaluate the impact of the interventions for three cohorts of children enrolled in these classrooms. Each cohort involves a pre-k implementation year and a kindergarten follow-up year. In the pre-k implementation years, teachers in the two treatment conditions will implement the intervention. Teachers in both the treatment and control classrooms will receive professional development and ongoing supports. Children in participating treatment and control classrooms who score below the benchmark on the PELI will be selected as target participants in the study. Target children will be assessed at the beginning and end of the academic year on a battery of language and literacy assessments. In Year 1, the researchers will recruit the study sample and conduct data collection training. In Years 2-4 (Year 2/Cohort 1; Year 3/Cohort 2; and Year 4/Cohort 3), teachers in the two treatment conditions will receive initial professional develop training, refresher trainings, and ongoing supports to implement the intervention.  Data collection will occur in fall and spring during the pre-k implementation in years 2-4. In years 3-5, the research team will follow each cohort of children into kindergarten and collect data in the spring. To estimate the impacts of the DR Plus in the whole-group and small-group formats, the research team will follow children into their kindergarten year and assess target children in the spring using the same battery of language and literacy assessments administered to children during the pre-k implementation year. The research team will videotape DR Plus lessons in fall, winter, and spring of each implementation and treatment group teachers will daily lesson logs to provide information about fidelity of implementation. Data analyses will begin in year 2 and continue through year 5, and dissemination activities will occur in years 3-5.

Control Condition: In the business-as-usual condition, teachers use Division of Early Childhood Education Interdisciplinary Units and other curricula that meet NYC Pre-K for All program quality standards. Teachers in the Inspire track do not use a standard reading program.

Key Measures:  Primary measures include standardized direct child assessments of children's early language and literacy skills, measures of fidelity of implementation (adherence and dosage) and instructional quality and teacher and family surveys to collect data about demographic characteristics (e.g., home language exposure, child/family demographics, classroom/program characteristics) of the study sample. The researchers will use the Preschool Early Literacy Indicators  as a screening tool to identify target children for inclusion in the study. Direct assessments will include the Woodcock Johnson-IV Picture Vocabulary, Letter-Word Identification subtests, and the Print Knowledge and Phonological Awareness subtests of the Test of Preschool Early Literacy. Parents will complete a survey to provide information about family- and child-level demographic characteristics. Teachers will complete a questionnaire to provide information about teacher characteristics and classroom characteristics. The Systematic Assessment of Book Reading will be used to examine the quality of teachers' shared book reading practices.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use hierarchical linear modeling to analyze the data. They will conduct multilevel analyses to evaluate the impact of the intervention on children's language and literacy skills during pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. The research team  will also examine differential impacts of the intervention target children who are dual language learners and for classrooms in which teachers use higher quality instructional practices and implement the intervention with higher fidelity.

Structured Abstract

Development and Validation of the Systematic Assessment of Book Reading (R305A150587)

Sit Together and Read: Early Childhood Special Education (R324A080037)