Project: Preschool Classification and Prevention of Reading Disabilities


The primary goal of this project was to learn more about reading disabilities, particularly how they are displayed prior to entry into formal schooling and the emergence of conventional reading skills. Findings from this project were aimed to help early educators develop strategies to help close the gap between young children who benefit from home environments that provide rich language and literacy foundations and those children whose homes lack such beneficial experiences. This project was based on emerging evidence at the time that suggested that substantial developmental continuity exists in literacy skills from the preschool period into the elementary grades. These data suggested that many children are at substantial risk of later reading disabilities. Based on this evidence, it was important to develop a more sophisticated understanding of valid preschool indicators of later reading disabilities relating to reading accuracy, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. Moreover, understanding if and how effective instructional activities could be used to alter preschool children's developmental trajectories to prevent later problems in reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension would serve to provide educators with important tools for reducing the negative impact of early school failure. Consequently, the broad goals of this proposal were to develop a greater understanding of reading disabilities and how they are manifested in young children prior to school entry and the emergence of conventional reading skills. This project involved two studies: The first included 1500 children followed from preschool through first and second grade to determine which baseline, growth, family and classroom characteristics best predicted which children will be in need of supplemental instruction or intensive interventions to aid their reading development once they receive formal reading instruction in K-2 classrooms. Children were present in classrooms that may or may not have been providing effective literacy instruction. The second study, involved 200 children, and investigated whether providing intervention to children who show slow growth and low skill levels within the preschool period altered the growth trajectory for these children, reducing the percentage of these high risk children who demonstrated poor reading development and require supplemental help in kindergarten and second grade. These children were drawn from classrooms already providing effective classroom literacy and language instruction. Within both studies we investigated the influence of children's socio-emotional and attentional skills on their reading capabilities.

Project Active From
January 2008 to December 2011
Project Method(s)
Developmental Design
Funding Agency / Grant Number
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development / HD052120-02

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