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Evaluation of the effectiveness of an early literacy program for students with significant developmental disabilities.

For the last 2 decades, educators have placed strong emphasis on teaching students to read using scientifically based interventions, implemented through the federal government's Reading First initiative and defined in research synthesis reports (Adams, 1990; National Institute for Literacy, 2001). These reports provide converging evidence that learning to read is influenced by foundational, emergent emergent /emer·gent/ (e-mer´jent)
1. coming out from a cavity or other part.

2. pertaining to an emergency.


1. coming out from a cavity or other part.

2. coming on suddenly.
 literacy skills. The National Reading Panel (NRP (Network Resource Planning) The planning, scheduling and control of a computer network. It includes documentation writing and network diagramming, analyses of traffic and congestion, analyses of application behavior and demand, procedures for failsafe and disaster , 2000) identified five essential components of reading instruction: (a) phonemic awareness Phonemic Awareness is a subset of phonological awareness in which listeners are able to distinguish phonemes, the smallest units of sound that can differentiate meaning. For example, a listener with phonemic awareness can break the word "Cat" into three separate phonemes: /k/, /a/, , (b) phonics phonics

Method of reading instruction that breaks language down into its simplest components. Children learn the sounds of individual letters first, then the sounds of letters in combination and in simple words.
, (c) fluency, (d) vocabulary, and (e) comprehension. In a comprehensive review of research on reading instruction for students with significant developmental disabilities, Browder, Wakeman, Spooner, Ahlgrim-Delzell, and Algozzine (2006) found that the majority of studies for this population focused on sight word acquisition; only a small portion targeted comprehension of these words.

Additional research also suggests that the "science of reading" that emerged during this same time period bypassed students with significant intellectual and developmental disabilities. Qualitative research Qualitative research

Traditional analysis of firm-specific prospects for future earnings. It may be based on data collected by the analysts, there is no formal quantitative framework used to generate projections.
 including content analyses of textbooks (Katims, 2000) and ethnographic studies ethnographic studies, methods of qualitative research developed by anthropologists, in which the researcher attends to and inter-prets communication while participating in the research context.
 of children's school experiences (Kliewer, 1998) reveals, a consistent lack of focus on reading for this population--who are probably the least likely to learn to read without carefully planned, explicit instruction. In contrast, the evidence-based practices Browder et al. (2006) identified in their comprehensive review used systematic prompting and feedback procedures during massed trials of sight words instruction (e.g., flash card drills). Many of these prompting procedures, such as time delay, promoted errorless learning Errorless learning
Errorless learning is a procedure introduced by Herbert Terrace (1963) which allows discrimination learning to occur with few or even with no responses to the negative stimulus (abbreviated S-).
 through providing preresponse prompting systematically faded across teaching trials (e.g., by delaying the time before the prompt was introduced).

As noted by NRP (2000), decoding de·code  
tr.v. de·cod·ed, de·cod·ing, de·codes
1. To convert from code into plain text.

2. To convert from a scrambled electronic signal into an interpretable one.

 skills, not just sight word recognition, are essential to gaining competence as a reader. A few studies have taught phonics to students with moderate intellectual disabilities. Barudin and Hourcade (1990) and Lane and Critchfield (1998) found that students with moderate intellectual disabilities benefited from phonemic awareness training and phonics instruction. Hoogeveen, Smeets, and Lancioni (1989) and Hoogeveen, Smeets, and van der Houven (1987) also demonstrated positive outcomes introducing letter-sound correspondences to students with moderate intellectual disabilities. Bracey, Maggs, and Morath (1975) found that 6 of 8 students with moderate intellectual disabilities made significant improvement in three reading skills: (a) reading sounds, (b) blending sounds into words, and (c) word reading. Two additional studies found that phonic phon·ic
Of, relating to, or having the nature of sound, especially speech sounds.


pertaining to the voice.
 analysis paired with error correction helped this population decrease word recognition errors (J. Singh & Singh, 1985; N. N. Singh & Singh, 1988). Recently, Bradford, Shippen Ship´pen

n. 1. A stable; a cowhouse.
, Alberto, Houchins, and Flores Flores, town, Guatemala
Flores (flōrəs), town (1990 est. pop. 2,200), capital of Petén department, N Guatemala. Flores was built on an island in the southern part of Lake Petén Itzá and on the site of the
 (2006) successfully used the Corrective Reading Program (Engelmann, Becket beck·et  
n. Nautical
A device, such as a looped rope, hook and eye, strap, or grommet, used to hold or fasten loose ropes, spars, or oars in position.

[Origin unknown.]

Noun 1.
, Hanner,& Johnson, 1980) to teach decoding to middle school students with moderate intellectual disabilities.

A commonality in this research is that the students had the verbal skills to respond to instruction in the format typically used for phonics instruction. For example, they could articulate the initial consonant consonant

Any speech sound characterized by an articulation in which a closure or narrowing of the vocal tract completely or partially blocks the flow of air; also, any letter or symbol representing such a sound.
 sound or say a word by blending sounds. In contrast, many students with significant developmental disabilities are either nonverbal non·ver·bal  
1. Being other than verbal; not involving words: nonverbal communication.

2. Involving little use of language: a nonverbal intelligence test.
 or, even if verbal, utilize augmentative aug·men·ta·tive  
1. Having the ability or tendency to augment.

2. Grammar Indicating an increase in the size, force, or intensity of the meaning of an adjacent word, as up does in eat up.

 communication systems. Existing commercial programs do not provide guidance on how to adapt student responses for nonverbal learners. A second challenge is that this population often has language deficits that create a major challenge for deriving meaning from printed text. For example, they may have limited picture identification and poor listening comprehension. Although there are literacy programs developed for young children that promote language skills concurrently with skills such as phonemic awareness, these also lack guidance for nonverbal responders and those who need systematic prompting with multiple opportunities to respond to acquire new skills (e.g., Reading Mastery, Engelmann & Bruner, 2003; Early Reading Tutor, Gibbs, Miller, Helf, & Cooke, 2004).

This study developed and evaluated an early literacy program for students with significant disabilities--adapting strategies that have been found effective for the nondisabled population (Ball & Blachman, 1991; Treiman & Baron, 1983)--that would be responsive to these communication challenges and address some compelling questions of literacy instruction for this population. Specifically, the program would include the NRP (2000) components of reading and focus on the early literacy skills that build each of these components. In selecting instruments to measure change, it became apparent that most measures of early reading or early literacy also assume verbal ability. For this reason, our research also included the development of a standardized nonverbal assessment of early literacy. This report summarizes the findings and activities of the first year of a 5-year study on teaching reading to this population and focuses primarily on (a) the development of the curriculum, (b) the development and selection of appropriate measures, and (c) the comparative effects of the curriculum versus a traditional sight word approach. Future questions to be addressed over the course of this longitudinal study longitudinal study

a chronological study in epidemiology which attempts to establish a relationship between an antecedent cause and a subsequent effect. See also cohort study.
 are whether these skills, considered essential building blocks for typically developing readers and adapted for students with significant disabilities, will lead to fluent reading and, if so, how long students will need to learn to read.



Research suggests that children entering first grade with phonemic awareness skills will experience more success in learning to read than their peers who enter first grade with little or no phonemic awareness (e.g., Hiebert & Pearson, 2000; Lyon, 1998; Perfetti, Beck, Bell, & Hughes, 1987; Smith, Simmons & Kame'enui, 1998; Troia, 1999). In contrast, most students with significant developmental disabilities need instruction to develop phonemic awareness in the elementary grades. The curriculum developed for the current study was based on the premise that it is not too late to begin promoting phonemic awareness skills for these students ages 5 to 10, building a bridge to reading by late elementary school elementary school: see school. .

To develop the curriculum, we reviewed research on early literacy (e.g., Neuman & Dickinson, 2001; Smith et al., 1998); existing early literacy programs (e.g., Reading Mastery; Engelmann & Bruner, 2003; Language for Learning; Engelmann & Osburn, 1999); and early literacy assessments (e.g., Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, DIBELS DIBELS Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills ; Good & Kaminski, 2002; Test of Phonological Awareness Phonological awareness is the conscious sensitivity to the sound structure of language. It includes the ability to auditorily distinguish parts of speech, such as syllables and phonemes. , TOPA-2+; Torgesen & Bryant, 2004; Test of Early Reading Ability TERA-3; Reid, Hresko, & Hammill, 2001). From this review, we developed a tentative list of instructional objectives and methods and submitted it to a panel of experts who had published in one of the following areas: (a) early literacy for typically developing students, (b) direct instruction reading for students with high incidence disabilities, (c) reading for students with significant disabilities, and (d) augmentative communication.

In June 2005, a panel of national experts in augmentative communication, early literacy, direct instruction, and progress monitoring participated in a full-day discussion and provided subsequent written feedback on proposed and missing objectives and the planned instructional approach. In a revision of the curriculum, we incorporated their suggestions such as repeating skills across levels, adding the opportunity for writing, and including more print awareness Print awareness refers to a child's understanding of the nature and uses of print. A child's print awareness is closely associated with his or her word awareness or the ability to recognize words as distinct elements of oral and written communication. . The recommendation to try embedding 1. (mathematics) embedding - One instance of some mathematical object contained with in another instance, e.g. a group which is a subgroup.
2. (theory) embedding - (domain theory) A complete partial order F in [X -> Y] is an embedding if
 some of the skills in music was attempted, but proved not feasible. We did not have consensus for and did not incorporate some recommendations (e.g., whether concurrently teaching spelling and rhyming rhyme also rime  
1. Correspondence of terminal sounds of words or of lines of verse.

a. A poem or verse having a regular correspondence of sounds, especially at the ends of lines.

 was essential).

We developed the objectives into a scope and sequence chart with scripted lessons. The resulting curriculum, the Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB; Browder, Gibbs, Ahlgrim-Delzell, Courtade, & Lee, 2007), originally contained five levels with five lessons at each level. Each level introduced progressively more difficult skills. Some easier skills were replaced in higher levels by more difficult skills. For example, Level 4 fades out clapping out syllables in words and uses clapping out letter sounds. Individual lessons within a level were built around stories featuring a frog named "Moe" and offered students multiple opportunities to practice skills before moving on to more difficult ones.

Table 1 distills the specific ELSB objectives. ELSB begins with a sight word game based on a constant time delay strategy (Collins, 2007). In the first round, the teacher prompts the correct response by pointing to the word as it is presented (zero delay). The next round uses a 5-s delay. For motivation, the puppet puppet, human or animal figure, generally of a small size and performing on a miniature stage, manipulated by an unseen operator who usually speaks the dialogue.  Moe "helps" the students as needed as needed prn. See prn order.  (prompting the correct response). The teacher then reads brief stories about Moe. To build text awareness, students assist by finding the missing word for a sentence or pointing to text read by the teacher. These skills are taught using the system of least prompts, a method of instruction that has been effective in teaching a variety of skills to students with significant disabilities (Doyle, Wolery, Ault, & Gast, 1988). Using the Moe stories, ELSB also promotes comprehension and vocabulary development through teaching students to answer literal comprehension questions after listening to brief passages and to identify a variety of pictures that depict de·pict  
tr.v. de·pict·ed, de·pict·ing, de·picts
1. To represent in a picture or sculpture.

2. To represent in words; describe. See Synonyms at represent.
 the same spoken word (e.g., pictures of "happy").

Evidence suggests that phonemic awareness is strongly related to success in both reading and spelling (Ball & Blachman, 1991; Treiman & Baron, 1983); ELSB teaches students blending and segmenting skills using direct instruction strategies (Carnine, Silbert, Kame'enui, & Tarver, 2004). Although phonemic awareness can be taught without visual referent ref·er·ent  
A person or thing to which a linguistic expression refers.

Noun 1. referent - something referred to; the object of a reference
 through auditory auditory /au·di·to·ry/ (aw´di-tor?e)
1. aural or otic; pertaining to the ear.

2. pertaining to hearing.

 training, Hohn and Ehri (1983) found that kindergarten kindergarten [Ger.,=garden of children], system of preschool education. Friedrich Froebel designed (1837) the kindergarten to provide an educational situation less formal than that of the elementary school but one in which children's creative play instincts would be  students trained with letters learned to segment better than those who used blank counters or no visual referent. ELSB introduces letter sounds concurrently with printed letters by using pictures as referents for blending so that students who are nonverbal or who need visual support (e.g., some students with autism autism (ô`tĭzəm), developmental disability resulting from a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain. It is characterized by the abnormal development of communication skills, social skills, and reasoning. ) can demonstrate learning.

In our experience, we found many teachers of students with significant developmental disabilities had limited training in literacy so we decided to develop ELSB as a scripted curriculum. Each lesson's suggested teacher script includes suggestions for additional supports that can be used (e.g., ways to incorporate eye gazing, suggestions to enlarge TO ENLARGE. To extend; as, to enlarge a rule to plead, is to extend the time during which a defendant may plead. To enlarge, means also to set at liberty; as, the prisoner was enlarged on giving bail.  materials). Although the suggested text may be used verbatim ver·ba·tim  
Using exactly the same words; corresponding word for word: a verbatim report of the conversation.

, teachers also can alter the script to accommodate students' needs (e.g., if more prompting is needed). The Moe stories were designed for use on a story easel; the program includes student response cards for each objective, which also can be adapted for use with an eye gaze board or voice output communication device.


Nonverbal Literacy Assessment (NVLA NVLA National Vehicle Leasing Association
NVLA Napa Valley Language Academy (Napa, CA)
NVLA National Viewers' and Listeners' Association (UK) 
). Our exhaustive review of Mental Measurements Yearbook and Tests in Print did not reveal a general measure of literacy for students who are nonverbal. We designed NVLA as a standardized measure of literacy, knowing that many of the participants would not be able to respond to the standardized administration procedures of available literacy measures. We generated items for NVLA based on the five components of reading proposed by NRP (2000) and by reviewing how these skills were measured in available literacy measures using verbal responses (e.g., DIBELS; Good & Kaminski, 2002; TOPA-2+; Torgesen & Bryant, 2004; TERA-3; Reid et al., 2001). NVLA uses a receptive response format with answers provided in two- to four-choice arrays. Four selection responses can be used in the standard administration: (a) finger pointing with a response book, (b) eye gazing with responses affixed af·fix  
tr.v. af·fixed, af·fix·ing, af·fix·es
1. To secure to something; attach: affix a label to a package.

 to a Plexiglass board, (c) pulling the response from attached Velcro cards, or (d) pulling the response from a fan of responses displayed by the tester. Correct verbalized answers are also accepted.

NVLA has scripted administration directions and is administered in three sessions to accommodate for the attention difficulties and variability of responding frequently observed in this population. Administration time varies because of the nature of the students who may require nonverbal assessment. In this study, for students who used the finger pointing response, each session took approximately 20 min; for students using the eye gaze system, the administration time was longer because of the manipulation of the materials. NVLA consists of 221 items divided into two sections, the Conventions of Reading (CVR CVR

See contingent value right (CVR).
) and Phonemic pho·ne·mic  
1. Of or relating to phonemes.

2. Of or relating to phonemics.

3. Serving to distinguish phonemes or distinctive features.
 Skills (PhonSk). CVR includes 41 items with skills such as book orientation, text pointing, turning pages, completing repeated story lines, listening comprehension, prediction, sequencing, and identifying characters in the story. The PhonSk section includes 180 items with skills of word study (e.g., matching words, picture--word matching, sight words, and reading vocabulary); alphabetic principle and beginning phonics (e.g., letter matching and identification and letter sounds); breaking words into syllables and phonemic awareness (e.g., identifying first and last letters of words, identifying first and last sounds of words, and identifying words with same and different first and last sounds); and blending sounds to form words. This study used scores from the CVR, PhonSk, and a total score as dependent variables. We calculated a score for each section by summing the number of correct responses, and the total score by summing the scores of the two sections.

We conducted a test-retest study (with 2 weeks between administrations) to examine NVLA stability. The test-retest reliability coefficient for the total test score of the NVLA was .97 (p < .001). Alpha coefficients for CVR, PhonSk, and the total test were .798, .972, and .979, respectively. An observer recorded the demonstration of proper administration procedures and scored student responses to establish fidelity of administration and interrater reliability. Fidelity was calculated by an item-by-item agreement percentage. The mean fidelity of administration was 95.5%, with a range of 93.1% to 98.5%. Interrater reliability was high at .96.

A national panel of six experts in early literacy, severe disabilities, and assessment reviewed the assessment items to establish content validity content validity,
n the degree to which an experiment or measurement actually reflects the variable it has been designed to measure.
. The panel agreed that items reflected the range of early literacy skills. Suggestions included renaming sections to better reflect the construct, adding verbal response sections, adding additional items, ensuring systematic use of distractors, and establishing basal and ceilings. Another expert in literacy assisted in changing section names. We did not add verbal response sections given the availability of published assessments already accessible to students with verbal ability; NVLA was designed specifically for nonverbal responding. Use of distractors was applied in a systematic fashion from pictures/words pairs to words only and progressing difficulty of the distractor dis·trac·tor  
Variant of distracter.
 options from clearly wrong options (e.g., pictures/words of object options, when asked to identify characters in the story) to finer discriminations (e.g., words beginning with b, iv, and h, when asked to find the word that begins with the/dl sound). We intend to address the suggestions of adding items and establishing a basal and ceiling as work on the instrument progresses.

Early Literacy Skills Assessment (ELSA). We developed ELSA as pretest/posttest for the ELSB curriculum. It contains 152 items exactly matched to the skills taught in the experimental curriculum. Each of the nine sections of ELSA correspond to one of the nine objectives of the ELSA curriculum. We calculated a score for each section by summing the number of correct responses, and the total score by summing the scores of each section.

For this measure, we conducted studies of fidelity of administration, interrater reliability, test-retest reliability, and internal reliability in the same manner as for NVLA. Mean fidelity of administration was 96.6%, with a range of 91.2% to 98.9%; interrater reliability was 96.4%, with a range of 92.5% to 99.2%. Test-retest reliability coefficients ranged from .689 to .797 for the subtests with a mean of .763 for the total score. Internal reliability coefficients for the individual subtests ranged from .149 (4 items for literal questioning) to .980 and .896 for the total test.

Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III (PPVT-III). PPVT-III (Dunn & Dunn, 1997) is a standardized measure of receptive vocabulary for standard English with acceptable technical qualities. It allows students who are nonverbal to participate by pointing to a response and provides two equivalent forms and one total test raw score. The respondent points to a picture that best corresponds to a word orally given by the examiner. The total raw score is obtained by subtracting the number of errors from the numerical value of the ceiling item (i.e., highest word correctly identified). The raw score can be converted to a standard score, percentile rank, normal curve equivalent A normal curve equivalent (NCE), developed for the United States Department of Education by the RMC Research Corporation,[1][2] is a score received on a test based on the percentile rank. , or age equivalent.

PPVT-III technical adequacy is documented by the test publisher in the Examiner's Manual (Dunn & Dunn, 1997). For the ages included in this study, internal consistency In statistics and research, internal consistency is a measure based on the correlations between different items on the same test (or the same subscale on a larger test). It measures whether several items that propose to measure the same general construct produce similar scores. , as measured with coefficient alpha, ranged from .93 to .95. Split-half coefficients ranged from .86 to .95. Alternate forms reliability coefficients for raw scores ranged from .92 to .95, and corrected test-retest reliability coefficients ranged from .93 to .94 for the ages included in this study.

Evidence of validity of PPVT-III (Dunn & Dunn, 1997) scores is provided in the manual by correlating the scores with other measures of reading: the Oral and Written Language Scales (OWLS; Carrow-Woolfolk, 1995); the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-III (WISC-III WISC-III Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children, 3rd Edition ; Wechsler, 1991); the Kaufman Adolescence and Adult Intelligence Test (KAIT KAIT Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test ; Kaufman & Kaufman, 1993); and the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (K-BIT; Kaufman & Kaufman, 1990). PPVT-III had an average correlation of .70 with the OWLS Listening Comprehension scale, and .67 with the OWLS Oral Expression scale. Its correlations with measures of verbal ability were: .91 (WISC-III VIQ VIQ Verbal IQ
VIQ Volunteer and Information Quinte (Ontario, Canada)
VIQ Very Important Question
VIQ Vessel Inspection Questionnaire
VIQ Variation in Quantity
VIQ Virtualized Input Queue
VIQ Values Identification Questionnaire
), .87 (KAIT crystallized crys·tal·lize also crys·tal·ize  
v. crys·tal·lized also crys·tal·ized, crys·tal·liz·ing also crys·tal·iz·ing, crys·tal·liz·es also crys·tal·iz·es
 IQ), and .82 (K-BIT Vocabulary). The Technical References supplement (Pearson's Assessments, n.d.) compares PPVT-III scores of eight special populations (speech impaired; language delayed; language impaired; intellectual disabilities, child and adult; reading disabled; hearing impaired; and gifted) with demographically matched control matched study, matched control

a comparison between groups in which each subject animal is matched by a comparable animal in terms of age and all other measurable parameters. Called also matched or paired control.

Woodcock woodcock: see snipe.

Any of five species (family Scolopacidae) of plump, sharp-billed migratory birds of damp, dense woodlands in North America, Europe, and Asia.
 Language Proficiency Language proficiency or linguistic proficiency is the ability of an individual to speak or perform in an acquired language. As theories vary among pedagogues as to what constitutes proficiency[1], there is little consistency as to how different organisations  Battery (WLPB). The WLPB (Woodcock, 1991) comprises 13 subtests in the areas of oral language, reading, and written language. The manual indicates that this instrument may be used to "determine and describe the status of an individual's language" in these three areas (p. 5). Raw scores for each subtest can be converted to age/grade equivalents, W score, standard score, percentile rank, or Relative Mastery Index. Because of the verbal language requirement for responding to test items, we used raw scores for only two subtests in this study: Memory for Sentences and Letter--Word Identification.

Each subtest provides standardized administration procedures. In Memory for Sentences, the respondent is given words and phrases Words and Phrases®

A multivolume set of law books published by West Group containing thousands of judicial definitions of words and phrases, arranged alphabetically, from 1658 to the present.
 of increasing difficulty to repeat verbatim and receives a score of 0, 1, or 2 depending upon the accuracy of the oral repetition. We selected this subtest as a standardized measure of oral language. Letter--Word Identification, selected as a standardized reading measure, comprises three sets of responses. In the beginning items the respondent is to match one of three black-and-white rebus symbols to a larger, color picture of the intended object. Later, the respondent is asked to read individual letters and then words of increasing difficulty and receives a score of zero or 1 depending upon the accuracy of the response. The Examiner's Manual reports technical adequacy of the WLPB. Internal consistency for the subtests used in this study, as measured with coefficient alpha, ranges from .81 to .96 for ages 6 and 9. Test stability, measured by readministering the subtest to individuals 1 to 17 months between testing sessions, ranges from .78 and .94.

The manual reports evidence of validity by correlating the WLPB with other measures of reading (Peabody Individual Achievement Test, PIAT PIAT Peabody Individual Achievement Test
PIAT Projector Infantry Anti-Tank (British)
PIAT Pennsylvania Initiative on Assistive Technology
PIAT Putting It All Together
PIAT Public Information Assistance Team
PIAT perfect in all tests
; Dunn & Markwardt, 1970; Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children The Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC) is a clinical instrument for assessing cognitive development. Its construction incorporates several recent developments in both psychological theory and statistical methodology. , K-ABC; Kaufman & Kaufman, 1983; Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement, K-TEA; Kaufman & Kaufman, 1985; and Wide-Ranged Achievement Test-Revised, WRAT-R; Jastak & Wilkinson, 1984). Concurrent validities of basic reading skills for Grades 3 and 4 was .84 with the PIAT, .79 with the K-ABC, .82 with the K-TEA, and .85 with the WRAT-R Level 1. Construct validity construct validity,
n the degree to which an experimentally-determined definition matches the theoretical definition.
 is provided in the manual by examining subtest intercorrelations at selected ages and patterns of score differences for subjects from selected populations. Intercorrelations for the subtests used in this study for ages 6 and 9 ranged from .27 for passage comprehension and listening comprehension at age 6 and .33 for word-attack and listening comprehension at age 4, to .80 for both word attack and letter-word identification at age 3 and letter-word identification and passage comprehension at age 4. The manual also reports means and standard deviations of scores across four comparison groups of gifted, typically developing, learning disabled, and mentally retarded Noun 1. mentally retarded - people collectively who are mentally retarded; "he started a school for the retarded"
developmentally challenged, retarded
 for skill clusters.


This study utilized a randomized ran·dom·ize  
tr.v. ran·dom·ized, ran·dom·iz·ing, ran·dom·iz·es
To make random in arrangement, especially in order to control the variables in an experiment.
 control group design, randomly assigning students to either a treatment or control group. All participants were pretested at the beginning of the academic year before treatment was implemented and posttested at the end of the school year.

For Wikipedia's inclusion criteria, see: What Wikipedia is not.

Inclusion criteria are a set of conditions that must be met in order to participate in a clinical trial.

Seven self-nominated special education teachers in three disability areas (severe/profound intellectual disabilities, moderate intellectual disabilities, and autism) in a large urban school district in the southeast United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  volunteered to participate in the study. These seven teachers identified students they believed met the eligibility criteria: (a) IQ 55 or below with comparable deficits in adaptive behavior Adaptive behavior is a type of behavior that is used to adapt to another type of behavior or situation. This is often characterized by a kind of behavior that allows an individual to substitute an unconstructive or disruptive behavior to something more constructive.  (if no IQ score could be obtained, developmental screening reflected severe deficits in intellectual functioning); (b) enrolled in Grades K to 4; (c) reading below first-grade level; (d) adequate hearing and vision to respond to curricular materials and instruction; (e) responsive to ongoing instruction in English if a normative nor·ma·tive  
Of, relating to, or prescribing a norm or standard: normative grammar.

 English speaker; and (f) parental informed consent to participate in the research. From the initial pool of 35 teacher-nominated students, 24 met the criteria for inclusion in the study, but 1 only attended school a few days the first month and therefore was dropped from the study.


The 23 student participants were enrolled in Grades K to 4 and attended school in self-contained special education classrooms. IQ scores obtained for 19 of the 23 participants from school records were derived from a number of different psychological tests Psychological Tests Definition

Psychological tests are written, visual, or verbal evaluations administered to assess the cognitive and emotional functioning of children and adults.
, some of which only provided a mental age equivalent. In cases where a mental age equivalent was provided in place of an IQ score, we calculated a deviation IQ by dividing the mental age by the chronological age chron·o·log·i·cal age
n. Abbr. CA
The number of years a person has lived, used especially in psychometrics as a standard against which certain variables, such as behavior and intelligence, are measured.
 and then multiplying by 100. We recorded deviation IQs below 20 and reports containing notations of "IQ below 20" as "20" in the database. Therefore, the obtained mean IQ is somewhat less than the true mean IQ. The estimated mean IQ for the total group of students was 41 with a standard deviation of 12.67 and a range from less than 20 to 54. Six students were included in general education classes ranging from 30 min to 7 hr per week. All the participants had estimated intellectual disabilities in the moderate to severe/profound range, although many could not participate in traditional testing because of restricted verbal and behavioral repertoires. None of the students qualified for English as a second language instruction; 6 qualified for the school's free lunch program. Table 2 provides a description of student participants by group assignment. Chi-square analyses indicated no statistically significant differences (p > .05) between the control and treatment group for gender, ethnicity, verbal status, grade, lunch status, and classroom type; t-test analyses indicated no statistically significant differences (p > .05) between the control and treatment group for IQ and age. Comparison of group differences at pretest pre·test  
a. A preliminary test administered to determine a student's baseline knowledge or preparedness for an educational experience or course of study.

b. A test taken for practice.

 found no significant differences between the groups on any of the dependent variables.

The seven teachers who administered the control and treatment intervention were all self-contained, elementary school special education teachers with an average of 8.83 years teaching (8.67 teaching special education), range 1-19 years. One teacher taught general education for 1 year before teaching special education. Four teachers had bachelor's degrees and three had master's degrees. Five teachers had a regular special education teaching license and two had a provisional entry license. One teacher also had a general education teaching license. Six of the teachers were White and one was Hispanic.


To help control for a teacher effect, we selected half of the students in each classroom for the treatment group and the other half as the control group. Names of all the eligible students in each classroom were written on pieces of paper and placed into a box; without looking into the box the teachers pulled the predetermined pre·de·ter·mine  
v. pre·de·ter·mined, pre·de·ter·min·ing, pre·de·ter·mines
1. To determine, decide, or establish in advance:
 number (i.e., half) of the names from the box to form the treatment group within her own class. The remaining names in the box formed the control group. In the case of an uneven number of students in a classroom, the number of students in the disability group across classrooms (there were at least two classrooms per disability type) was used to divide the number of students in half. The teacher within the disability group with the smallest number of students randomly selected an extra student for the treatment group and the paired teacher of the same disability type with the larger number of students selected one less treatment student. This resulted in 12 students in each group at the initial selection. A student with absentee problems was dropped from the treatment group, leaving 11 treatment students.

This simple sampling method was feasible to the logistics of the applied context. Further matching by type of disability or level of functioning was not feasible given the small sample size. Because of the small sample sizes in each group, we conducted statistical tests for examining mean differences between the treatment and control groups on the pretest measures. Initial statistical analyses indicated that treatment and control groups were equivalent for all pretest measures. We present additional details of these analyses in the Results section.


The dependent variables in this study included the two measures we created, the NVLA and the ELSA. We also used two standardized language measures, the PPVT-III (Dunn & Dunn, 1997) and two subtests of the WLPB (i.e., Memory for Sentences and Letter Word Identification; Woodcock, 1991), following the standardized procedures. We used raw scores for all the measures in this study.


The independent variable in this study was the type of reading instruction. The classroom teachers conducted all reading instruction, after attending training workshops on implementation. Teachers also received ongoing classroom consultation to ensure ongoing procedural fidelity.

Shared Intervention. As noted earlier, students with significant developmental disabilities often receive minimal literacy instruction (Katims, 2000; Kliewer, 1998). To develop literacy, children need exposure to literature including both narrative and expository works (Morrow mor·row  
1. The following day: resolved to set out on the morrow.

2. The time immediately subsequent to a particular event.

3. Archaic The morning.
 & Gambrell, 2002). Children who are read to daily tend to score higher on measures of vocabulary, comprehension, and decoding (Bus, van Ijzendoorn, & Pellegrini, 1995; Senechal, Thomas, & Monker, 1995). The primary purpose of this read-aloud event is the construction of meaning from the interactive event between the adult and child (Vygotsky, 1978). Consistent exposure to read-alouds contributes to improved comprehension and vocabulary development (Vacca et al., 2006). Prior to introducing the experimental curriculum, we decided to ensure that all students in the study were receiving a foundational level of literacy instruction through shared stories that we called story-based lessons (SBL SBL Society of Biblical Literature
SBL Symbol Technologies, Inc. (NYSE symbol)
SBL Spamhaus Block List
SBL Space-Based Laser
SBL Securities Borrowing and Lending
SBL Supreme Beings of Leisure (band) 

Teachers selected grade-appropriate literature from a variety of means, including a list of recommended reading lists accompanying the Open Court reading program (Bereiter et al, 2000) used by the school district and suggestions from general education teachers. Selected books were adapted to accommodate student access as needed for physical challenges, text length, and pictures to support comprehension of text. We developed a 10-step task analysis of engaging students in the reading and comprehension of the book that included (a) anticipatory set, (b) opening the book, (c) turning pages, (d) identifying author and (e) title, (f) completing a repeated story line, (g) pointing to text, (h) answering a prediction question, (i) pointing to/saying vocabulary word, and (j) answering comprehension questions.

In the first full-day training event held in November, we demonstrated the steps of the task analysis; the teachers practiced it with each other until fluent. We described methods for adapting grade-appropriate literature and provided examples of different adaptations. Although teachers selected and adapted their own books for the shared stories, they received ongoing observations and feedback on their fidelity on following the task analysis to the shared story approach. We conducted a total of 55 SBL observations across the seven teachers. Teachers typically shared stories with their entire class, or a small group in the class, including students in both the experimental and control groups. Teachers conducted SBLs with the students throughout the school year, from early November to early June. We interviewed the teachers to ensure that both groups received comparable time in shared stories (daily except during special events). We provide additional information regarding time spent in SBL and teacher fidelity in the Results section.

Experimental Group: ELSB. The teachers received a scripted ELSB curriculum including teacher directions, student response materials, the story easel, and training on each objective of the curriculum in mid-October. We demonstrated following the script, prompting, and error correction procedures for each objective; teachers practiced each objective with each other until fluent during a second full-day training event. We conducted ongoing classroom observations using a task analysis of teacher and student behaviors for each objective and provided feedback on maintaining fidelity with the objectives. We conducted a total of 58 observations of the ELSB intervention across the seven teachers from October to May. Teachers implemented ELSB either 1:1 or in a small group of 2 to 4 students, depending on the number of students in their class randomly assigned to this intervention. Teachers could repeat each lesson on a 2-, 4-, or 10-day cycle depending on the pace of the group. Students did not move to the next level until they had 75% correct responding on the lessons in the prior level. This criterion was based on data taken by a member of the research team while the teacher implemented the lesson. If an individual student's performance was slower than a group, he or she received additional practice to catch up deficient de·fi·cient
1. Lacking an essential quality or element.

2. Inadequate in amount or degree; insufficient.


a state of being in deficit.
 skills or a separate lesson. Teachers delivered ELSB lessons to students throughout the school year, from mid-October to late May. We provide additional information regarding time spent in ELSB lessons and teacher fidelity of instruction in the Results section.

Control Group: Sight Words and Pictures. Students in the control group received sight word or picture instruction using Edmark, a commercial sight word curriculum (Austin & Boekman, 1990), or sight words and pictures that related to the students' needs and preferences. Edmark uses a whole-word approach to learning to read words, in software and print versions. Many of the teachers in the study had this program available in their classrooms prior to implementation of the intervention. In fact, in all cases the sight word and picture training implemented for the control students was an ongoing intervention prescribed by the students' individualized in·di·vid·u·al·ize  
tr.v. in·di·vid·u·al·ized, in·di·vid·u·al·iz·ing, in·di·vid·u·al·iz·es
1. To give individuality to.

2. To consider or treat individually; particularize.

 education programs. We tracked the amount of time these students spent in sight word training, but did not record the number and type of sight words and picture instruction received because of the variation across students. The sight word lessons also were implemented in either a 1:1 or small group format depending on the number of students assigned to this condition in the classroom.


We conducted a series of mixed analyses of variances (ANOVAs) with one between- and one within-subjects factor to determine differences between the treatment and control groups on the eight outcome measures. For all ANOVAs, the between-subjects factor consisted of the instructional type, treatment, and control interventions. The within-subjects factor consisted of the repeated measures obtained from participants across the school year. Because the primary purpose of this study was to examine a differential effect between the treatment and control groups, the statistical tests of interest were the interaction terms. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently
, we hypothesized that the students in the treatment group would have greater gains (i.e., greater mean differences from pretest to posttest post·test  
A test given after a lesson or a period of instruction to determine what the students have learned.
) than the gains of the control group, resulting in an interaction.

We did not conduct multivariate analyses because of insufficient sample sizes and did not attempt to adjust for conducting multiple univariate statistical tests. The statistical power based on the small sample sizes suggested that statistical significance would only be found for large effect sizes. Adjusting for multiple statistical tests using a Bonferroni correction In statistics, the Bonferroni correction states that if an experimenter is testing n independent hypotheses on a set of data, then the statistical significance level that should be used for each hypothesis separately is 1/n  would have decreased the statistical power to an unacceptable level. Because a priori a priori

In epistemology, knowledge that is independent of all particular experiences, as opposed to a posteriori (or empirical) knowledge, which derives from experience.
 hypotheses were stated, we conducted one-tailed statistical tests, which increased the statistical power. Because of the challenges in applying statistical tests to a low incidence population, including small sample size and large individual variance, more emphasis should be placed on interpreting the effect sizes.


All 11 students in the treatment group progressed through at least one level of the five-level curriculum by the end of the academic year; 6 students progressed to Level 2, 3 students progressed to Level 3, 1 student progressed to Level 4, and 1 student completed all five levels.

INSTRUCTIONAL TIME AND TREATMENT DIFFUSION diffusion, in chemistry, the spontaneous migration of substances from regions where their concentration is high to regions where their concentration is low. Diffusion is important in many life processes.  

Every 2 weeks, teachers reported the amount of instructional time and types of literacy skills included in the instruction for the preceding day (approximately 10 reports in total). Table 3 provides the mean and range minutes per day of literacy instruction for ELSB, SBL, sight word/picture instruction, phonics instruction, and other literacy instruction. The most common other literacy instruction was extra group instruction, focusing on days of the week and months of the year, weather words, and daily schedule words. Both treatment and control group participants received equal time in literacy instruction (approximately 1 hr per day). Because the Edmark or other sight word instruction was shorter than ELSB, to give control students comparable time in literacy instruction per day teachers augmented sight word drills with other types of literacy skill instruction. No control students received the ELSB, but one did inadvertently receive some exposure to a computerized phonics program. There were no significant differences between the groups in time spent in literacy instruction.


Both experimental and control groups received shared stories and the mean fidelity for following the prescribed template was 85% of the steps implemented with a range of 30% to 100% across 55 observations of all seven teachers (lower scores occurred early in intervention). A second observer concurrently and independently observed about a third of these lessons. The mean interrater reliability for the story fidelity measure was 94.9% with a range of 80% to 100%. The mean fidelity for ELSB was 93% with a range of 53% to 98% across 58 observations of all the teachers; interrater reliability for this fidelity was 93.5% with a range of 89% to 97%. Fidelity for the control group's sight words intervention was not feasible because of the diversity of methods the teachers employed. Instead, we focused on comparability of instructional time.

ANOVA anova

see analysis of variance.

ANOVA Analysis of variance, see there

Prior to running the ANOVAs, we examined the dependent variables for accuracy of data entry, outliers, missing values In statistics, missing values are a common occurrence. Several statistical methods have been developed to deal with this problem. Missing values mean that no data value is stored for the variable in the current observation. , normality normality, in chemistry: see concentration.  of distribution, and other assumptions. All values were within acceptable ranges, and the assumptions were tenable ten·a·ble  
1. Capable of being maintained in argument; rationally defensible: a tenable theory.

. The first series of ANOVAs examined the group interaction effects on the NVLA total score, CVR, PhonSk, and ELSA. Table 4 reports the means, standard deviations, and effect sizes for the control and treatment groups. The effect sizes were Cohen's d based on a pooled standard deviation Pooled standard deviation is a way to find a better estimate of the true standard deviation given several different samples taken in different circumstances where the mean may vary between samples but the true standard deviation (precision) is assumed to remain the same.  and indicate the magnitude of differences between the pretest and posttest for each group. There were large effect sizes for all the measures of the treatment group, ranging from 1.15 to 1.57. The effect sizes for the control group were small (.39) to moderate (.65) except for CVR, which was quite large, 1.24. This was not surprising, as both groups received the shared stories intervention.

Table 5 shows the results of the mixed ANOVAs. Box's tests of equality of covariance Covariance

A measure of the degree to which returns on two risky assets move in tandem. A positive covariance means that asset returns move together. A negative covariance means returns vary inversely.
 matrices were not significant for all analyses satisfying the assumption of equivalent covariance matrices. The statistical tests of interest to determine nonparallel control and treatment slopes are the interaction effects. Three of the four interaction effects (NVLA total score, PhonSk, and ELSA) were statistically significant; Figure 1 illustrates the interactions. For the three dependent variables with statistically significant interactions, the slope of the treatment group was steeper than the slope of the control group, suggesting greater growth on these measures.

The treatment group's effect sizes for PPVT-III and WLPB (see Table 4) were moderate for all measures, ranging from .46 to .66. The effect sizes of the control group ranged from extremely small (.02) to moderate (.41). Two of the four interaction effects (PPVT-III and WLPB Memory for Sentences; see Table 5 and Figure 2) were statistically significant. We found disordinal interactions for both PPVT-III and WLPB Memory for Sentences, with the treatment group having a lower pretest mean than the control group but obtaining a higher mean on the posttest for both significant interactions.



Although the "science of reading" provides important guidance for phonemic awareness and other early literacy skills that can build a bridge to reading, translating this instruction for students who are nonverbal or have limited language and who need intensive instruction to master new skills is a current challenge. The literature has well established the lack of focus on decoding (Browder et al., 2006; Joseph & Seery, 2004) and the lack of attention to literacy in general for this population (Kliewer, 1998; Kliewer, Biklen, & Kasa-Hendrickson, 2006). The first outcome of this study was the creation of an early literacy curriculum that could be used with students with significant disabilities and was acceptable to a panel of experts in severe disabilities, early literacy, direct instruction, and augmentative communication. Significant gains on the ELSA indicated that students who received the curriculum learned significantly more of the objectives than students who did not. Although not a surprising finding, this outcome was important for demonstrating that students receiving ELSB acquired new skills.

In addition, the students also made significant gains on the NVLA phonemic awareness section. This result suggests that the experimental curriculum promoted skills known to be bridges to early reading. It should be noted that this gain occurred despite the fact that nearly all students had mastered only one or two levels of the five-level curriculum in the first year. In contrast, one student with autism completed all levels of the curriculum, which then made him a candidate for kindergarten-level reading instruction in the second year. All other students were targeted for ongoing ELSB instruction in their second year. This outcome suggests that the path to reading may be possible for students with significant disabilities, but also may require more years of instruction. Additional research from the planned 5-year study will be critical to determine if these early gains do eventually produce fluent readers. This pace of skill acquisition also suggests that literacy instruction for this population needs to begin early and continue at least through the middle school years. In contrast, because of the significant developmental delay characteristic of this population, beginning this intensive instruction may not be feasible until the early elementary years for some students.


There were no statistically significant differences between the groups on the CVR, the assessment most closely aligned to the SBL intervention that both experimental and control students received. This could be interpreted to support the comparability of instruction the two groups received through the shared stories. Because this measure reflects students' developing listening comprehension, it may be important in future research to focus on this specific intervention itself. Browder et al.'s (2006) review of experimental studies on reading for this population found not one example of a literature-based reading intervention. In contrast, qualitative research by Skotko, Koppenhaver, and Erickson (2004) and Kliewer and Biklen (2001) found that social engagement with stories enhanced communication skills for this population. Future research might determine the effect of engaging students with significant developmental disabilities in the reading of stories on their communication and emergent literacy skills.

Groups also differed in their performance on the PPVT-III and WLPB Memory for Sentences subtest. There was no statistically significant difference between the groups on the WLPB Letter--Word Identification subtest. One aspect of ELSB is the presentation of multiple pictorial examples of a given concept/object. For example, three different photos/clip art of children at play (playing soccer, children on a slide, children running through a sprinkler) illustrate the concept of "play." Typical picture vocabulary instruction uses one picture to illustrate a communication need. Demonstration that concepts/objectives have multiple types of representation may have impacted the PPVT-III score. In the Memory for Sentences subtest, students are given a short phrase or sentence to repeat verbatim. Participants receiving the ELSB curriculum may have benefited from increased focus on or knowledge of sentence structure from the fill-in-the-blanks with the missing word Objectives 2 and 4.

Another important outcome of this study was the demonstration that this population could participate in a standardized assessment modified for nonverbal response. The use of standardized assessment for students with significant developmental disabilities is challenging because of the varied ways students need to demonstrate learning given their sensory and physical challenges. In this study we did not try to include students with hearing and vision impairments, although we did adapt response repertoires for students with significant physical, as well as intellectual, disabilities. It was especially encouraging that consistent responding could be established through eye gazing for some students. Placing the response options on the four corners of a piece of Plexiglass made it possible for students to turn their eyes and heads slightly to indicate a distinct response.


Conducting randomized trials research with a low incidence population presents substantial challenges. The potential advantage if these challenges can be surmounted sur·mount  
tr.v. sur·mount·ed, sur·mount·ing, sur·mounts
1. To overcome (an obstacle, for example); conquer.

2. To ascend to the top of; climb.

a. To place something above; top.
 is to provide strong evidence of intervention effectiveness. An alternative would be to use a series of single subject studies. However, most single subject studies have focused on one specific component of reading (like sight words or only initial consonant sounds), rather than the impact of a full curriculum. Although a group research design lends itself well to comparing two approaches to reading, application of inferential statistics inferential statistics

see inferential statistics.
 is difficult because of the small sample size. For example, differences may have existed among the subgroups in this study (e.g., students with autism vs. those with severe intellectual disabilities) but such differences could not be analyzed given the small sample. Multivariate statistics were also not comparable, introducing the possibility of Type I error. As noted earlier, effect sizes may be the most credible statistic statistic,
n a value or number that describes a series of quantitative observations or measures; a value calculated from a sample.


a numerical value calculated from a number of observations in order to summarize them.
 for making inferences about the impact of the intervention with this small sample.

A second limitation in the design was that our primary findings were based on instruments we developed. We addressed this threat to internal validity Internal validity is a form of experimental validity [1]. An experiment is said to possess internal validity if it properly demonstrates a causal relation between two variables [2] [3].  by providing some support for the reliability of the instruments and through the use of published instruments, which also indicated significant differences between the treatment and control group. Additional research is needed on the standardization and validity of the NVLA in particular, given the need for instruments that can be used to show gains for this population.


Although the outcomes of the study are encouraging that students with significant developmental disabilities can gain early literacy skills through intensive instruction, much more research is needed to determine if these skills will lead to learning to read and applying those skills to meaningful life contexts. Because experimental research that focuses on the NRP (2000) components of reading is new for this population, practitioners are left with many unanswered questions for planning literacy instruction. Until there is additional research to define evidence-based practice, the most logical approach may be to utilize and adapt strategies that have been found effective with students who are nondisabled. For example, research on shared stories (Bus et al., 1995; Senechal et al., 1995; Vacca et al., 2006) would support utilizing literature-based instruction. Sharing stories may build leisure enjoyment of books and promote language skills. Intensive instruction in phonemic awareness, decoding skills, and comprehension should also be carefully considered for elementary-age students with significant disabilities. Prior research has shown that students with moderate intellectual disabilities can gain phonics skills (Barudin & Hourcade, 1990; Bracey et al., 1975; Bradford et al., 2006; Hoogeyeen et al., 1989; Hoogeveen et al., 1987; Lane & Critchfield, 1998; J. Singh & Singh, 1985; N. N. Singh & Singh, 1988). Our research shows early promise that students with severe intellectual disabilities and autism also can acquire some phonemic awareness and phonics skills, which are strong predictors of learning to read (Ball & Blachman, 1991; Treiman & Baron, 1983). If this population is to have the opportunity to learn to read, they will need instruction that teaches them to decode (1) To convert coded data back into its original form. Contrast with encode.

(2) Same as decrypt. See cryptography.

(cryptography) decode - To apply decryption.
 and comprehend printed text.


Moving beyond sight words is a new venture in reading research for students with significant developmental disabilities. There is so much to discover that substantial energy and resources need to be invested to begin exploring this opportunity for this population. What will be important is to build on the science of reading that is already available. Until research indicates otherwise, the best starting point Noun 1. starting point - earliest limiting point
terminus a quo

commencement, get-go, offset, outset, showtime, starting time, beginning, start, kickoff, first - the time at which something is supposed to begin; "they got an early start"; "she knew from the
 will be in adapting interventions proven effective for typically developing students. This requires gaining deeper knowledge of this literature as well as knowing what has been effective in teaching reading to students with significant disabilities. Research is especially needed on comprehensive and longitudinal curricula that school systems can adapt and modify for this population. It will be difficult for teachers to piece together a reading program from studies that focus on only one component of reading. Research also is needed on measures that show gains relevant to reading, but that are not biased against students who are nonverbal or have sensory or physical impairments. Through such research more students with significant disabilities may gain the skills needed to become readers.

Manuscript received March 2007; accepted July 2007.


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See mental retardation.
, 90, 64-70.

Singh, N. N., & Singh, J. (1988). Increasing oral reading proficiency through overcorrection o·ver·cor·rec·tion
An adjustment that surpasses a set criterion, especially of a desired behavior.
 and phonic analysis. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 93, 312-319.

Skotko, B. G., Koppenhaver, D. A., & Erickson, K. A. (2004). Parent reading behaviors and communication outcomes in girls with Rett syndrome Rett syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is classified as a pervasive developmental disorder by the DSM-IV. Many [1] argue that this is a mis-classification just as it would be to include such disorders as fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, or Down . Exceptional Children, 70, 145-166.

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Act or process of knowing. Cognition includes every mental process that may be described as an experience of knowing (including perceiving, recognizing, conceiving, and reasoning), as distinguished from an experience of feeling or of willing.
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Troia, G. A. (1999). Phonological awareness intervention research: A critical review of the experimental methodology. Reading Research Quarterly, 34, 28-52.

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University of North Carolina North Carolina, state in the SE United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (E), South Carolina and Georgia (S), Tennessee (W), and Virginia (N). Facts and Figures

Area, 52,586 sq mi (136,198 sq km). Pop.
 at Charlotte


West Virginia University West Virginia University, mainly at Morgantown; coeducational; land-grant and state supported; est. and opened 1867 as an agricultural college, renamed 1868.  



University of North Carolina at Charlotte

DIANE M. BROWDER (CEC (Central Electronic Complex) The set of hardware that defines a mainframe, which includes the CPU(s), memory, channels, controllers and power supplies included in the box. Some CECs, such as IBM's Multiprise 2000 and 3000, include data storage devices as well.  NC Federation), Professor; and LYNN AHLGRIM-DELZELL (CEC NC Federation), Research Associate, Department of Special Education, University of North Carolina at Charlotte. GINEVRA COURTADE (CEC WV Federation), Assistant Professor, West Virginia University, Morgantown. SUSAN L. GIBBS (CEC NC Federation), Clinical Assistant Professor, Office of Field Experiences; and CLAUDIA FLOWERS, Professor, Educational Leadership, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

This article uses the term "intellectual disability" instead of the term "mental retardation"; the term "developmental disability" is used to refer to the broader population of individuals with both intellectual disabilities and autism. This article focuses on students with developmental disabilities at or below the moderate range of intellectual functioning. Support for this research was provided in part by Grant No. H324K040004 of the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, awarded to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Department of Education, and no official endorsement should be inferred.

Address correspondence to Diane Browder, Department of Special Education and Child Development, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Bird, Charlotte, NC 28223 (e-mail:
Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB) Objectives

                                       Difficulty        Method Used
                      Rationale      Across Lessons     to Teach the
Objective          (NRP Component)     and Levels         Objective

1. Read            Some words are    New words         Flash card
vocabulary         irregular and     introduced        drill with
sight words.       must be learned   across lessons    constant time
                   on sight;         and levels.       delay (one
                   students also                       round at zero
                   benefit from                        delay; one at
                   early word                          5 s).
                   mastery to
                   participate in
                   reading the

2. Point to        Students use      Students          System of
sight words        sight words       receive more      least prompts:
to complete        from Objective    distractors in    (a) wait for
sentences.         1 to fill in      answer choices    student to
                   the blank to      as levels         point without
                   promote           progress.         help; (b) model
                   comprehension/                      pointing and
                   meaning                             have student
                   of words.                           imitate; (c)
                   (Vocabulary)                        if needed,
                                                       guide to
                                                       point. (a)

3. Point to        Text pointing     Students          System of
words as teacher   promotes the      progress from     least prompts
reads them         concept of        pointing to a     (same as
aloud.             print: text       phrase, to a      above).
                   moves from left   sentence, to
                   to right and      moving down the
                   top to bottom;    page, to a
                   each printed      second line of
                   word can be       text as the
                   spoken. For       teacher reads.
                   non-verbal        In the upper
                   students it may   levels,
                   build toward      students point
                   the use of        to each word
                   technology        individually
                   support to        within the
                   read aloud.       sentence.
                   (Concept of

4. Point to or     Promotes          Placement of      System of
say a word to      concept of word   word in the       least prompts
fill in a          and listening     sentence varies   (same as
repeated story     comprehension     (last/middle      above).
line.              as student        word). At the
                   fills in          early levels,
                   missing word.     the missing
                   (Comprehension)   word is
                                     Words change
                                     across lessons
                                     and levels.

5. Respond to a    Builds            At first,         Scaffolding
question about     listening         respond to        (find answer
the story by       comprehension:    literal           in sentence),
selecting          As students       questions         system of least
correct picture    practice text     directly          prompts if
(later             pointing to       relating to the   needed.
lessons--correct   help "read" the   text; later,
word). May         story (see #3),   students are
answer verbally.   conveys the       asked harder
                   idea of reading   questions
                   comprehension.    (main idea,
                   (Comprehension)   sequencing)
                                     and draw
                                     students answer
                                     questions using
                                     words versus

6. Demonstrate     Segmenting is     Early lessons     Direct
understanding of   a critical        use one- and      instruction
segmentation by    component of      two-syllable      model/lead/test
clapping out       phonemic          words; words      strategy. If
syllables in       awareness;        increase to       incorrect
words.             teaches           four syllables    response,
                   distinguishing    and then CVC      teacher
7. Demonstrate     by auditory       words.            physically
understanding of   cues including                      guides the
segmentation by    rhythm and                          clapping.
tapping out        stress.                             "Clapping" is
phonemes in CVC    Auditorially                        adapted to
words.             segmenting                          student
                   sounds in words                     response
                   is the Primary                      ability (e.g.,
                   precursor in                        student with
                   learning to                         physical
                   read CVC words.                     challenges may
                   (Phonemic                           tap foot or
                   Awareness)                          hit side of

8. Identify        Students who      New letters       Easy-to-hard
letter-sound       are nonverbal     and sounds        discrimination
correspondence.    (and some with    introduced        with
                   autism) will      across lessons    increasingly
                   need a visual     and levels;       more difficult
                   referent to       distractors       distractors;
                   indicate letter   begin with        system of least
                   sounds. Use       non-letter        prompts used
                   of letters        options; later,   for incorrect
                   themselves        students choose   responses.
                   may be more       from multiple
                   efficient than    letters.
                   some other

9. Identify        Isolating         Sounds change     Direct
first and last     beginning         across letters    instruction
sounds in words.   sounds is a       and lessons;      model/lead/test
                   critical          consideration     strategy;
10. Find           phonemic          given to order    system of least
pictures that      awareness skill   of phonemes       prompts used
begin/end with     and a precursor   from easy to      for incorrect
specific sound.    to beginning      hard.             response; first
                   reading.                            and last sounds
                   (Phonemic                           highlighted.

11. Point to       Blending is       Sounds to be      Direct
letters in words   one of the        blended change    instruction
that have been     most difficult    over lessons      model/lead/test
segmented.         skills to         and levels        strategy;
                   translate for     concurrent        system of least
12. Point to       nonverbal         with those        prompts used
pictures that      students. Voice   introduced in     for incorrect
represent          output devices    Objective 8.      response.
segmented words.   do not require
                   the student to
                   think about
                   the blending
                   itself. If
                   students can
                   hear a
                   segmented word
                   and identify a
                   picture of the
                   word that was
                   said, this
                   blended the
                   Although more
                   difficult than
                   simple verbal
                   blending, it
                   students are
                   not just
                   "hitting a
                   switch" to say
                   a word.

13. Pointing to    Builds            First words are   System of
pictures of        conceptual        people; less      least prompts
spoken words.      understanding     concrete words    (same as
                   of vocabulary     are introduced    above).
                   by using a        including
                   variety of        feelings,
                   pictures for      places, and
                   the same spoken   actions; each
                   word.             level has a
                   (Vocabulary)      theme that is
                                     meaningful to
                                     (friends, pets,

Note. NRP = National Reading Panel, CVC = consonant-vowel-consonant.

(a) Students who respond using eye gazing (minimal or no use of hands
and arms) can be guided to correct answer by showing the correct
response with a stimulus prompt such as a light pointer or colored

Description of Treatment and Control Groups

                                           Control        Treatment

Characteristic                            N       %       N       %

Gender               Male                   6    50.0       7    63.6
                     Female                 6    50.0       4    36.4

Ethnicity            African American       6    50.0       6    54.5
                     Caucasian              4    33.3       4    36.4
                     Other                  2    16.7       1     9.1

Verbal status        Verbal                 5    41.7       6    54.5
                     Nonverbal              7    58.3       5    45.5

Class type           SAC                    6    50.0       6    54.5
                     Autism                 3    33.3       3    36.4
                     Severe/profound        2    16.7       2     9.1

Grade                K                      4    33.3       0     0
                     1                      6    50.0       4    36.4
                     2                      1     8.3       5    45.5
                     4                      1     8.3       2    18.2

Free/reduced lunch   None                   4    33.3       4    36.4
                     Reduced                0     0         0     0
                     Free                   3    25.0       3    27.3
                     Did not answer         5    41.7       4    36.4

                                        Mean    Range   Mean    Range

Age                                      8.75    8-10    9.36    9-11
IQ                                      37.55   18-54   36.50   20-50

Note. SAC = specialized academic curriculum for students with moderate
intellectual disability.

Minutes Spent in Types of Literacy Instruction Per Day

                                                  Sight Words/
                  ELSB              SBL             Pictures

Group          M       SD        M       SD        M       SD

Treatment    18.49    10.23     9.27    6.08     10.51    4.34
Control       0                11.62    6.60     16.15    14.28

                Phonics           Literacy         Total Mean

Group          M       SD        M       SD        M       SD

Treatment    4.25     6.96     13.71    7.33     56.23    16.38
Control      5.47     7.02     19.67    5.72     52.91    22.75

Note. ELSB = Early Literary Skills Builder, SBL = story-based

Means, Standard Deviations, and Cohen's d for Control and
Treatment Groups

                                Pretest        Posttest
Group                          M      SD       M      SD        d

NVLA Total
  Control                    40.92   30.94   63.58   39.13     .65
  Treatment                  36.27   21.42   72.55   37.92    1.22
  Control                     9.92    5.53   17.00    5.86    1.24
  Treatment                  11.82    4.40   19.00    4.77    1.57
  Control                    32.27   25.50   47.36   33.49     .51
  Treatment                  25.30   16.51   56.60   30.00    1.35
  Control                    40.33   35.40   54.08   35.73     .39
  Treatment                  42.64   30.80   79.00   32.69    1.15
  Control                    18.83   15.76   18.42   18.31     .02
  Treatment                  14.36   12.18   20.82   15.76     .46
WLPB Total
  Control                    12.58   13.50   15.58   17.92     .19
  Treatment                  12.00   12.30   21.45   16.30     .66
Memory for Sentences
  Control                     9.83   11.67    9.83   12.80    <.01
  Treatment                   7.73    9.14   14.18   10.70     .65
Letter-Word Identification
  Control                     1.83    2.98    3.42    4.80     .41
  Treatment                   3.18    4.35    5.55    5.54     .48

Note. NVLA = Nonverbal Literacy Assessment, CVR = Conventions of
Reading section, PhonSk = Phonics and Phonemic Awareness section,
ELSA = Early Literary Skills Assessment of the Early Literacy Skills
Builder curriculum, PPVT-III = Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III,
WLPB = Woodcock Language Proficiency Battery.

Results of Repeated ANOVA Measures

Outcome                           Effect      F-Ratio    [[eta].sup.2]

NVLA               Within-Ss    Pre/post      40.47 **        .66
                                Interaction    3.47 *         .14
                   Between-Ss   Instruction     .21           .01

CVR                Within-Ss    Pre/post      24.82 **        .54
                                Interaction     .01          <.01
                   Between-Ss   Instruction    1.01           .05

PhonSk             Within-Ss    Pre/post      32.83 **        .63
                                Interaction    5.57 **        .23
                   Between-Ss   Instruction     .22           .01

ELSA               Within-Ss    Pre/post      17.42 **        .45
                                Interaction    3.56 *         .15
                   Between-Ss   Instruction    1.14           .05

PPVT               Within-Ss    Pre/post       2.80           .12
                                Interaction    3.63 *         .15
                   Between-Ss   Instruction     .03          -.01

WLPB Total         Within-Ss    Pre/post       8.23 **        .28
                                Interaction    2.21           .10
                   Between-Ss   Instruction     .20           .01

Memory for         Within-Ss    Pre/post       4.59 *         .18
  Sentences                     Interaction    4.59 *         .18
                   Between-Ss   Instruction     .06          <.01

Letter-Word        Within-Ss    Pre/post       8.25 **        .28
  Identification                Interaction     .32           .02
                   Between-Ss   Instruction     .99           .04

Note. NVLA = Nonverbal Literacy Assessment, CVR = Conventions of
Reading section, PhonSk = Phonics and Phonemic Awareness section,
ELSA = Early Literacy Skills Assessment of the Early Literacy Skills
Builder curriculum, PPVT III = Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III,
WLPB = Woodcock Language Proficiency Battery.

* p < .05; ** p < .01. Degrees of freedom for all tests of
significance was 1, 21.
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Author:Browder, Diane M.; Ahlgrim-delzell, Lynn; Courtade, Ginevra; Gibbs, Susan L.; Flowers, Claudia
Publication:Exceptional Children
Article Type:Report
Date:Sep 22, 2008
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