Stepping Stones to Literacy

Study: Nelson, Sanders, & Gonzalez (2010)

Nelson, J. R., Sanders, E. A., & Gonzalez, J. (2010). The efficacy of supplemental early literacy instruction by community–based tutors for preschoolers enrolled in Head Start. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 3, 68-92.
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: 88 students in preschool in eight Head Start classrooms (41 students in the treatment group and 47 students in the control group)

Risk Status: Participation in Head Start classrooms. Children in the study were participants in Head Start. Head Start provides services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds (low income or eligible for public assistance) who are at-risk for being unprepared for school. Additional information from the lead author, Nelson, indicates the TOPEL Phonological Awareness subtest is directly linked to the intervention. The treatment group (entire sample) mean pre-test is equal to the 16th percentile (standard score = 85).

Demographics:

 

Program

Control

p of chi square

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Grade level

  Preschool

41

100%

47

100%

 

  Kindergarten

 

 

 

 

 

  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

 

 

 

 

p > 0.10

  American Indian

 

 

 

 

p > 0.10

  Asian/Pacific Islander

 

 

 

 

p > 0.10

  Hispanic

 

 

 

 

p > 0.10

  White

 

 

 

 

p > 0.10

  Other

 

 

 

 

p > 0.10

Socioeconomic status

  Subsidized lunch

 

 

 

 

 

  No subsidized lunch

 

 

 

 

 

Disability status

  Speech-language impairments

 

 

 

 

 

  Learning disabilities

 

 

 

 

 

  Behavior disorders

 

 

 

 

 

  Intellectual disabilities

 

 

 

 

 

  Other

 

 

 

 

 

  Not identified with a disability

 

 

 

 

 

ELL status

  English language learner

 

 

 

 

p > 0.10

  Not English language learner

 

 

 

 

p > 0.10

Gender

Female

 

 

 

 

p > 0.10

Male

 

 

 

 

p > 0.10

Training of Instructors: Stepping Stones instruction was provided by trained paraprofessional level tutors. All tutors were recruited from respective communities served by the Head Start centers. All tutors had completed high school and had no prior teaching experience. First, tutors were provided the theory and rationale for Stepping Stones. Second, research staff modeled and practiced the instructional activities with tutors. Third, tutors then practiced each of the instructional activities in simulated practice conditions. Tutors were provided corrective feedback while they were practicing the instructional activities. Fourth, tutors were observed delivering the first two lessons during the project and provided corrective feedback to ensure treatment fidelity. Tutors were then observed by project staff three additional times to assess treatment fidelity; if necessary, following these observations project staff provided corrective feedback.

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: Partially Convincing Evidence

Describe when and how fidelity of treatment information was obtained: Each tutor in both treatment and control conditions was observed during an intervention session on equidistant occasions (once per week). To measure fidelity, tutors were rated on a 5 point behavior frequency scale on each relevant instructional practice (8 practices for treatment and 9 practices for control). Across each instructional practice category, means were computed and then the means were averaged across the three observations to obtain a fidelity score which was applied to each small group.

Provide documentation (i.e., in terms of numbers) of fidelity of treatment implementation: The effects of treatment on posttest measures were examined when statistically controlling for treatment fidelity. Multilevel modeling was used to analyze child outcomes. To determine whether treatment had unique impacts on posttests after controlling for pretest, small-group treatment fidelity, and classroom and home literacy environments, the authors added the respective grand-mean centered covariates to their three-level direct effects models. The unique effect of treatment fidelity on posttest measures did not reach significance. Thus, the reviewers did not believe it was necessary to include raw data given the outcomes. The obtained fidelity means and standard deviations for the experimental and control conditions were 30.39 (SD=1.23) (maximum score =32) and 34.56 (SD=1.82) (maximum score = 36).

Measures Targeted: Convincing Evidence

Measures Broader: Convincing Evidence

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

Print awareness =
Section A from Test of Preschool Early Literacy (TOPEL; Lonigan,Wagner, & Torgesen, 2007) Print Knowledge subtest.

Total number of correct items on Section A.

Testing begins at Item 1 and continues until the child finishes all 12 items or until the child makes three consecutive errors.

Internal consistency for our sample was 0.87 and 0.91 at pretest and posttest, respectively.

Instructional activities are designed to promote children’s PA and alphabetic knowledge

Alphabetic knowledge =
Sections B and C from the TOPEL Print Knowledge subtest

Number of correct responses on Sections B and C.

For both Sections, testing begins at Item 1 and continues until the child finishes all items in the section or until the child makes three consecutive incorrect responses.

Across Sections B and C, there are 24 possible points. Section B: score range is 1-10. Section C: score range is 1-14.

Across Sections A, B, and C, the average reliability for 3- to 5-year olds reported in the TOPEL test manual for this subtest is 0.95. Internal consistency for our sample was 0.96 and 0.97 at pretest and posttest, respectively.

 

 
Phonological awareness =  
TOPEL Phonological Awareness subtest

The raw score is the number correct out of 27 possible points.

 

Internal consistency reported in the examiner’s manual for 3- to 5-year-olds averages 0.87. Internal consistency for our sample was 0.89 and 0.91 at pretest and posttest, respectively.

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

Vocabulary =
TOPEL Definitional Vocabulary subtest

Each item in both sections is worth 2 points (one for the object name and one for the object function). Testing begins at the first item and is discontinued when the child misses three consecutive items. With 35 items, the raw score is the total correct out of 70.

Internal consistency reported in the examiner’s manual for 3- to 5-year-olds averages 0.94. Internal consistency for our sample was 0.96 for both pretest and posttest.

Instructional activities are designed to promote children’s PA and alphabetic knowledge

 

Number of Outcome Measures: 3 Prereading, 1 Reading

Mean ES - Targeted: Data Unavailableu

Mean ES - Broader: Data Unavailableu

Effect Size:

Targeted Measures

Construct Measure Effect Size
Prereading TOPEL Phonological Awareness 0.26u
Prereading TOPEL Print Awareness – Section A
Prereading TOPEL Print Awareness – Section B (Alphabetic Knowledge) 0.27u

Broader Measures

Construct Measure Effect Size
Reading TOPEL Definitional Vocabulary

 

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, (n=2-6)

Duration of Intervention: 20 minutes, 5 times a week, 10 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