Literacy Links 1st Trial: Summary

UROK Literacy Links Program

Summary of Data

Introduction

The Literacy Links program is a reading intervention program developed by an educational team at Calgary Academy.  It is a systematic and explicit program designed to assist students who are struggling with reading.  This program emphasizes several factors that address Adams’ Four Processor Model.  In addition, research has consistently shown that students who have well-developed phonemic awareness are better readers than those who do not, therefore the program is embedded with a phonological structure.   It also utilizes different modalities for teaching and learning, including tactile, visual, and auditory methods.  The instruction is provided on a 1:1 basis and the lessons are consistent and include repetition and structure to enable the student to focus on the new content presented every day instead of the methods being used.

Methods

Seventy-two students completed the 30-hour Literacy Links program at the UROK Learning Institute.  Each student is scheduled to complete the program over a three-week period.  They attend 1:1 classes two hours per day and five days per week.  With school holidays, illnesses, and family schedules there were some minor alterations to this schedule.  In addition, for some students it took time to build a comfort level with the program and instruction was slowed at the beginning and up to five days were added on to the end of the program.  To be included in this study a student completed from 30 to 40 hours of instruction.

Of the 78 participants, 50 were male and 28 were female.  They ranged in age from 65 to 5-years-old and ranged in grade from kindergarten to 8th grades.  There were also six adults who participated in the program, however their circumstances were so different than the school-aged students they were not included in the study.  The majority of the 72 students, (42) were in 1st or 2nd or 3rdgrade, however the others were distributed equally among the grades.

Students were assessed using selected subtests of the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test – Second Edition (Word Reading, Pseudoword Decoding, Reading Comprehension, and Spelling) and the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (C-TOPP) both before and after completing the Literacy Links program.  Students were considered good candidates for the Literacy Links program if they showed weaknesses on the Word Reading and Pseudoword Decoding subtests of the WIAT-II.  In addition, students were included if they also exhibited a weakness on at least one factor of the C-TOPP (Phonological Awareness, Alternate Phonological Awareness, Rapid Naming, and Phonological Memory Composite scores).

Results

After completing the program students made significant gains in the WIAT-II targeted areas of Word Reading (p<.001) and Pseudoword Decoding (p<.001) when comparing both the grade level increase and the standard score increase from before to after completing the Literacy Links program.  The average grade level improvement for Word Reading was .52 and Pseudoword Decoding was 1.15 after participating in the 3-week program (see graph 1).   The standard score gains students made after completing the program were also significant with students increasing their score an average of 4.40 points on Word Reading (p<.001) and 7.45 on Pseudoword Decoding (p<.001).

Significant increases were also identified with the WIAT-II Reading Comprehension (p<.001) and Spelling (p<.001) subtests.  While these areas were not directly addressed with the Literacy Links program, it appears that the skills the students learned in the program transferred to reading comprehension and spelling.   The average grade level improvement on these subtests was 1.33 on Reading Comprehension and .50 on Spelling.  The standard score gains students made after completing the program were also significant with students increasing their score an average of 8.07 points on Reading Comprehension (p<.001) and 3.72 on Spelling (p<.001).

Average Grade Level Improvement

WIAT-II

(n=46)

Grade Level 2
Increase 1.5
1 1.15
0.5 0.52   1.33 0.5
0
Word Reading Pseudoword
Decoding
Reading
Comprehension
Spelling
Grade Level       4
Increase 3.5
3 2.93
2.5 2.41     3.01
2
1.5 1.86
1
Word Reading
Pre
Word Reading
Post
Pseudoword
Decoding Pre
Pseudoword
Decoding Post

Students also showed significant improvements on the C-TOPP on 8 of the 12 subtests.  However, at this point it is difficult to assess the meaning of these results.  Each student who was assessed exhibited different strengths and weaknesses on this test.  Therefore, the identified areas of improvement are likely to be different for each child.  At this point there are not enough children who had identified weaknesses in the same areas to analyze the data in a meaningful way.

Overall, the results of this study indicate that Literacy Links is a very effective way to improve the reading skills of students who are struggling with reading decoding.  Students averaged a half of grade level increase in Word Reading and Spelling and a full grade level increase in Pseudoword Decoding and Reading Comprehension after completing the three-week Literacy Links program.  Those gains are particularly significant in light of the fact that the program only lasts three weeks.