The Early Bird Catches the Worm: Preparing Children for Kindergarten Joneen Lowman, Ph.D., CCC-SLP Bloomsburg University email@example.com Background • Current legislative mandates are prompting schools to seek out methods for • preparing children for school success (IDEA, 2004; NCLB, 2004). • Early school experiences can influence social and cognitive development and • school dropout (Alexander et al., 1997; Ensminger & Slusarcick, 1992). • Children who attend preschool the year before kindergarten score higher on reading and math assessments at the start of kindergarten with – effects lasting though first grade. are less likely to be retained in kindergarten (Magnuson et al., 2004). • However, limited evidence is available regarding summer programs that can • remediate pre-literacy deficits of incoming kindergarteners. • Setting the Stage • Southern Columbia Area School District in collaboration with the investigator provided a summer readiness program in 2006 that produced significant improvement on pre-post-testing. • Limitations were noted in the assessment tool used to qualify students. • The investigator desired to utilize evidence-based strategies for teaching pre-literacy skills to participants attending the 2007 program. • A new principal was hired who was interested in implementing DIBELS. Revising the Screener • Administration and kindergarten teachers sought to update the school-developed kindergarten screener to include phonological awareness skills. • The investigator felt scoring procedures needed to be based on published data and that a formal protocol for administration was warranted. • The finalized screener took 25 minutes to administer and consisted of : 1. Letter Naming Fluency (LNF) measure from DIBELS (DIBELS, 2000) 2. Initial Sound Fluency (ISF) measure from DIBELS (DIBELS, 200) 3. Rhyming measure from Get It, Got It, Go [Early Childhood Research Institute on Measuring Growth and – Development, (Grant No.: H024S60010)] – 4. Six concept words drawn from developmental norms published on the – Boehm Tests of Basic Concepts. – 5. Ten print awareness items developed similar to those described by Justice, – Invernizzi, Geller, Sullivan and Welsch (2005). – 6. Color Identification – 7. Personal Data – 8. Number Counting/Measurement/Computation – 9. Writes Name • The screener was administered in the Spring of 2007 as part of kindergarten registration along with hearing, vision and speech-language screeners. Setting Participants • The investigator and SCASD administration felt letter naming, initial sound identification, rhyming, concepts and print awareness were critical skills needed for kindergarten. • Children demonstrating deficits in at least three of the five areas were invited to attend the program. • 18 of the 30 qualifying children participated. • 11 children, who did not meet the criteria, attended per parent request. • 2 SCASD teachers, 2 teaching assistants, and the faculty member provided instruction. • Consent for research was obtained for all but two children. Setting • 2 classrooms designated for kindergarten during the school year at SCASD Program Logistics • Program Overview • Monday – Thursday for 5 weeks • 8:30 – 11:30 • 18 days of instruction Day 1 – Orientation Day 20 – Family Open House • Transportation provided • Fund by 21st Century Grant Program Logistics • Daily Schedule • 8:30 – 8:45 – Letter Instruction • 8:45 – 9:45 – Small Group/Large Group • 9:45 – 10:00 – Outside Play • 10:00 – 10:15 – Snack • 10:15 – 10:30 – Book/Music • 10:30 -11:20 – Literacy Group/Art • 11:20 – 11:30 – Prepare for Dismissal • 11:30 - Dismissal Program Logistics • Direct and Indirect Instructional Methods were used to addressed the program goals: • Goal 1 – Letter Naming • Fundations : Wilson Language Basics, Levels K-1 (2006) was implemented. The program was used to provide direct instruction on the grapheme-phoneme relationship for 24 letters. Implementation consisted of large and small group instruction. • A letter a day was targeted. • Goal 2 – Initial Sound Fluency • Kindergarten Peer-Assisted Literacy Strategies (K-PALS, 2001) guided initial sound instruction. • Small/Large group instruction utilizing activities retrieved from the Florida Center for Reading Research • Goal 3 – Rhyming • KPALS • Small/Large group instruction utilizing activities retrieved from the Florida Center for Reading Research • Goal 4 – Print Awareness • Each week a different book was targeted. The book directed large group activities. Direct and indirect instruction during book reading was used to teach print awareness. • Goal 5 – Concepts • Concepts were embedded into daily activities. Research Design • Pretesting – Spring 2007 • Kindergarten screener administered during kindergarten registration • Intervention – Summer 2007 • Weekly administration of ISF, LNF and rhyming measures • Post-testing – Summer 2007 • Kindergarten screener administered last week of program • Kindergarten screener was administered to 5 out of 12 children who qualified for the program but elected not to attend. Consent to participate could not be secured from 7 families. • Follow-Up – Fall 2007 • ISF and LNF were administered as part of school-wide DIBELS assessment. Results: Initial Sound Fluency • Goal: Score of 8 or higher • Main Effects • Significant effects for time and group but not for the interaction • Post hoc Analysis • At-risk group demonstrated significant improvement from pre- to post testing. • Significant differences between groups at pretest only • *Nonattendees were not included in the analyses as there were only 5. Results: Letter Naming Fluency • Goal: Score of 8 or higher • Main Effects • Significant effects for time and group but not for the interaction • Post hoc Analysis • At-risk group demonstrated significant improvement from pre- to post testing. • Significant differences between groups at pretest, post test and follow-up Results: Rhyme • Criterion: Score of 6 or higher • Main Effects • Significant effects for time and group but not for the interaction • Post hoc Analysis • At-risk group demonstrated significant improvement from pre- to post testing. • Significant differences between groups at pretest, post test and follow-up Conclusions • Results indicate that a summer program is effective for addressing deficits in pre-literacy skills. This is supported by the lack of improvement demonstrated by nonattendees. • Deficits in the areas of rhyme and initial sound fluency were remediated for 2/3 of the at-risk participants. However, only half of the at-risk participants met criterion for letter naming fluency. This may be attributed to the number of letters taught. A new letter was taught each day. It appears this frequency is too intensive. • Although, at-risk participants demonstrated great improvements equality between groups was not achieved. Also, approximately 1/3 of the participants exited still at-risk and remained at-risk at the start of kindergarten. Further investigation is warranted.
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