Examining the Effect of an Overt Transition Intervention on the Reading Development of At-Risk English-Language Learners in First Grade
Burns, Darci A., 1967-
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Burns, Darci A., 1967-
Although there is arguably substantial evidence in the literature on what works for students at risk of reading failure, the evidence on effective interventions for English-language learners (ELs) is rather meager. Moreover, there are limited curriculum programs and instructional materials available to support schools in the inclusion of ELs in reading-reform efforts. This study examined the efficacy of a systematic transition intervention designed to increase the early literacy achievement of Spanish-speaking ELs in transitional bilingual programs. The intervention included a set of 12 scripted transition lessons that made explicit for ELs the orthographic, lexical, and syntactic differences between Spanish and English. In addition, the lessons addressed the story content knowledge and vocabulary and academic language necessary to ensure that ELs could access the English literacy curriculum and classroom discourse. Seventy-eight first-grade ELs identified as at risk for reading difficulty were randomly assigned to receive either the transition lessons in the treatment condition or the standard school-based intervention in the control condition. Students in both conditions received 60 thirty-minute sessions of small-group instruction as a supplement to their first-grade core reading program. Instruction in both conditions was explicit and focused on the core reading components (i.e., phonemic awareness, phonics, word work, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension). Student performance was measured on the following dimensions of early reading: (a) phonemic decoding and word reading, (b) oral reading fluency, (c) vocabulary development, and (d) comprehension. In addition, fidelity of implementation, time devoted to the different literacy components, and feasibility of implementation data were collected during and after the study. A gain-score analysis was employed in this study to compare the effect of the treatment (transition lessons) and control (standard school-based intervention) conditions on scores obtained from the pretest and posttest measures of reading achievement. The results indicated that the difference in gain scores between the treatment and control conditions was not statistically significant on any of the measures utilized in the study. Therefore, the transition intervention did not appear to be more effective than the typical school-based intervention. Findings are discussed in light of current research on improving the academic performance of ELs.