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The IERI Research Community :: Projects

Enhancing Literacy Outcomes for Young Children

Jo Ann Farver

Chris Lonigan


Purpose: The broad goal of this 5-year longitudinal project is to evaluate the effectiveness of a preschool emergent literacy curriculum that is based on state-of-the-art scientific knowledge, with a specific emphasis on children at-risk for reading difficulties and children who are not speakers of standard English. The specific aims are:

  1. To evaluate the short- and long-term impact of a balanced preschool emergent literacy curriculum (i.e., Literacy Express) which builds on previously successful components of the intervention for oral language, phonological sensitivity, and print awareness, delivered in typical preschool settings by traditional preschool personnel.
  2. To determine the absolute, relative, and incremental benefits of a home literacy curriculum in which parents are trained to increase their children's oral language skills (in Spanish or English) using the dialogic reading method, to increase their involvement in their children's home literacy activities, and to provide a supportive and culturally congruent early literacy environment.
  3. To evaluate the relative efficacy of two professional development models (standard or reflective practice) on teachers' success in learning, applying, and maintaining an empirically based preschool emergent literacy curriculum.
  4. To identify child, family, and classroom characteristics that predict stronger or weaker responses to the emergent literacy curriculum as indexed by the degree of increase and sustained gains in children's emergent literacy skills.
  5. To identify teacher and classroom characteristics that predict teachers' optimal response to professional development as indexed by changes in (and maintenance of) classroom behaviors.
  1. To identify family and child characteristics that predict parents' optimal response to intervention as indexed by changes in (and maintenance of) home literacy environments and interactions.

    Setting: The project involves 78 preschool classrooms (approximately 1200 children) in two cities, Tallahassee, Florida and Los Angeles, California. The classrooms were randomly selected from the project partners (39 classrooms in both Year 1 and Year 2). In the first two years of the project 54 teachers (classrooms), 860 children (approximately 16 per classroom), and 430 families were recruited in California; 24 teachers (classrooms), 380 children, and 180 families were recruited in Florida.

    Research Design: The project employs a 2x3 fully crossed experimental design comparing teacher interventions (no teacher intervention, workshop teacher intervention, and reflective practice intervention) with home interventions (no home intervention, home intervention) using a sample of 27 classrooms (430 children/yr) in California and 12 classrooms (190 children/yr) in Florida. Classroom practices, children's emergent literacy skills, and home literacy environments were measured at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the academic year during the active intervention phase of the project.

    Teachers, children, and families who participated in the two years of active intervention (Years 1 & 2) are being followed longitudinally to evaluate the longer term impact and sustainability of the interventions on the children's reading acquisition, teachers' classroom practices, and families' support for children's literacy. Children and families recruited in Year 1 of the project are being followed until they are in the 3rd grade, and children and families recruited in Year 2 are being followed to 2nd grade. Teachers who received the intervention are being followed in each of Years 2 to 5.

    The project employs descriptive, experimental, interview, longitudinal, and observational methods. Colleagues at UCLA (Weisner, Lieber, and Davis) developed a measure of home environment and parent/child literacy activities, and are responsible for analyses of qualitative data on 600 families.

    Findings: Results are forthcoming in scholarly journals.

    Farver, J. M. (2005). Invited presentation at First International Forum, "Best Practices in Promoting Literacy in Young Ethnic Minority Children: Lessons from the United States." Soong Ching Ling Foundation and UNICEF, Beijing, China.

    Farver, J. M. (Symposium Chair), Lonigan, C. J., Weisner, T., Lieber, E., & Davis, H. (2004). Helping parents support their children's pre-literacy skills. Symposium presented at NAEYC, Anaheim, CA.

    Lonigan, C., Farver, J. M., Eppe, S, & Phillips, B. (2003). Assessing the Pre-literacy Skills of Bilingual Spanish Speaking Preschool Children. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Tampa, FL.

    Lonigan, C. J., Farver, J. M., Menchetti, J., Phillips, B. & Eppe Chamberlain, S. (2005). Impacting the Development of Children's Emergent Literacy Skills: A Randomized Evaluation of a Literacy-Focused Curriculum. Paper presented at the Symposium on Changing Early Literacy Environments- Changing Children's Developmental Trajectories, J. M. Farver (Chair), at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Atlanta, GA.

    Lonigan, C, J., Farver, J. M., Phillips, B., & Menchetti, J. (2005). Outcomes of an emergent literacy curriculum in Head Start: Children's response to intervention. Paper presented at the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, Toronto, Canada.

    You can learn more about this project by visiting