Chicago, IL Study 2015

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Early Childhood Education Journal The Impact on Pre-Literacy Skills Development of a Parent-Focused Kindergarten Readiness Intervention Program: A Randomized Control Trial of READY! --Manuscript Draft-Manuscript Number:

ECEJ-D-16-00035

Full Title:

The Impact on Pre-Literacy Skills Development of a Parent-Focused Kindergarten Readiness Intervention Program: A Randomized Control Trial of READY!

Article Type:

Original Research

Keywords:

literacy development; preschool; kindergarten readiness

Corresponding Author:

Paul Strand Washington State University Richland, WA UNITED STATES

Corresponding Author Secondary Information: Corresponding Author's Institution:

Washington State University

Corresponding Author's Secondary Institution: First Author:

Paul Strand

First Author Secondary Information: Order of Authors:

Paul Strand Dan Koonce

Order of Authors Secondary Information: Funding Information:

U.S. Department of Education (PR/Award # S215G140009)

Abstract:

The present study utilized a randomized control trial research design to evaluate the impact on pre-literacy skills development of a parent-focused, group-based intervention designed to improve the home learning environment of families of preschool-aged children at risk for school failure due to socio-economic disadvantage. The intervention involved parents attending three classes that provided them with educationally relevant parent-child learning interaction skills (e.g., dialogic reading skills, active listening) and material resources (e.g., age appropriate books and toys) designed to improve preliteracy and other academic skills of preschoolers. The participants were recruited from preschool and daycare settings in and around a large Midwestern city, randomly assigned to a wait-list control group (n = 75) or an intervention group (n = 94). Following the intervention, all children in both groups were assessed with regard to selected pre-literacy skills (letter naming, letter sounds, and passage comprehension) using standardized instruments. Results revealed positive effects of the intervention for letter naming skills but not for letter sounds or passage comprehension skills. The results are discussed with regard to parent-focused interventions to improve the kindergarten readiness of socially disadvantaged preschoolers.

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The Impact on Pre-Literacy Skills Development of a Parent-Focused Kindergarten Readiness Intervention Program: A Randomized Control Trial of READY!

Paul S. Strand Washington State University Dan Koonce The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Address correspondence to: Paul S. Strand Department of Psychology Washington State University 2710 Crimson Way Richland, WA 99354 Email: pstrand@wsu.edu


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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY!

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The Impact on Pre-Literacy Skills Development of a Parent-Focused Kindergarten Readiness Intervention Program: A Randomized Control Trial of READY!

Abstract The present study utilized a randomized control trial research design to evaluate the impact on pre-literacy skills development of a parent-focused, group-based intervention designed to improve the home learning environment of families of preschool-aged children at risk for school failure due to socio-economic disadvantage. The intervention involved parents attending three classes that provided them with educationally relevant parent-child learning interaction skills (e.g., dialogic reading skills, active listening) and material resources (e.g., age appropriate books and toys) designed to improve pre-literacy and other academic skills of preschoolers. The participants were recruited from preschool and daycare settings in and around a large Midwestern city, randomly assigned to a wait-list control group (n = 75) or an intervention group (n = 94). Following the intervention, all children in both groups were assessed with regard to selected pre-literacy skills (letter naming, letter sounds, and passage comprehension) using standardized instruments. Results revealed positive effects of the intervention for letter naming skills but not for letter sounds or passage comprehension skills. The results are discussed with regard to parent-focused interventions to improve the kindergarten readiness of socially disadvantaged preschoolers.


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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY!

The Impact on Pre-Literacy Skills Development of a Parent-Focused Kindergarten Readiness Intervention Program: A Randomized Control Trial of READY! The home literacy environment (HLE) refers to those aspects of life within a family that facilitate a child’s acquisition of literacy skills (Hattie, 2009; Niklas & Schneider, 2015). It includes parental participation in reading and other instructional activities, and characteristics of the environment such as the number and quality of books and other reading and educational materials that a child may access. These relational and physical characteristics, individually and in combination, have been identified as important predictors of child literacy skills development and school success (Arnold, Zeljo, Doctoroff, & Ortiz, 2008; Davidse, de Jong, Bus, Huijbregts, & Swaab, 2011; Fantuzzo, McWayne, Perry, & Childs, 2004; Powell, Son, File, & San Juan, 2010; Roberts, Jurgens, & Burchinal, 2005). Not surprisingly, HLE is lower in families with fewer economic resources, as is child academic achievement (Aikkens & Baararin, 2008; Allhusen et al., 2005; Niklas & Schneider, 2013). It has been a mainstay of educational thinking for decades that improving HLE for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly during the preschool years, may lead to improvements in literacy outcomes (e.g., Whitehurst et al., 1988). Consistent with this premise, previous research illustrates that interventions designed to improve HLE have been effective (DeLoatche et al., 2014), and that HLE improvements are associated with better academic outcomes for children (Sénéchal, 2006). However, related research reveals that not all aspects of HLE are equal regarding their effects on child literacy and academic outcomes (Hattie, 2009). For example, parent involvement in child learning that require high parent activity levels (i.e., instruction of print concepts and dialogical reading) are more effective than less active forms of parent-based literacy involvement (i.e., parents simply

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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY! reading to children; Sénéchal et al., 2008). It is also the case that different facets of literacy development are influenced by certain aspects of children’s early literacy-related experiences— which are at least in part a function of the HLE. For instance, Sénéchal and LaFevre (2002) found that children's exposure to books was related to the development of vocabulary and listening comprehension skills, whereas parent involvement in teaching children about reading and writing words was related to the development of early literacy skills. Therefore, it is important that efforts to improve school outcomes for young children that focus on the implementation and evaluation of different methods for improving the HLE—particularly for children from disadvantage backgrounds—continue to be the subject of scientific exploration. The fact that many aspects of the HLE, including the quality and quantity of parental involvement, are responsive to intervention is consistent with the belief that parents of disadvantaged children are committed to providing a rich HLE for their children, but face challenges arising from a lack of relevant knowledge, skills, and resources (Fantuzzo et al., 2004; Fielding, 2009). If so, then efforts to provide parents with the necessary tools and awareness to effectively take on the role of being their child’s “first teacher” should lead to improved school readiness for their children. The question then becomes, what skills do parents need and with what forms of delivery, and at what frequency, allow for positive educational outcomes for children? The present study evaluated the notion that providing parents the resources and knowledge that constitute a quality HLE will lead to higher levels of child pre-literacy skills. The intervention that was evaluated is a commercially available program presently utilized by more than 150 school districts, libraries, and non-profit agencies in over 20 states and Canada called, Ready for Kindergarten (READY!). READY! focuses on improving the home learning

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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY! environment by providing parents the knowledge and resources to improve literacy, mathematical, and social emotional development, with a special emphasis on literacy (www.readyforkindergarten.org). The program invites parents to attend a series of three classes that are facilitated by trained coaches who provide instruction into methods for interacting with children in educationally meaningful ways (e.g., dialogical reading, inquiry-based conversations, creative play), and information about age appropriate expectations and goals. To further enrich the home learning environment, parents take home with them age-appropriate educational toys, games, and other materials (e.g., number and letter strips), after learning how to use these materials to facilitate parent-child educational interactions and child-only educational play activities. In this way, the program seeks to improve the quality and quantity of parents-child learning interactions and child access to, and quality time with, educational play materials. These components of the home learning environment were identified in a recent meta-analysis as being strongly associated with child literacy and academic achievement outcomes for preschool-age children (Hattie, 2009). In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention on child literacy skills, the present study utilized random assignment of participants to an intervention group and a wait-list control group. The literacy skills assessed included letter naming ability, letter sound recognition, and passage comprehension, each of which has been identified as emerging and developing during the preschool years and contributing to literacy outcomes and overall academic success (Lonigan, 2008). The sample included socio-economically disadvantaged children from diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds ranging in age from 3 years, 8 months to 6 years, 0 months. The study utilized a post-assessment design, with group equivalence determined based on demographic characteristics. Literacy assessments took place six weeks

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after the final parent class. It was hypothesized that the intervention would have a positive impact on all literacy variables assessed although, based on a content analysis of the curriculum and evidence from a previous pilot investigation (Strand, 2010), it was expected that effects would perhaps be strongest for letter naming skills. Methods Participants Participants for this study included 167 children from neighborhoods in four urban suburbs of a large Midwestern city, recruited to evaluate the effects of READY! on their literacy development. The children all attended a preschool run by a public school district or a childcare center accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Each site agreed to help with recruitment and provide space for the intervention. Invitations to participate were distributed to the parents of the children attending these settings by teachers, family outreach staff, and administrators. Table 1 provides the demographic characteristics for the total sample and for participants according to condition (intervention group and wait-list control group). As can be seen, the participants were a racially-ethnically diverse group enrolled in schools with high rates of free and reduced lunch (FARL) program participation. Sample characteristics as a function of group are discussed in greater detail, below. Measures Demographic Questionnaire. For each participant, a parent or guardian completed a demographic questionnaire that sought information about child age, ethnicity/race, languages spoken in the home, preschool the child attended, primary school the child would likely attend, and special education status of the child. Answers were provided in a forced-choice format with space provided for parents to provide additional information. FARL status for each child was


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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY! determined using a public database maintained by the Office of Education of the State of Illinois that catalogues the percentage of children qualifying for FARL for all primary schools in the State. FARL participation rates are a good and commonly used indicator of socio-economic status (Sirin, 2005), and were used for that purpose. DIBELS Next. Pre-reading skills were assessed using the Letter Naming Fluency (LNF) and First Sound Fluency (FSF) subtests of DIBELS Next (Good & Kaminski, 2011). The FSF assessment requires children to correctly identify the initial sound of words, verbally presented by the examiner, within one minute. Alternatively, the LNF assessment requires children to produce as many letter names, within one minute, which are presented by the examiner on a page of upper-and-lower-case letters arranged in random order. The psychometric properties of both instruments are good with respect to alternate-form reliability coefficients (LNF = .83 and FSF = .86) and predictive criterion-related validity for kindergarten literacy based on DIBELS Next composite score (LNF = .60 and FSF = .57). Woodcock-Johnson Achievement Test Form C/Brief Battery. The Woodcock–Johnson Achievement Test (Woodcock, Schrank, Mather, & McGrew, 2007) is an individually administered, nationally normed measure of achievement that has been widely used in studies of early education. Two subtests were chosen for the present study, the Letter–Word Identification (WJ-LWID) and Passage Comprehension (WJ-PC) subtests. The WJ-LWID measures prereading and reading skills and requires children to identify letters that appear in large type and to pronounce words correctly. The initial items of the WJ-PC subtest requires children to match a rebus, pictographic representation of a word, with an actual picture of the object. Subsequent items on the WJ-PC subtest required children to match a short phrase to the appropriate picture when given three choices. Age-based norms for the subtests are available by month (Grenwelge,

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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY! 2009). Test-retest reliabilities for the subtests based on the normative sample that included participants ranging in age from 2-5 years were .94 for WJ-LWID and .80 for WJ-PC (Schrank, McGrew, & Woodcock, 2001). Criterion validity was confirmed by high correlations with the assessment of similar constructs using other reading achievement tests (r = .63 to .76; Schrank, McGrew, & Woodcock, 2001). Procedures Recruitment, randomization, and attrition. Participants were recruited for the study through a regional chapter of the Children’s Reading Foundation (CRF; www.readingfoundation.org) located in a large Midwestern city. The CRF oversees 15 regional chapters in 10 states whose mission it is to improve literacy outcomes for young children. Through its chapters and via direct contact, the CRF provides the READY! program and other educational services to more than 150 school districts nationwide. The local chapter that participated in the present study reaches approximately 300 children per year with its programs through partnerships with local public schools, libraries, and childcare facilities. In preparation for the study, three district preschools and one independent childcare facility were approached and agreed to help with recruitment and provide classroom space for the READY! parenting classes. These sites were chosen because they had long-standing relationships with the CRF chapter and served children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Based on outreach that included direct teacher contact and flier handouts to approximately 250 families, a total of 236 families agreed to participate in the study and were randomly assigned to either the intervention condition (n = 123) or the wait-list control condition (n = 113).1 Of the 236 families originally recruited, data were obtained for 167 of them, with 92 families participating in the intervention group and 75 participating in the wait-list control group. Therefore, 69 of the originally recruited families

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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY! did not participate, for an overall attrition rate of 29%. Of those families, 80% dropped out prior to the date of the first parenting class, sometimes citing dissatisfaction with their assigned condition (for those assigned to the control group) or with the requirements of the intervention protocol (for those assigned to the experimental group). The remaining families (20%) for whom data were not obtained either moved out of the area prior to testing or their child was absent on all testing days. Results of a chi square analysis revealed no statistical difference between the two study groups with respect to their rates of attrition, which was 25% for the intervention group and 37% for the control group (χ2 (1) = 0.35, ns). Intervention condition. The READY! Program provides instruction to parents about how to prepare their children for kindergarten. The curriculum is delivered across three 90 minute sessions, usually in the Fall, Winter, and Spring seasons. Each session has different but overlapping content, with Fall focused on literacy, Winter focused on mathematics and literacy, and Spring focused on socio-emotional development and literacy. So, while multiple aspects of academic and school readiness are addressed by the program, the content area to which the majority of resources are devoted is the literacy domain. To ensure age-appropriate instruction, parents are grouped according to their child’s age. Thus, if parents have a four-year-old, they will attend classes with parents of other 4-year-olds, and the information and materials presented are specifically addressed to parents of children who are four years old. Approximately 5-20 parents are enrolled in each class, allowing them to interact and learn as a cohort. A trained instructor presents a researched-based lesson using PowerPoint® slides, show video clips, handouts, and hands-on activities. The focus is on learning and achieving age-specific milestones for each domain. That is, parents learn activities that support their child’s early learning at home, and take home a variety of educational tools, books, and

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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY! games to facilitate educational activities in the home. In sum, READY! provides parents information regarding educationally relevant child development milestones, skills for teaching children developmentally-appropriate pre-academic skills, and educational materials and activities that ensure a rich early learning environment at home. For participating families assigned to the intervention condition, READY! classes were scheduled on weekday evenings previously identified during an orientation session as being most convenient for the majority of families at each of the centers. Parent participation attendance rates at these regularly scheduled sessions across all sites ranged from 70% to 100%. In cases where the parents of one or more families could not attend the regularly scheduled session, a make-up session was scheduled within one week of the regularly schedule session. Total parent participation rates for all families assigned to the intervention condition for the regularly scheduled and make-up sessions, combined, was 100% for the Fall and Winter sessions, and 88% (83 of 92) for the Spring session. Intervention group participants were incentivized to participate by three gift cards valued at $15 each ($45 total) dispersed at the time of attendance at the Fall session class, the Winter session class, and then after their child was assessed several weeks after the Spring session class. Wait-list Control condition. Families assigned to the control condition were assured that they would receive READY! training within 4 months of signing up for the study. Each of these families received a $45 gift card at the time of their appearance for the child assessment session. Data collection. Graduate students in a school psychology graduate program, blind to the participants’ group assignment, administered the tests. One month prior to data collection they had received training in the administration of the specific tests used. In an effort to minimize possible testing-situation anxiety, the untimed tests (i.e., Woodcock Johnson subtests) were

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administered first followed by timed tests (i.e., DIBELS Next). The testing took place during the last month of the school year (May 6 to May 20, 2015) in a separate classroom where no teacherdirected instruction was occurring. Although some of the classrooms within the schools selected for the evaluation project included a substantial number of Hispanic children, many of whom come from households in which Spanish was the dominant language, administration of all outcome assessments were conducted in English. This reflected the aim of the program which was to prepare children for entry into schools and classrooms in which English was likely to be the primary language of instruction, and was consistent with the fact that English was spoken by teachers in the daycare and the preschool settings from which the children were recruited. Results The first step in the analysis involved examining the demographic characteristics of the total sample and across the intervention and control groups. Table 1 presents summary statistics for age, gender, race/ethnicity, parent primary language, educational status, and the percentage of children in each participant’s school who qualified for FARL. It is clear from an examination of this table that the majority of participants were from racially-ethnically diverse backgrounds and resided in school districts with high poverty rates. For 37% of the children, Spanish was the primary language spoken by parents. Similarly, 37% of children resided in homes in which English was the primary spoken language. Twenty-six percent (26%) of children resided in homes in which both Spanish and English languages were commonly spoken. Therefore, 63% of children lived in homes in which a language other than English was frequently spoken. With regard to the school environment, 5% of children were identified by their classroom teacher as receiving special education services.


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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY! Table 1 also presents the results of independent samples t-tests comparing the mean values for each demographic variable for the intervention and control groups. Results reveal no statistically significant differences across the groups except for the race/ethnicity variable. For this variable, groups were compared on mean scores for African American compared to Hispanic participants (with Hispanic/white participants included with the Hispanic group and the relatively small number of white, white/native American, and African American/Hispanic participants excluded from the analysis). As can be seen in the table, Hispanic participants comprised a greater percentage of individuals assigned to the intervention condition compared to the African American participants. With respect to the other demographic variables, there were no statistically significant differences across the groups. The second step in the analysis involved testing the hypothesis of the study that individuals exposed to the intervention condition would obtain higher pre-literacy scores than those assigned to the control condition. This hypothesis was examined for each of the four dependent variables using both t-test and statistical regression methods. The former methods allow for a simple examination of mean differences across the study conditions for each dependent variable, whereas the latter method allows for an examination of the relationship between condition and dependent variable controlling for the influence of demographic variables. The results of independent samples t-tests are reported in Table 2, wherein mean scores are reported and compared across the intervention and control conditions for all four dependent variables. Mean score differences approached statistical significance for both DIBELS LNF and WJ-LWID, and no differences were observed for DIBELS FSF or WJ-PC. While these results suggest a positive impact for the intervention on letter naming skills, the magnitude of the effect

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was low, perhaps underestimated due to demographic differences across the two groups. This possibility is suggested by the fact that the intervention condition contained a higher percentage of Spanish language-only families than did the control condition, although this group-level difference did not reach statistical significance. Therefore, in order to further evaluate the impact of the intervention on outcomes, regression analyses were conducted in which associations between condition and literacy outcomes were calculated, controlling for ESL status, for each of the four literacy outcomes.2 Results of these analyses are presented in Table 3 and reveal statistically significant effects for condition on both letter naming variables (DIBELS LNF and WJ-LWID) and insignificant effects on the other two literacy variables (DIBELS FSF and WJ-PC). That is to say, the results of the multivariate analysis are consistent with the pattern of results obtained for the bivariate correlational analyses, with the exception that what was a trend toward statistical significance for letter naming becomes fully significant when demographic differences between the two groups were taken into account. The last step in the analyses sought to investigate whether the effects of condition on literacy outcomes might differ as a function of certain participant characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity/race, or ESL status. To test this possibility, interaction terms were created for each of those variables by multiplying them with the dichotomous variable, condition (Control = 1, Intervention = 2), and these interaction terms were entered into regression equations for each of the four dependent variables along with the relevant covariates. Results of these analyses, not displayed, revealed no significant effects for any interaction term, suggesting that the effect of condition on literacy outcomes did not differ as a function of these demographic variables. Discussion


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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY! The present study utilized a post-test only, randomized control trial to investigate the effects on pre-literacy skills of a parent-focused intervention designed to improve the home literacy climate of preschool age children. The intervention is a commercially available curriculum that provides parents of children ages 0-5 years with age-appropriate and educationally-relevant materials, activities, and skills that align with developmentallyappropriate principles and practices for improving kindergarten readiness. These skills and materials are typically imparted to parents during three parent training classes conducted by individuals who have been trained in administering the curriculum and illustrated good fidelity to the program. The sample of preschool children evaluated in the present study ranged in age from 3 to 6 years, all of whom were exposed to an age-specific version of the curriculum, taught to parents in groups of 3 to 10 persons, organized according to child age. Results reveal positive effects of the intervention on letter naming skills and no effect on more complex pre-literacy skills, including letter sound and passage comprehension abilities. These results are consistent with those of a previous quasi-experimental study with a similarly at-risk population of preschoolers, in which the children of parents exposed to READY! had significantly better postintervention scores on letter naming but not letter sounds assessments (Strand, 2010). There are at least two ways to interpret these results with regard to the impact of the READY! intervention (and interventions like it) on the educational and literacy development of children. First, it may be that the effects of this intervention are limited to a specific skill-set, in this case, letter naming. That is, despite efforts to provide knowledge, skills, and educational materials to parents that are designed to target multiple educational (and literacy) domains, the impact of the program is, nevertheless, limited to letter naming and fails to provide parents the skills necessary to teach other literacy skills. Of course, even if that is true, impacting letter

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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY! naming is a valuable outcome owing to the fact that it is highly predictive and perhaps causal with respect to the development of other literacy skills (Lonigan, 2006). A second possibility is that the impact of a program like READY! is potentially broader with respect to its effects on different content domains, but that the nature of those effects is dependent on child or family characteristics. For example, it may be that child ability levels moderate intervention outcomes in a manner consistent with Vygotsky’s concept of the “zone of proximal development” (ZPD; Vygotsky, 1978). According to this hypothesis, child or parent characteristics (e.g., educational or social proficiencies) establish affordances with respect to the educational domains in which growth can or will occur, and/or with respect to how parents interact with their children (Strand, 2002). If true, the effects of exposure to a broad-based curriculum such as READY! will differ across children according to those proficiencies. For the present sample, it may be that educational or social factors set constraints on learning that afforded growth to only the simplest of the literacy skills assessed (i.e., letter naming). In contrast, for a different sample of children, constraints might exist that restrict growth on simpler skills (e.g., because of ceiling effects), but that afford growth for more complex literacy skills (i.e., letter sounds and passage comprehension). This is consistent with the fact that mastery, fluency, and proficiency with simple literacy skills is foundational for the development of more complex ones (Adams, 1990; Foulin, 2005; Scarborough, 1998; Treiman, Tincoff, Rodriguez, Mouzaki, & Francis, 1998). A critical analysis of the ZPD hypothesis as it is applied to literacy development is beyond the scope of the present study and would require data collection with larger samples of children for which a wide range of educational and/or social proficiencies are represented. In a more proscribed fashion, however, the hypothesis could be tested with a sample of children

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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY! identified as well-prepared to learn one skill and unprepared for another, and evaluating the effect of READY! across those two skills. Either way, the hypothesis would be supported to the extent that exposure to READY! or some other broad, parent-based intervention was associated with differential outcomes as a function of some indicator of child educational or social proficiency. Given that READY! appears to have positive effects with respect to letter naming, it is relevant that future studies employ methodologies to evaluate if its effects extend beyond that simple skill, and for whom. Limitations of the present study include the fact that we did not obtain an estimate of parent literacy knowledge or HLE, so we cannot speak to the pathway by which exposure to the intervention affected child literacy scores. This limitation reflects the difficulty and cost of evaluating how parent-focused intervention effects might or might not be mediated by factors such as parent knowledge and parent behavior (Evans & Shaw, 2008; Foy & Mann, 2003). A second limitation concerned the fact that we utilized a post-test only research design and did not obtain pre-intervention estimates of the dependent variables. The advantage of such estimates is that they allow for the identification and some statistical control of group differences on dependent variables that might arise from randomization failures. On the other hand, the added demands on participating families of multiple assessments introduces the possibility of increased attrition. Indeed, administrators of participating sites expressed concern that multiple assessments would negatively impact study participation rates and perhaps the goodwill of the community toward those sites, particularly in light of regional and national concerns about the appropriateness of high frequency educational testing (Croft, Roberts, & Stenhouse, 2016). On a related note, the statistically nonsignificant differential attrition across the intervention and

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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY! control groups constitutes a strength of the present study, although it does not completely rule out the possibility of third variable effects (Valentine & McHugh, 2007). A third limitation of the present study concerns the fact that literacy assessments were obtained in English only, despite a substantial percentage of participants from homes in which a language other than English is spoken (ESL status). While it is important to estimate Englishlanguage abilities when investigating school readiness, it is possible that literacy estimates for ESL children in the present study were low estimates. We sought to mitigate that possibility via the utilization of multiple regression techniques to control for between-group ESL differences. A fourth limitation concerns the nature of the literacy assessments used in the present study. While we assessed several core literacy abilities, we did not assess others. It could be argued, for example, that it would have been worthwhile obtaining estimates of receptive vocabulary rather than passage comprehension. Several longitudinal studies with preschool children have demonstrated, for example, that receptive vocabulary is significantly and positively related to the home literacy environment for preschool age children (Chao, Mattocks, Birden, & ManarinoLeggett, 2015; Meng, 2015; Sénéchal, M., & LeFevre, 2014). Therefore, future studies might seek to include assessments of that skill to investigate the impact of interventions such as READY! on child literacy outcomes. Relatedly, it can be argued that obtaining estimates of passage completion would be more age-appropriate for samples of children in second grade and beyond (De Jong & Van der Leij, 2002; Kendeou et al., 2009b; Storch & Whitehurst, 2002; Vellutino et al., 2007). To the extent to which we failed to measure relevant pre-literacy skills, the present study may underestimate the effects of READY! on literacy development. In sum, the present results support the hypothesis that a kindergarten readiness program that provides a programmatic approach to imparting knowledge, materials, and skills to the

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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY! parents of preschoolers can have a positive impact on the pre-literacy skills development of those children. Given the characteristics of the present sample, this appears to be true for preschool-age children at risk for poor school outcomes due to ethnic and language minority status and residing in high poverty urban neighborhoods. The positive impacts of the intervention were limited to simple literacy skills (e.g., letter naming) and did not extend to more complex literacy skills (e.g., letter sounds and passage comprehension). As discussed previously, this fact suggests the importance of future studies that investigate further the impact of READY!, and other parentbased interventions, with different populations and across different literacy (and non-literacy) skill domains.

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Endnotes 1. The number of participants assigned to each group was not identical owing to the fact that group assignments were made at the time of recruitment of each family using a random number generator process akin to an independent coin flip, as opposed to an alternating assignment methodology. 2. ESL status was chosen as the covariate instead of race/ethnicity because it allowed for inclusion of all participants in the analysis. Analyses for which race/ethnicity was entered as the covariate, instead of ESL status, revealed a similar pattern of significant and nonsignificant results across the four dependent variables, and are available upon request from the first author.


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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY! through television viewing and listening. Early Childhood Education Journal, 33, 91– 98. doi:10.1007/s10643-005-0030-6. McGuinness, D. (2005). Language development and learning to read: The scientific study of how language development affects reading skill. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. National Reading Panel. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching children to read. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Niklas, F., & Schneider, W. (2013). Home literacy environment and the beginning of reading and spelling. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 38, 40–50. Niklas, F. & Schneider, W. (2015). With a little help: improving kindergarten children’s vocabulary by enhancing the home literacy environment. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 28 (4), 491-508. doi: 10.1007/s11145-014-9534-z Powell, D. R., Son, S., File, N., & San Juan, R. R. (2010). Parent–school relationships and children's academic and social outcomes in public school pre-kindergarten. Journal of School Psychology, 48(4), 269-292. doi: 10.1016/j.jsp.2010.03.002 Roberts, J., Jurgens, J., & Burchinal, M. (2005). The role of home literacy practices in preschool children’s language and emergent literacy skills. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 48, 345–359. Schrank, F.A., McGrew, K.S., & Woodcock, R.W. (2001). Woodcock-Johnson III Assessment Service Bulletin (no. 2): WJ III Technical Abstract. Riverside Publishing. (Retrieved on July 22, 2013 from http://www.riversidepublishing.com/clinical/pdf/WJIII_ASB2.pdf). Sénéchal, M. (2006). The effect of family literacy interventions on children’s acquisition of reading from kindergarten to grade 3. A meta-analytic review. Washington DC: National Institute for Literacy.

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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY! Sénéchal, M., & LeFevre, J. (2002). Parental involvement in the development of children's reading skill: A five-year longitudinal study. Child Development, 73(2), 445-460. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00417 Sénéchal, M., & LeFevre, J. (2014). Continuity and change in the home literacy environment as predictors of growth in vocabulary and reading. Child Development, 85(4), 15521568. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12222 Sénéchal, M., & Young, L. (2008). The effect of family literacy interventions on children’s acquisition of reading from kindergarten to grade 3: A meta-analytic review. Review of Educational Research, 78(4), 880-907. Sirin, S.R. (2005). Socioeconomic status and academic achievement: A meta-analytic review of research. Review of Educational Research, 75(3), 417–453. doi: 10.3102/00346543075003417 Storch, S. A., & Whitehurst, G. J. (2002). Oral language and code-related precursors to reading: Evidence from a longitudinal structural model. Developmental Psychology, 38(6), 934–947. doi:10.1037/0012-1649. 38.6.934. Strand, P.S. (2002). Coordination of maternal directives with preschoolers’ behavior: Influence of maternal coordination training on dyadic activity and child compliance. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 31, 6-15. Strand, P.S. (2010). Empirical Evaluation of the READY! for Kindergarten Program on Kindergarten Readiness Scores: Evaluating a Multi-Ethnic and Multi-Linguistic Sample. Unpublished manuscript. Washington State University. https://www.readyforkindergarten.org/images/pdfs/Othello_2010_FINAL.pdf

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Effects on Pre-literacy Skills of READY! Valentine, J. C., & McHugh, C. M. (2007). The effects of attrition on baseline comparability in randomized experiments in education: A meta-analysis. Psychological Methods, 12(3), 268-282. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/1082-989X.12.3.268 Vellutino, F. R., Tunmer, W. E., Jaccard, J. J., & Chen, R. (2007). Components of reading ability: Multivariate evidence for a convergent skills model of reading development. Scientific Studies of Reading, 11, 3-32. doi: 10.1080/108888430709336632. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind and society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Whitehurst, G. J., Falco, F. L., Lonigan, C. J., Fischel, J. E., DeBaryshe, B. D., Valdez-Menchaca, M. C., & Caulfield, M. (1988). Accelerating language development through picture book reading. Developmental Psychology, 24, 552–559. Woodcock, R. W., Schrank, F. A., Mather, N., & McGrew, K. S. (2007). Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement, Form C/Brief Battery. Rolling Meadows, IL: Riverside.

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Table 1 Participant Demographic Characteristics Variable

Total Sample (n = 167)

Treatment (n = 92)

Control (n = 75)

t-value

Age (in months)a 57.74 (7.12) 57.96 (6.75) 57.48 (7.59) 0.429 Gender 0.565 Female 85 (51%) 45 (49%) 40 (53%) Male 82 (49%) 47 (51%) 35 (47%) Race/Ethnicity 2.141b* African American 53 (32%) 23 (25%) 30 (40%) Hispanic 106 (64%) 63 (69%) 43 (57%) Hispanic/ African American 1 (<1%) 0 (0%) 1 (1%) Hispanic/ White 5 (3%) 5 (5%) 0 (0%) White 1 (<1%) 1 (1%) 0 (0%) White/Native American 1 (<1%) 0 (0%) 1 (1%) Parent primary languages spoken 1.330c English-only 62 (37%) 30 (33%) 32 (42%) English/Spanish 44 (26%) 26 (28%) 18 (24%) Spanish-only 61 (37%) 36 (39%) 25 (33%) Educational status 0.715 General education 158 (95%) 86 (94%) 72 (96%) Special education 9 (5%) 6 (7%) 3 (4%) Percentage of students eligible for 0.204 free-reduced lunch 83% 36 (22%) 17 (19%) 19 (25%) 92% 51 (31%) 30 (33%) 21 (28%) 93% 46 (28%) 29 (32%) 17 (23%) 100% 34 (20%) 16 (17%) 18 (24%) a b Note. Mean (Standard Deviation); Hispanic + Hispanic/White group compared to African American group; cSpanish-only + Spanish/English group compared to English-only group. *p < .05.


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Table 2 Summary of Mean Scores on Literacy Measures by Group Group

Variable

Intervention (n = 92) M SD

Control (n = 75) M SD

t-value

DIBELS First Sound Fluency

5.59

8.55

5.49

8.13

-0.062

DIBELS Letter Naming Fluency

17.24

15.90

12.80

15.38

1.844t

WJ-III Letter-Word Identificationa

102.09

13.35

98.32

11.55

1.796t

WJ-III Passage Comprehensiona

107.08

10.58

108.01

9.74

-0.629

Note. a = Standard score; tp < .08 (two-tailed).


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Table 3. Regressions examining literacy outcomes controlling for ESL status. Criterion

R2

F

β

ΔR2

DIBELS First Sound

.189

3.036

-.015

.001

.333*

10.131*

-.174

.048*

.336*

10.376*

-.171

.046*

.054

0.238

.047

.026

Fluency DIBELS Letter Naming Fluency WJ-III Letter-Word Identification WJ-III Passage Comprehension Note. The values in the table derive from a model in which ESL is entered as a covariate and values for β and ΔR2 reflect the effect of Condition on the criterion measures controlling for ESL. *p < .05.