Program

Jul 25, 2007

OVERVIEW

Sound Foundations is a literacy curriculum for pre-school
children. The program focuses on teaching children to identify key
phonemes, or word sounds. In a random assignment study, children assigned
to receive this curriculum were found to be significantly better at recognizing
phonemes than were children assigned to a control group. These children
also scored significantly better on a test on which they were asked to identify
the proper verbalization of written words.

In another study, classes were randomly assigned to receive
either no intervention or the Sound Foundations curriculum in conjunction with
the dialogic reading program.
Compared with students who received no intervention, students who received the
combined intervention scored significantly higher on several measures of
emergent literacy both at the end of the intervention and one year later, at
the end of kindergarten. Intervention students did not score
significantly higher on measures of literacy skills at the end of 1st
and 2nd grades, however.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Pre-literate children

The Sound Foundations curriculum is designed to promote
phonological awareness in pre-literate children. The ability to identify
phonemes (e.g. the ability to recognize that sun and sail start
with the same sound and that broom and drum end with the same
sound) is related to the acquisition of reading skills.

The curriculum focuses on nine key phonemes, introducing
students to one sound at a time. Students are exposed to posters that
display items that begin or end with the focus sound. Students also
complete activities and play games that involve identifying objects that begin
or end with the focus sound.

(Dialogic reading, which was partnered with Sound
Foundations in one of the studies evaluated here, is an interactive method of
reading picture books with children. Please refer to the
LINKS write-up of dialogic reading for more
information on this intervention.)

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Byrne, B. & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1991).
Evaluation of a Program to Teach Phonemic Awareness to Young Children. Journal
of Educational Psychology, 83
(4), 451-455.

Evaluated population: 126 children from four
pre-schools in New South Wales, Australia
constituted the study sample for this investigation. The children were,
on average, 55 months old at the commencement of the study.

Approach: At baseline, children’s verbal facility was
assessed using the Revised Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test. Children were
also tested on their knowledge of letter names, their rhyme recognition, and
their ability to identify words with the same beginning and ending sounds
(phonemes).

Children were randomly assigned to a treatment group and a
control group. Children in the treatment group were trained in subgroups
of 4-6 students, for 25-30 minutes a week, for 11 successive weeks. Only
a subset of the Sound Foundations focus sounds was taught, due to time
constraints. Children in the control group also trained in groups of 4-6
students, for 25-30 minutes a week, but these children received training on
semantics. These children received no phoneme training.

Following the 11-week intervention, children were
re-assessed on their ability to identify phonemes. They were assessed
both on sounds they had learned during the Sound Foundations intervention and
on sounds they had not learned. Additionally, the children took a new
test that presented them with written words and two possible verbal utterances
of each word. Children were then asked to identify which utterance
corresponded with the written word before them.

Results: At post-test, compared with control
children, treatment children made significantly greater improvements in phoneme
recognition. Improvement on learned sounds was greater than was
improvement on unlearned sounds; however, the treatment group outperformed the
control group on both trained and untrained sounds. Treatment children
also performed significantly better on the test of matching written words to
verbal utterances.

Whitehurst, G.J., Zevenbergen, A.A., Crone, D.A.,
Schultz, M.D., Velting, O.N., & Fischel, J.E. (1999). Outcomes
of an Emergent Literacy Intervention From Head Start Through Second
Grade. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91(2), 261-272.

Evaluated population: A total of 127 children attending Head
Start in 1992 (cohort 1) and 153 children attending Head Start in 1993 (cohort
2) served as the study sample for this investigation. Children were
recruited from eight Head Start centers in
Suffolk County, New York
and came from 37 different Head Start classes. 43% of the children were
African American, 33% were European American, 18% were Latino, and 6% were of
other ethnic background. 35% of the children lived in single parent
homes, and only 5% of the children had a primary caretaker who had completed
college.

Approach: All children were pre-tested at their Head
Start Centers on measures of receptive vocabulary and emergent literacy skills.

Classrooms were randomly assigned to a treatment condition
or to a control condition.

Treatment classrooms taught the Sound Foundations curriculum
for five months. Treatment classrooms also engaged in small-group
dialogic reading three to five times a week. The parents of children in
treatment classrooms were provided with books to read at home with their
children as well. All parents and teachers were trained in dialogic
reading using a videotape and role-plays. (Please refer to the LINKS
write-up of dialogic reading write-up for more information on this
program.)

Immediately following the intervention, at the end of Head
Start, all children were tested on measures of receptive vocabulary, emergent
literacy skills, and expressive vocabulary. Children were re-assessed on
these measures one year later, at the end of kindergarten. At the end of
first grade and second grade, children were tested on their ability to match
printed words with pictures and on their ability to sound out printed
pseudo-words.

Results: At post-test, compared with children from
control classrooms, children from treatment classrooms did significantly better
on measures of writing skills, print concepts, and letter memory and marginally
better on measures of auditory skills and expressive vocabulary. At the
one-year follow-up, treatment children scored significantly higher than control
children on all measures except print concepts. No differences were found
across the two cohorts.

251 of the original 280 students were available for two- and
three-year follow-up analyses. The control group and treatment group
remained closely balanced on pre-test measures despite attrition,
however. At the end of 1st grade and 2nd grade,
students from treatment classes did not differ significantly from students from
control classes on any of the measures of literacy skills.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Curriculum materials available for purchase at:

http://www.onestopenglish.com/

References:

Byrne, B. & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1991).
Evaluation of a Program to Teach Phonemic Awareness to Young Children. Journal
of Educational Psychology, 83
(4), 451-455.

Whitehurst, G.J., Zevenbergen, A.A., Crone, D.A., Schultz,
M.D., Velting, O.N., & Fischel, J.E. (1999). Outcomes of an
Emergent Literacy Intervention From Head Start Through Second Grade. Journal
of Educational Psychology, 91
(2), 261-272.

KEYWORDS: Early Childhood (0-5), Children, Preschool, Kindergarten,
School-Based, Tutoring, Skills Training, Education, Academic Achievement,
Literacy, African American or Black, Hispanic or Latino, Caucasian or White.

Program information last updated on 7/25/07.