Emerging evidence suggests that there is substantial developmental continuity in literacy skills from the preschool period into the elementary grades. These data suggest that many children are at substantial risk of later reading disabilities. It is 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 can be used to alter preschool children's developmental trajectories to prevent later problems in reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension will provide educators with important tools for reducing the negative impact of early school failure. Consequently, the broad goals of this proposal are to develop a greater understanding of reading disabilities and how they are manifest in young children prior to school entry and the emergence of conventional reading skills. This project involves two studies: The first will include 1500 children followed from preschool through first and second grade to determine which baseline, growth, family and classroom characteristics best predict 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 will be present in classrooms that may or may not be providing effective literacy instruction. The second study, involving 200 children, will investigate whether provision of intervention intervention to children who show slow growth and low skill levels within the preschool period alters the growth trajectory for these children and reduces the percentage of these high risk children who demonstrate poor reading development and require supplemental help in kindergarten and second grade. These children will be drawn from classrooms already providing effective classroom literacy and language instruction. Within both studies we will investigate the influence of children's socio-emotional and attentional skills on their reading capabilities. Results from these studies will provide educators with important tools for increasing the reading skill of children from all backgrounds. These findings also will 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.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Specialized Center (P50)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZHD1)
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Florida State University
United States
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