Thursday, December 15, 2011

Is Reading Important in Reading Readiness Programs? A Randomized Field Trial with Teachers as Program Implementers

Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L.S., Thompson, A., al Otaiba, S., Yen, L., Yang, N.J., Braun, M., and O'Connor, R. (2001). Is reading important in reading readiness programs? A randomized field trial with teachers as program implementers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(2), 251-267.

Purpose of study: to examine the effectiveness of PA training with and without beginning decoding instructions.

33 teachers, 404 children, 2 treatment groups and one control. G1= PA training, G2= PA + beginning decoding (20 wks) Pre and posttest data collected.
Many researchers in training studies taught PA in isolation rather than with decoding instruction (phoneme-grapheme relationships) holding the perspective that PA is a prerequisite skill for reading conducted prior to rather than with formal reading instruction, however, there are many studies supporting concurrent instruction.

Research questions for this study: Does phonological awareness training differentially affect student performance on phonological tasks? Does beginning decoding instruction and practice influence student performance on letter sounds, reading, and spelling measures?

Treatments: Ladders to Literacy workbook with 15 select activities to stimulate syllable and word awareness, rhyming, first sound isolation, onset-rime blending, and sound segmenting. PALS Activities: Peer Assisted Learning Strategies are scripted coaching that children provide each other. The two strategies were "What sound?" and  "What Word?"
Link to a video of what these look like in practice:

At the end of kindergarten, both treated groups performed comparably on posttreatment phonological awareness tasks which was a combined score for segmentation and blending tasks, and both outperformed controls.

On alphabetic reading and decoding tasks, Ladders + PALS students did better than other two groups with effect sizes ranging from .08-1.42 when compared to the control group and .02-1.96 when compared with the Ladders only group.  Ladders and control student performance were about the same for alphabetic tasks.  Effects were consistent in both Title I and non-Title I schools. The conclusion of the researchers: kindergarten children can be taught phonological awareness and decoding skills; practice with both simultaneously strengthens beginning reading reading more than PA training alone. Results provide some weak evidence for a bidirectional phonological awareness-early reading relationship.

In the follow-up (5 months post instruction) when all groups were in their second month of first grade (October), there was no statistically significant difference between the two treatment groups and the control group on alphabetic measures, however, the treatment groups continued to have statistically significant scores compared to the control group on phonological awareness tasks.

Of note: Not all Ladders and Ladders +PALS students had positive outcome with the treatments. Nonresponders were not all categorized as children with disabilities. Among the nine with disabilities in the L + P group, there was growth on Word identification and word attack of as much as 16 points, but 5 of the 9 made no gains, indicating that this instructional program accommodates some students but not all.

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