The REDY, Set, Start: School Readiness for All! study attempts to improve school readiness for pre-kindergarten students in North Carolina by nurturing oral language development in early childhood programs. This study was designed to address the achievement gap in gifted education among underrepresented students with a special emphasis on low-income and at-risk children. There are five areas of children’s development that contribute to school readiness including health and physical development, social development, approaches toward learning, general knowledge and math development, and language development and communication. This presentation will specifically focus on the area of language development and communication. In North Carolina, the language and communication skills of children from lower-income families can be up to one full year behind those of children from higher-income families, resulting in many children starting kindergarten already behind their peers. Five treatment and four control classrooms located in elementary schools in Greensboro, North Carolina participated in the study. Students in the treatment classrooms received instruction and resources to strengthen oral language development, while the control classrooms remained unchanged. One hundred sixty-two students were assessed using the Preschool Early Literacy Indicators. The students in the treatment group demonstrated higher mean comprehension scores compared to the control group (17.5 vs 11.5, respectively, p=0.003), higher mean oral language scores compared to the control group (18 vs 13.5, respectively, p=0.042), and higher oral language and comprehension scores combined compared to the control group (35.5 vs 25, respectively, p=0.007). These data indicate that the study improved comprehension and sentence construction scores and suggest that early language intervention may foster the development of school readiness for all children.
Jennifer Wellberg, Duke University, United States