Efficacy of a Supplemental Phonemic Awareness Curriculum to Instruct Preschoolers With Delays in Early Literacy Development

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Purpose: Children who do not develop early literacy skills, especially phonological awareness (PA) and alphabet knowledge, prior to kindergarten are at risk for reading difficulties. We investigated a supplemental curriculum with children demonstrating delays in these skills.

Method: A cluster randomized design with 104 preschool-age children in 39 classrooms was used to determine the efficacy of a supplemental PA curriculum, PAth to Literacy. The curriculum consists of 36 daily scripted 10-min lessons with interactive games designed to teach PA and alphabet skills. A vocabulary intervention (Story Friends), which also uses a small-group format, served as the comparison condition.

Results: Multilevel modeling indicated that children in the experimental condition demonstrated significantly greater gains on the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) First Sound Fluency (Dynamic Measurement Group, 2006) and Word Parts Fluency (Kaminski & Powell-Smith, 2011) measures. Educational relevance was evident: 82% of the children in the experimental condition met the kindergarten benchmark for First Sound Fluency compared with 34% of the children in the comparison condition. Teachers reported overall satisfaction with the lessons.

Conclusions: Results indicated that the vast majority of children demonstrating early literacy delays in preschool may benefit from a supplemental PA curriculum that has the potential to prevent reading difficulties as children transition to kindergarten.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, v. 60, issue 1, p. 89-103