Evaluating Which Classroom and Student Variables in an Early Childhood Program Best Predict Student Language and Literacy Achievement

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Carlis, Lydia Janeva
Silverman, Rebecca D
Sufficient evidence exists that early intervention for students at-risk of school failure may prevent reading difficulties. In addition, research has identified several teacher, classroom, and student variables that correlate with students' academic progress in language and literacy domains. This research aimed to expand on existing research by analyzing the relationships between teacher and peer characteristics and language and literacy achievement, and change in achievement, for 431 three and four-year old children attending three Early Reading First funded public charter school programs in 29 Washington, DC classrooms. Four research questions were posed to answer the following: What are the peer and teacher variables that predict achievement, or change in achievement, on norm- or criterion-referenced language and literacy measures for children enrolled in a federally supported universal preschool program? Two-level hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was conducted with students nested in classrooms. Results from the HLM indicate that peer and teacher characteristics helped predict three and four-year olds' achievement on nationally normed standardized language and literacy assessments. Peer and teacher characteristics also predicted achievement and change in achievement on curriculum-based measures of language and literacy development. These findings expand the research on teacher and peer characteristics predictive of student language and literacy achievement. Implications from these findings, strengths and limitations of this dissertation research, and future research directions are discussed.