Stepping Stones to Literacy

Study: Nelson, Benner, & Gonzalez (2005)

Nelson, J. R., Benner, G. J., & Gonzalez, J. (2005). An investigation of the effects of a prereading intervention on the early literacy skills of children at risk of emotional disturbance and reading problems. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Descriptive Information Usage Acquisition and Cost Program Specifications and Requirements Training

Stepping Stones to Literacy is a scientifically based early literacy intervention. The program includes the critical properties of effective early literacy interventions identified by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's (NICHD) National Reading Panel. Stepping Stones helps children to master five pivotal early literacy skill sets to ensure that they benefit from beginning reading instruction. The five pivotal early literacy skills and associated activities include:

  1. Listening
  2. Conventions
  3. Phonological awareness
  4. Phonemic awareness
  5. Serial processing

During a typical daily lesson, children are guided through a set of instructional activities designed to promote the five pivotal early literacy skills as listed above. The instructional format is held constant over the course of the 25 lessons and includes a nursery rhyme to introduce each lesson and 4–6 short activities. The activities are presented in a model-lead-test format, which ensures mastery and on-going progress monitoring.

Stepping Stones to Literacy is intended for use in Kindergarten and first grade. It is designed for use with students with learning disabilities, English language learners, and any student at risk of academic failure. The academic area of focus is reading phonics/word study and serial processing and listening.

Based on an analysis of purchased items, Stepping Stones has been implemented in approximately 1,000 locations since 2004. States with the highest levels of implementation include: Nebraska, Arizona, Texas, Alabama and Illinois. Some of the larger implementations are in Omaha Public Schools (NE), Tempe School District #3 (AZ), Mission (TX), and Dothan City BOE (AL).

Where to obtain: 
Cambium Learning Sopris
4093 Specialty Place
Longmont, CO 80504
Phone: 800-547-6747

 

Cost: Initial cost per student for implementing program: 5 Students/1 Teacher: $49.70/student (Cost includes all student and teacher materials)

Replacement cost per student for subsequent use: $0.00

Stepping Stones is sold as a Literacy Set. Each set comprises an Instructor’s Manual and Lesson Book. There are no on-going purchases needed to sustain the implementation.

For the most up-to-date pricing, please visit our webstore: http://store.cambiumlearning.com/.

Stepping Stones to Literacy is designed for use with small groups of two to five students.

Stepping Stones to Literacy takes 20 minutes per session with a recommended five sessions per week for 10 weeks.

The program includes a highly specified teacher’s manual. No special technology is required.

 

Training is not required. Training can be provided at the request of the school district.

Instructors must be professionals. There are no specific training materials for this product—strong professional development, support, and guidance is included in the teacher materials.

Professional development may be provided at the request of the school district

 

 

Participants: Convincing Evidence

Sample size: 36 students in kindergarten in seven schools (18 students in the treatment group and 18 students in the control group)

Risk Status: A three-step screening process was used to identify participants. The first two steps included the first and second gates of the Early Screening Project (ESP) to identify students at risk for ED. The remaining step involved the administration of DIBELS Letter Naming (LNF) and Phoneme Segmentation Fluency (PSF) probes to identify children at-risk for reading problems. The norm referenced measure directly linked to the intervention is the CTOPP PA. The group (entire sample) pre-test average on the CTOPP PA is equal to the 25th (standard score at pre-test = 90) percentile. The DIBELS measures at pretest for the treatment group have the following winter percentile ranks:

DIBELS ISF: Mean 9.6; Percentile Rank 16th

DIBELS PSF: Mean 4.4; Percentile Rank 14th

DIBELS NWF: Mean 2.1; Percentile Rank 14th

Demographics:

 

Program

Control

p of chi square

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Grade level

  Kindergarten

 18

100% 

18 

100% 

 

  Grade 1

 

 

 

 

 

  Grade 2

 

 

 

 

 

  Grade 3

 

 

 

 

 

  Grade 4

 

 

 

 

 

  Grade 5

 

 

 

 

 

  Grade 6

 

 

 

 

 

  Grade 7

 

 

 

 

 

  Grade 8

 

 

 

 

 

  Grade 9

 

 

 

 

 

  Grade 10

 

 

 

 

 

  Grade 11

 

 

 

 

 

  Grade 12

 

 

 

 

 

Race-ethnicity

  African-American

6

33%

4

22%

 

  American Indian

 

 

 

 

 

  Asian/Pacific Islander

0

0%

1

6%

 

  Hispanic

2

11%

1

6%

 

  White

10

56%

12

66%

 

  Other

 

 

 

 

 

Socioeconomic status

  Subsidized lunch

11

61%

8

44%

 

  No subsidized lunch

7

39%

10

56%

 

Disability status

  Speech-language impairments

 

 

 

 

 

  Learning disabilities

 

 

 

 

 

  Behavior disorders

 

 

 

 

 

  Intellectual disabilities

 

 

 

 

 

  Other

 

 

 

 

 

  Not identified with a disability

 

 

 

 

 

ELL status

  English language learner

1

6%

1

6%

 

  Not English language learner

17

94%

17

94%

 

Gender

Female

1

6%

1

6%

 

Male

17

94%

17

94%

 

Training of Instructors: Stepping Stones instruction was provided by trained paraprofessional level tutors. First, tutors were provided the theory and rationale for Stepping Stones. Second, each of the instructional activities were described and modeled for the tutors. Third, tutors then practiced each of the instructional activities with each other. Tutors were provided corrective feedback while they were practicing the instructional activities. Fourth, tutors were observed delivering three complete lessons selected randomly. Finally, following training, tutors were observed and provided corrective feedback if necessary during tutoring of the first five lessons.

Design: Convincing Evidence

Did the study use random assignment?: Yes.

If not, was it a tenable quasi-experiment?: Not applicable.

If the study used random assignment, at pretreatment, were the program and control groups not statistically significantly different and had a mean standardized difference that fell within 0.25 SD on measures used as covariates or on pretest measures also used as outcomes?: Yes.

If not, at pretreatment, were the program and control groups not statistically significantly different and had a mean standardized difference that fell within 0.25 SD on measures central to the study (i.e., pretest measures also used as outcomes), and outcomes were analyzed to adjust for pretreatment differences?: Not applicable.

Were the program and control groups demographically comparable at pretreatment?: Yes.

Was there attrition bias1 ?: No.

Did the unit of analysis match the unit for random assignment (for randomized studies) or the assignment strategy (for quasi-experiments)?: Yes.

1 NCII follows guidance from the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) in determining attrition bias. The WWC model for determining bias based on a combination of differential and overall attrition rates can be found on pages 13-14 of this document: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/pdf/reference_resources/wwc_procedures_v2_1_standards_handbook.pdf

 

Fidelity of Implementation: Convincing Evidence

Describe when and how fidelity of treatment information was obtained: Tutor self-evaluations and direct observations were used to assess treatment fidelity. Both measures assessed the total number of program components implemented correctly. Self-evaluations were completed on a weekly basis. Tutors were observed three times during the implementation of the early literacy support program. Three trained observers conducted the observations randomly. Inter-observer agreement which was conducted on 33% of the sessions was 100%.

Provide documentation (i.e., in terms of numbers) of fidelity of treatment implementation: Tutor-reported overall mean percentage of Stepping Stones intervention program components implemented correctly was 97% (SD= 2.56). Independent observations were conducted randomly on a total of 42 tutoring sessions. The percentage of intervention program components implemented correctly was 100% in all cases.

Measures Targeted: Convincing Evidence

Measures Broader: Convincing Evidence

Targeted Measure Score type & range of measure Reliability statistics Relevance to program instructional content

Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP) Phonological Awareness Composite

The Phonological Awareness (PA) composite from the CTOPP was used. The PA composite is a norm-referenced assessment that provides an overall measure of the child’s phonological awareness skills. The PA composite comprises the Elision, Blending Words, and Sound Matching subtests. The Elision subtest includes 20 items that measure the extent to which the child can say a word and then say what is left after dropping out designated sounds. The Blending Words subtest includes 20 items that measure the extent to which the child can combine sounds to form words. The Sound Matching subtest includes 20 items that measure the extent to which the child can match sounds.

The coefficient alpha for the PA composite ranges from 0.95 to 0.98 across ethnic groups, and the overall test-retest reliability was 0.77. Furthermore, the coefficient alphas for the Elision, Blending Words, and Sound Matching subtests ranged from 0.87 to 0.95 across ethnic groups, and the overall test-retest reliabilities ranged from 0.71 to 0.81.

Identification, Manipulation, and Memory of Environmental Sounds. Five instructional activities are used to teach children a set of pivotal sound identification, manipulation, and memory skills necessary for them to fully benefit from instructional activities:

1. Sounds in isolation- Children are instructed to listen for the name of an animal articulated by the instructor within the context of a nursery rhyme.

2. Sound relationships- Children are instructed to identify the sound associated with the picture of an animal and to identify the picture of the animal associated with the sound of an animal.

3. Sounds in sequence- Children are instructed to identify the sequence of sounds articulated by the instructor.

4. Sound expectations- Children are instructed to identify unexpected words articulated by the instructor within the context of a nursery rhyme.

5. Omit a sound- Children are instructed to identify an environmental sound (e.g., dog barking or cough) omitted from a sequence of sounds articulated by the instructor.

Phonological Awareness. Five instructional activities are used to teach children to be consciously aware of the linguistic structure of the largest units of oral language (e.g., words, syllables):

1. Rhyme identification- Children are instructed to identify words that rhyme with one another in the context of a nursery rhyme.

2. Rhyme generation- Children are instructed to generate several words that rhyme with a word articulated by the instructor.

3. Word segmentation- Children are instructed to clap every time they hear a word in a nursery rhyme articulated by the instructor.

4. Syllable blending- Children are instructed to generate the word associated with two or more blended syllables articulated by the instructor.

5. Onset-rime blending- Children are instructed to generate the word associated with the initial sound and a specific word family (e.g., of, at) articulated by the instructor.

Phonemic Awareness. Four instructional activities are used to teach children to be consciously aware of the smallest units of oral language (i.e., phonemes):

1. Phoneme deletion- Children are instructed to generate the remaining word after the initial phoneme has been deleted from a word articulated by the instructor.

2. Phoneme identification- Children are instructed to identify each phoneme within a word articulated by the instructor.

3. Phoneme segmentation- Children are instructed to generate the initial, initial and final, or initial, medial, and final phoneme within a word articulated by the instructor.

4. Phoneme change- Children are instructed to generate a new word by changing the initial, final, or medial phoneme within a word articulated by the instructor.

Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) Initial Sound Fluency (ISF)

The  ISF probe provides a measure of a child’s phonological awareness skills. It measures a child’s ability to identify the initial sound in an orally presented word. The child is presented with four pictures and associated names and asked to identify (i.e., point to or say) the picture that represents the sound presented orally by the examiner. Children are also asked to orally produce the initial sound for an orally presented word. The score is the total number of onsets correctly produced in 1 minute.

 

The ISF has an alternate form reliability of 0.79.

Identification, Manipulation, and Memory of Environmental Sounds. Five instructional activities are used to teach children a set of pivotal sound identification, manipulation, and memory skills necessary for them to fully benefit from instructional activities:

1. Sounds in isolation- Children are instructed to listen for the name of an animal articulated by the instructor within the context of a nursery rhyme.

2. Sound relationships- Children are instructed to identify the sound associated with the picture of an animal and to identify the picture of the animal associated with the sound of an animal.

3. Sounds in sequence- Children are instructed to identify the sequence of sounds articulated by the instructor.

4. Sound expectations - Children are instructed to identify unexpected words articulated by the instructor within the context of a nursery rhyme.

5. Omit a sound- Children are instructed to identify an environmental sound (e.g., dog barking or cough) omitted from a sequence of sounds articulated by the instructor.

Phonological Awareness. Five instructional activities are used to teach children to be consciously aware of the linguistic structure of the largest units of oral language (e.g., words, syllables):

1. Rhyme identification- Children are instructed to identify words that rhyme with one another in the context of a nursery rhyme.

2. Rhyme generation- Children are instructed to generate several words that rhyme with a word articulated by the instructor.

3. Word segmentation- Children are instructed to clap every time they hear a word in a nursery rhyme articulated by the instructor.

4. Syllable blending- Children are instructed to generate the word associated with two or more blended syllables articulated by the instructor.

5. Onset-rime blending- Children are instructed to generate the word associated with the initial sound and a specific word family (e.g., of, at) articulated by the instructor.

Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) Phoneme Segmentation Fluency (PSF)

 

The PSF probe provides a measure of a child’s phonological awareness skills. It measures a child’s ability to segment three- and four-phoneme words into their individual phonemes fluently. The child is presented with words orally and asked to produce verbally the individual phonemes for each word. The score is the total number of phonemes produced correctly in 1 minute.

 

The PSF has an alternate form reliability of 0.79.

 

Phonological Awareness. Five instructional activities are used to teach children to be consciously aware of the linguistic structure of the largest units of oral language (e.g., words, syllables):

1. Rhyme identification- Children are instructed to identify words that rhyme with one another in the context of a nursery rhyme.

2. Rhyme generation- Children are instructed to generate several words that rhyme with a word articulated by the instructor.

3. Word segmentation- Children are instructed to clap every time they hear a word in a nursery rhyme articulated by the instructor.

4. Syllable blending- Children are instructed to generate the word associated with two or more blended syllables articulated by the instructor.

5. Onset-rime blending- Children are instructed to generate the word associated with the initial sound and a specific word family (e.g., of, at) articulated by the instructor.

Phonemic Awareness. Four instructional activities are used to teach children to be consciously aware of the smallest units of oral language (i.e., phonemes):

1. Phoneme deletion- Children are instructed to generate the remaining word after the initial phoneme has been deleted from a word articulated by the instructor.

2. Phoneme identification- Children are instructed to identify each phoneme within a word articulated by the instructor.

3. Phoneme segmentation- Children are instructed to generate the initial, initial and final, or initial, medial, and final phoneme within a word articulated by the instructor.

4. Phoneme change- Children are instructed to generate a new word by changing the initial, final, or medial phoneme within a word articulated by the instructor.

Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF)

 

The NWF probe provides a measure of a child’s word reading, including letter-sound correspondence and the ability to blend letter sounds into words. The child is presented with a set of random VC and CVC nonsense words (e.g., sig, rav, ov) and is asked to produce orally either the letter sounds in isolation or the complete nonsense word. The score is the total number of letter sounds produced correctly in 1 minute.

 

The NWF has an alternative form reliability of 0.83.

Broader Measure Score type & range of measure Reliability statistics Relevance to program instructional content

Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP) Rapid Naming (RN)Composite

The RN composite is a norm-referenced assessment that provides an overall measure of the child’s ability to efficiently retrieve phonological information from long-term memory. It comprises the Rapid Color Naming and Rapid Object Naming subtests. The Rapid Color Naming subtest includes 72 items that measure the speed with which a child can name the colors of a series of different colored blocks printed on two pages. The Rapid Object Naming subtest includes 72 items that measure the speed with which a child can name a series of objects on two pages.

The coefficient alpha for the RN composite ranges from 0.83 to 0.91 across ethnic groups, and the overall test–retest reliability was 0.90.  Furthermore, the coefficient alphas for the Rapid Color Naming and Rapid Object Naming subtests ranged from 0.76 to 0.91 across ethnic groups, and the overall test-retest reliabilities ranged from 0.81 to 0.86

 

Letter Naming and Sentence Meaning. Five instructional activities are used to teach children pivotal conventional early literacy skills:

1. Sentence recognition- Children are instructed to identify what is happening in each sentence of a nursery rhyme articulated by the instructor.

2. Sentence generation- Children are instructed to generate descriptions of what might be happening in a picture.

3. Letter names- Children are instructed to point and say letter names presented in a left-to-right format.

4. Letter name practice- Children are instructed to point and say as many letter names presented in a left-to-right format as they can in 1 minute.

5. Letter name cumulative review- Children are instructed to point and say as many letter names presented in a left-to-right format as they can in 1 minute.

Serial Processing. One instructional activity is used to enhance children’s serial processing skills. Children are presented with an array of visually depicted known stimuli that represent linguistic information (e.g., a series of five colors, letters, numbers, known objects) placed in random order.

Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) Letter Naming Fluency (LNF)

 

The LNF probe measures the speed with which a child can name letters. The child is presented with a page of random upper- and lowercase letters and is asked to name as many as he or she can in 1 minute. The score is the total number of letters named correctly.

 

The LNF has an alternative reliability of 0.93.

 

 

Number of Outcome Measures: 4 Prereading, 2 Reading

Mean ES - Targeted: Data Unavailable*u

Mean ES - Broader: Data Unavailable

Effect Size:

Targeted Measures

Construct Measure Effect Size
Prereading CTOPP Phonological Awareness
Prereading DIBELS Initial Sound Fluency
Reading DIBELS PSF
Reading DIBELS NWF 0.92**,u

Broader Measures

Construct Measure Effect Size
Prereading DIBELS LNF
Prereading CTOPP Rapid Naming

 

Key
*        p ≤ 0.05
**      p ≤ 0.01
***    p ≤ 0.001
–      Developer was unable to provide necessary data for NCII to calculate effect sizes
u      Effect size is based on unadjusted means
†      Effect size based on unadjusted means not reported due to lack of pretest group equivalency, and effect size based on adjusted means is not available

 

Visual Analysis (Single Subject Design): N/A

Disaggregated Data for Demographic Subgroups: No

Disaggregated Data for <20th Percentile: No

Administration Group Size: Small Group

Duration of Intervention: 20 minutes, 3 times a week, 8 weeks

Minimum Interventionist Requirements: Professional, Training is not required

Reviewed by WWC or E-ESSA: WWC

What Works Clearinghouse Review

Beginning Reading Protocol

Effectiveness: Stepping Stones to Literacy was found to have positive effects on student outcomes in the alphabetics domain.

Studies Reviewed: 2 studies meet standards out of 2 studies total

Full Report

 

Evidence for ESSA

This program was not reviewed by Evidence for ESSA.

 

Other Research: Potentially Eligible for NCII Review: 0 studies