Preschool and the Literacy Achievement Gap in one Rural School Division in Virginia

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Virginia Tech


As the number of public school students identified as living in poverty increases, so does the number of children entering kindergarten with inadequate pre-literacy skills. This lack of preparation creates a gap in literacy achievement that is persistent and grows throughout a child's K-12 experience. One rural Virginia school division has begun offering a full-day prekindergarten program for the most at-risk three year-old children. The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of the three year-old preschool program in this one rural school division in eastern Virginia. This study examined the literacy achievement data for the first five cohorts of these students, and determined what difference, if any, exists in achievement as measured by the Virginia Phonemic Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS), the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI), Get Ready to Read" Revised (GRTR-R) and teacher-generated student growth assessments. A two-tailed t-test was used to identify potential differences in mean scores on the appropriate achievement measures between those students who received the three year-old preschool intervention and those that did not. For each of the first five cohorts of students, no significant difference was identified in literacy achievement on the four assessments administered where such difference may be assumed to occur, indicating that early intervention may make a difference in closing the literacy achievement gap for students in poverty.



preschool, literacy, poverty