Early Reading First Program is Off to a Successful Start
Last fall, RCOE was awarded a $3.3 million federal Early Reading First (ERF) grant to address literacy development at our Arlanza, Bryant Park, Collett, and Rosemary Kennedy Head Start Centers in the Riverside area. The goal of the ERF program is to develop children’s speaking and writing skills to prepare preschoolers for Kindergarten.
Riverside County’s children are performing better than children in other ERF programs across the country. When compared with most other ERF programs nationwide, RCOE is serving twice as many children; 216 children served through our RCOE program as compared to an average of about 100 children in other programs. Our other distinction is that over two-thirds of the children in our program are second language learners, a much higher population than most other ERF programs.
Preliminary assessment results for the first year of implementation show that all children enrolled at these centers have made significant gains in vocabulary and letter-recognition. In the area of oral language as measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test IV (PPVT-IV), RCOE preschoolers increased their skill level by 9 standard scores from a beginning level of 78 to over 87, and RCOE preschoolers scored higher than other more established ERF programs across the country on vocabulary. Moreover, on the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) for letter recognition, children increased 16 letters. There was an unusual trend with the letter recognition: RCOE children were able to identify more lower case than upper case letters, a trend much different than other ERF programs. Overall, children were able to identify 18 upper case and 19 lower case letters. Letter recognition is a strong predictor of success in Kindergarten. Our motto for next year is 26!
The assessment results reflect about six months of intentional literacy teaching and learning since the pre-tests were administered in November and the post-tests in May. It appears that we have exceeded all the established federal benchmarks. Congratulations to the ERF children for their amazing success.