Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Major Professor

R. Michael Barker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carolyn Ford, CCC-SLP

Committee Member

Cara Babon, M.S., CCC-SLP


augmentative and alternative communication, phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, complex communication needs, dynamic assessment


Children with complex communication needs (CCN) routinely have difficulty attaining appropriate literacy skills. Two indicators of literacy development are the alphabetic principle and phonemic awareness (Byrne & Fielding-Barnsley, 1989). The acquisition of minimal literacy skills such as letter sound knowledge can give children with CCN the opportunity to communicate and generate their own messages, instead of being reliant on vocabulary provided by others. In order to identify appropriate intervention approaches, nonverbal assessments of phonological and phonemic awareness for individuals with CCN are needed.

The purpose of this study was to determine the reliability of the Dynamic Assessment of the Alphabetic Principle, as well as determine to what extent the performance of DAAP was associated with other measures of phonological and phonemic awareness and emergent reading skills. The DAAP was administered over the course of one to five session to seven participants with an assortment of developmental and language disorders. In addition to the DAAP, participants were administered a letter-sound knowledge task, a sound matching task that evaluated awareness of first sounds of words and separately evaluated awareness of the last sounds of words (i.e., either sound matching from the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing – 2nd edition [CTOPP-2; Wagner, Torgesen, Reshotte, & Pearson, 2013] or initial sound matching and final sound matching from the Phonological and Print Awareness Scale [PPA; Williams, 2014]).

The reliability of the DAAP was calculated in two different ways. First, Cronbach alphas were calculated to estimate the reliability of items within subscales and between the subscales. Reliability of the items within each subscale ranged from .96 to .99 and the reliability of the items between each subscale ranged from .87 to .99. Overall the alpha between all four of the subscales was .96. Next, bivariate correlations were calculated between each subscale score. Values ranged from .82 to .99, and all were significant according to bootstrapped 95% confidence intervals that did not contain 0. This information indicated that there was a high degree of internal consistency for the items and the subtests for the DAAP.

To evaluate the extent to which performance on the DAAP was associated with other measures of phonemic awareness, Bivariate Pearson correlations with standard significance values and bootstrapped 95% confidence intervals were calculated. The scores on the onset, rime, coda, and vowel subtests of the DAAP were correlated with sound matching first (SM-First), sound matching last (SM-Last) and sound matching chance (SM-chance) variables. The rime subtest of the DAAP was found to be significantly correlated with SM-First variable. Furthermore, the rime and vowel subscales of the DAAP were found to be significantly correlated with SM-Last variable. All four subtests of DAAP were significantly correlated to SM-chance variable.

Lastly, to evaluate the performance on the DAAP in association to other measures of emergent reading skills, bivariate Pearson correlations were calculated between the subtests of the DAAP and letter sound knowledge (LSK). Scores on LSK was significantly related to rime, coda, and vowel.

The data suggest that the DAAP is a reliable assessment. Furthermore, many conventional measures of phonological awareness and emergent reading skills were significantly correlated with subtests of DAAP. The pattern of the results suggests that the DAAP may be a reliable tool for measuring acquisition of the alphabetic principle in children with CCN.