Development of kindergarten writing as a predictor of end of the year reading scores

Development of kindergarten writing as a predictor of end of the year reading scores

First Author: Elena Bodrova -- Tools of the Mind
Additional authors/chairs: 
Deborah Leong
Keywords: Writing development, Kindergarten, Predictors of reading skills, Early Literacy Skills, Writing Instruction
Abstract / Summary: 

As closing achievement gap remains a persistent challenge for educators the need grows for innovative and effective strategies to support emergent readers and writers that would prevent most vulnerable children from falling behind. Compared to a substantial body of research identifying early precursors of reading and their contribution to the later reading scores there are relatively few studies connecting early writing with the reading outcomes. In addition, existing studies mostly use on-time measurement as a predictor of future outcomes while the information about the dynamics of early writing skills does not get examined in detail. It can be possibly due to the fact that the descriptions of the main stages in early writing development are too broad to be used for on-going assessment. At the same time, the on-going assessment of children’s writing would not only enrich our knowledge of children’s literacy development but can also provide much needed information to classroom teachers and even replace de-contextualized assessments of early literacy skills that are now commonly used for children at risk for reading failure. We will discuss the results of our analysis of writing samples of 100 kindergartners from low-income urban school district collected throughout current school year. The classrooms these children attend are using Tools of the Mind curriculum. Developmental trajectories for children’s writing will be established using a combination of curriculum-based assessment and a letter distance measure used in the research on invented spelling. These developmental trajectories as well as the end of the year scores of children’s writing samples will be compared with the scores on the district reading assessment. We hypothesize that children need to reach a certain sub-stage within the alphabetic stage to be able to score at or above grade level in reading. The study will provide new insights on the writing-reading connection in its earliest stages.