Screening at school entry and skill acquisition in the first six months of school: Predicting children’s progress in beginning reading at the end of the first year

Screening at school entry and skill acquisition in the first six months of school: Predicting children’s progress in beginning reading at the end of the first year

First Author: Tracy A. Cameron -- University of Otago
Additional authors/chairs: 
Elizabeth Schaughency; Mele Taumoepeau; Craig McPherson; Jane L. D. Carroll
Keywords: PELI®, Early Literacy Skills, School-entry Assessment, Progress Monitoring
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose
To examine inter-relations between oral language and emergent literacy skills at school entry, skill development in the first six months of school, and progress in literacy acquisition after one year of school and reading instruction.

Method
Participants were 105 five-year-old children (52% boys) starting school at eight public schools in a small New Zealand (NZ) city. At school entry, children were assessed on a NZ-adaptation of Preschool Early Literacy Indicators (PELI®; Kaminski, Abbott, Aguayo, & Good, 2018). Children were then assessed monthly (five probes) with three early literacy skill indicators assessing onset phoneme awareness, grapheme-phoneme correspondence, and beginning word reading. After one year of school, children were assessed on measures of early reading skills, word reading, and pseudoword spelling. Furthermore, teachers provided participants’ instructional book levels and ratings on reading progress.

Results
School-entry, progress monitoring, and one-year measures correlated strongly. Growth mixture modelling identified differing trajectories for each progress monitoring measure. Structural equation modelling found direct and indirect (via progress monitoring) effects from NZ-PELI® to one-year performance, with results varying across progress monitoring and one-year measures. Finally, regression analyses evaluating incremental validity of progress monitoring in predicting teacher judgments of progress after one year of school supported inclusion of both school-entry screening and progress monitoring.

Conclusions
Results support predictive validity of NZ-PELI® at school entry and early progress monitoring in important early literacy skills. Implications for two-stage screening to identify risk for reading difficulties in multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) will be discussed.