Stepping Stones to Literacy
Study: Nelson et al. (2010)

Summary

Stepping Stones to Literacy is a scientifically based (i.e., a randomized experimental study used to validate its effectiveness) early literacy intervention. The program includes the critical properties of effective early literacy interventions identified by the NICHD’s National Reading Panel (2000). 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. Listening instructional activities teach children to focus on specific sounds and to understand that sounds: (a) Are associated with symbols; (b) Can be put together in a sequence; and (c) Can be taken apart. 2. Conventions. Conventions instructional activities teach children to identify letter names and convey that language has meaning (i.e., sentences tell stories). Additionally, the letter identification instructional activities are designed to build children’s serial processing skills. 3. Phonological awareness. Phonological awareness instructional activities teach children to be consciously aware of the linguistic structure of the largest units of oral language (i.e., words, syllables). 4. Phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness instructional activities teach children to be consciously sensitive to the smallest units of oral language (i.e., phonemes). 5. Serial processing. Serial processing instructional activities build children’s ability to process information in a left-to-right format. Serial processing-identifying and naming different patterns of given stimuli is critical to achieving automaticity with the code or reading fluency. 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. Note: Teachers are provided with prompts in English and Spanish.

Target Grades:
K, 1
Target Populations:
  • Students with disabilities only
  • Students with learning disabilities
  • English language learners
  • Any student at risk for academic failure
Area(s) of Focus:
  • Phonological awareness
  • Phonics/word study
  • Other: Serial processing and listening
Where to Obtain:
Cambium Education, Inc.
4093 Specialty Place, Longmont, CO 80504
800-547-6747
www.cambiumlearning.com
Initial Cost:
$50.69 per 5 students/1 teacher
Replacement Cost:
Free

Initial cost for implementing program: 5 students/1 teacher: $50.69/student (Cost includes all student and teacher materials: Instructor’s Manual and Lesson Book). Pricing based on 2012 prices. Visit http://store.cambiumlearning.com for future pricing. 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 continue implementation.

Staff Qualified to Administer Include:
  • Special Education Teacher
  • General Education Teacher
  • Reading Specialist
  • Math Specialist
  • EL Specialist
  • Interventionist
  • Student Support Services Personnel (e.g., counselor, social worker, school psychologist, etc.)
  • Paraprofessional
  • Other:
Training Requirements:
Training not required

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


There are no specific training materials for this product—strong professional development support and guidance is included in the product.

Access to Technical Support:
Professional development provided at request of school district.
Recommended Administration Formats Include:
  • Individual students
  • Small group of students
Minimum Number of Minutes Per Session:
20
Minimum Number of Sessions Per Week:
5
Minimum Number of Weeks:
10
Detailed Implementation Manual or Instructions Available:
Yes
Is Technology Required?
No technology is required.

Program Information

Descriptive Information

Please provide a description of program, including intended use:

Stepping Stones to Literacy is a scientifically based (i.e., a randomized experimental study used to validate its effectiveness) early literacy intervention. The program includes the critical properties of effective early literacy interventions identified by the NICHD’s National Reading Panel (2000). 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. Listening instructional activities teach children to focus on specific sounds and to understand that sounds: (a) Are associated with symbols; (b) Can be put together in a sequence; and (c) Can be taken apart. 2. Conventions. Conventions instructional activities teach children to identify letter names and convey that language has meaning (i.e., sentences tell stories). Additionally, the letter identification instructional activities are designed to build children’s serial processing skills. 3. Phonological awareness. Phonological awareness instructional activities teach children to be consciously aware of the linguistic structure of the largest units of oral language (i.e., words, syllables). 4. Phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness instructional activities teach children to be consciously sensitive to the smallest units of oral language (i.e., phonemes). 5. Serial processing. Serial processing instructional activities build children’s ability to process information in a left-to-right format. Serial processing-identifying and naming different patterns of given stimuli is critical to achieving automaticity with the code or reading fluency. 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. Note: Teachers are provided with prompts in English and Spanish.

The program is intended for use in the following age(s) and/or grade(s).

not selected Age 0-3
not selected Age 3-5
selected Kindergarten
selected First grade
not selected Second grade
not selected Third grade
not selected Fourth grade
not selected Fifth grade
not selected Sixth grade
not selected Seventh grade
not selected Eighth grade
not selected Ninth grade
not selected Tenth grade
not selected Eleventh grade
not selected Twelth grade


The program is intended for use with the following groups.

selected Students with disabilities only
selected Students with learning disabilities
not selected Students with intellectual disabilities
not selected Students with emotional or behavioral disabilities
selected English language learners
selected Any student at risk for academic failure
not selected Any student at risk for emotional and/or behavioral difficulties
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

ACADEMIC INTERVENTION: Please indicate the academic area of focus.

Early Literacy

not selected Print knowledge/awareness
not selected Alphabet knowledge
not selected Phonological awareness
not selected Phonological awarenessEarly writing
not selected Early decoding abilities
not selected Other

If other, please describe:

Language

not selected Expressive and receptive vocabulary
not selected Grammar
not selected Syntax
not selected Listening comprehension
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Reading

selected Phonological awareness
selected Phonics/word study
not selected Comprehension
not selected Fluency
not selected Vocabulary
not selected Spelling
selected Other
If other, please describe:
Serial processing and listening

Mathematics

not selected Computation
not selected Concepts and/or word problems
not selected Whole number arithmetic
not selected Comprehensive: Includes computation/procedures, problem solving, and mathematical concepts
not selected Algebra
not selected Fractions, decimals (rational number)
not selected Geometry and measurement
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Writing

not selected Handwriting
not selected Spelling
not selected Sentence construction
not selected Planning and revising
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION: Please indicate the behavior area of focus.

Externalizing Behavior

not selected Physical Aggression
not selected Verbal Threats
not selected Property Destruction
not selected Noncompliance
not selected High Levels of Disengagement
not selected Disruptive Behavior
not selected Social Behavior (e.g., Peer interactions, Adult interactions)
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Internalizing Behavior

not selected Depression
not selected Anxiety
not selected Social Difficulties (e.g., withdrawal)
not selected School Phobia
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Acquisition and cost information

Where to obtain:

Address
4093 Specialty Place, Longmont, CO 80504
Phone Number
800-547-6747
Website
www.cambiumlearning.com

Initial cost for implementing program:

Cost
$50.69
Unit of cost
5 students/1 teacher

Replacement cost per unit for subsequent use:

Cost
$0.00
Unit of cost
Duration of license

Additional cost information:

Describe basic pricing plan and structure of the program. Also, provide information on what is included in the published program, as well as what is not included but required for implementation (e.g., computer and/or internet access)

Initial cost for implementing program: 5 students/1 teacher: $50.69/student (Cost includes all student and teacher materials: Instructor’s Manual and Lesson Book). Pricing based on 2012 prices. Visit http://store.cambiumlearning.com for future pricing. 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 continue implementation.

Program Specifications

Setting for which the program is designed.

selected Individual students
selected Small group of students
not selected BI ONLY: A classroom of students

If group-delivered, how many students compose a small group?

   2-5

Program administration time

Minimum number of minutes per session
20
Minimum number of sessions per week
5
Minimum number of weeks
10
not selected N/A (implemented until effective)

If intervention program is intended to occur over less frequently than 60 minutes a week for approximately 8 weeks, justify the level of intensity:

Does the program include highly specified teacher manuals or step by step instructions for implementation?
Yes

BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION: Is the program affiliated with a broad school- or class-wide management program?

If yes, please identify and describe the broader school- or class-wide management program:

Does the program require technology?
No

If yes, what technology is required to implement your program?
not selected Computer or tablet
not selected Internet connection
not selected Other technology (please specify)

If your program requires additional technology not listed above, please describe the required technology and the extent to which it is combined with teacher small-group instruction/intervention:

Training

How many people are needed to implement the program ?

Is training for the instructor or interventionist required?
No
If yes, is the necessary training free or at-cost?

Describe the time required for instructor or interventionist training:
Training not required

Describe the format and content of the instructor or interventionist training:
Training is not required. Training can be provided at the request of the school district.

What types or professionals are qualified to administer your program?

selected Special Education Teacher
selected General Education Teacher
selected Reading Specialist
selected Math Specialist
selected EL Specialist
selected Interventionist
selected Student Support Services Personnel (e.g., counselor, social worker, school psychologist, etc.)
not selected Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist or Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
selected Paraprofessional
not selected Other

If other, please describe:

Does the program assume that the instructor or interventionist has expertise in a given area?
No   

If yes, please describe: 


Are training manuals and materials available?
No

Describe how the training manuals or materials were field-tested with the target population of instructors or interventionist and students:
There are no specific training materials for this product—strong professional development support and guidance is included in the product.

Do you provide fidelity of implementation guidance such as a checklist for implementation in your manual?

Can practitioners obtain ongoing professional and technical support?
Yes

If yes, please specify where/how practitioners can obtain support:

Professional development provided at request of school district.

Summary of Evidence Base

Please identify, to the best of your knowledge, all the research studies that have been conducted to date supporting the efficacy of your program, including studies currently or previously submitted to NCII for review. Please provide citations only (in APA format); do not include any descriptive information on these studies. NCII staff will also conduct a search to confirm that the list you provide is accurate.

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, 13(1), 3-12.

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, 1-25.

Nelson, J. R., Stage, S. A., Epstein, M. H., & Pierce, C. D. (2005). Effects of a prereading intervention on the literacy and social skills of children. Exceptional Children, 72(1), 29-45.

Study Information

Study Citations

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() 1-25.

Participants Full Bobble

Describe how students were selected to participate in the study:
Eight Head Start classrooms from rural Midwest communities agreed to participate in the study, All children whose teachers believed the interventions were appropriate were recruited to participate. The consent procedures allowed teachers to exclude those children they believed would not benefit from the interventions. All children were recruited to participate with the exception of those experiencing significant learning and/or behavioral difficulties (n=4). Parental informed consent was obtained in all cases.

Describe how students were identified as being at risk for academic failure (AI) or as having emotional or behavioral difficulties (BI):
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).

ACADEMIC INTERVENTION: What percentage of participants were at risk, as measured by one or more of the following criteria:
  • below the 30th percentile on local or national norm, or
  • identified disability related to the focus of the intervention?
%

BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION: What percentage of participants were at risk, as measured by one or more of the following criteria:
  • emotional disability label,
  • placed in an alternative school/classroom,
  • non-responsive to Tiers 1 and 2, or
  • designation of severe problem behaviors on a validated scale or through observation?
%

Specify which condition is the submitted intervention:
The treatment (PA-focused intervention) received Stepping Stones to Literacy.

Specify which condition is the control condition:
Children in the control group (vocabulary-focused intervention) received instruction in a modified Interactive Book Reading condition. The program is based in part on Interactive Book Reading in that storybooks linked to themes and the same three-step instructional sequence is used. The difference is that pictures and guiding prompts were used in the control condition to introduce, engage and motivate, encourage explanations and support independent use of word meanings (instead of a Prop Box as in Interactive Book Reading).

If you have a third, competing condition, in addition to your control and intervention condition, identify what the competing condition is (data from this competing condition will not be used):

Using the tables that follow, provide data demonstrating comparability of the program group and control group in terms of demographics.

Grade Level

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
Age less than 1
Age 1
Age 2
Age 3
Age 4
Age 5 41 47 0.00
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

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
African American
American Indian
Asian/Pacific Islander
Hispanic
White
Other

Socioeconomic Status

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
Subsidized Lunch
No Subsidized Lunch

Disability Status

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
Speech-Language Impairments
Learning Disabilities
Behavior Disorders
Emotional Disturbance
Intellectual Disabilities
Other
Not Identified With a Disability

ELL Status

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
English Language Learner
Not English Language Learner

Gender

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
Female
Male

Mean Effect Size

0.00

For any substantively (e.g., effect size ≥ 0.25 for pretest or demographic differences) or statistically significant (e.g., p < 0.05) pretest differences between groups in the descriptions below, please describe the extent to which these differences are related to the impact of the treatment. For example, if analyses were conducted to determine that outcomes from this study are due to the intervention and not demographic characteristics, please describe the results of those analyses here.

Design Full Bobble

What method was used to determine students' placement in treatment/control groups?
Random
Please describe the assignment method or the process for defining treatment/comparison groups.
Parent consent was then obtained prior to pretest. Within classrooms, participating children were randomly assigned to small groups (there were 2 to 4 small groups per classroom), and then small groups comprising 2 to 6 children each (with an average of 3 preschoolers per small group) were randomly assigned to receive supplemental small-group instruction in either the treatment or the control program. After attrition of 11 children (5 treatment and 6 controls due to moving out of the program), there were 41 treatment children (across 13 small groups) and 47 controls (across 14 small groups).

What was the unit of assignment?
Other
If other, please specify:
Students and small groups

Please describe the unit of assignment:

What unit(s) were used for primary data analysis?
not selected Schools
not selected Teachers
not selected Students
not selected Classes
selected Other
If other, please specify:
Students and small groups

Please describe the unit(s) used for primary data analysis:

Fidelity of Implementation Half Bobble

How was the program delivered?
not selected Individually
selected Small Group
not selected Classroom

If small group, answer the following:

Average group size
3
Minimum group size
2
Maximum group size
6

What was the duration of the intervention (If duration differed across participants, settings, or behaviors, describe for each.)?

Weeks
10.00
Sessions per week
5.00
Duration of sessions in minutes
20.00
What were the background, experience, training, and ongoing support of the instructors or interventionists?
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. Stepping Stones to Literacy is user friendly with an instructional layout that is predictable and clear for ease of implementation by a wide array of educators, including classroom teachers, resource teachers, and literacy specialists. Further, such instructional layouts have allowed paraeducators to use it effectively, which will increase the instructional potential of the increasing number of paraeducators in U.S. schools (National Center for Education Statistics, 2009) to positively affect early literacy achievement. The training and ongoing support of the instructions included the following steps. 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.

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.

What were the results on the fidelity-of-treatment implementation measure?
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).

Was the fidelity measure also used in control classrooms?
Yes, The obtained fidelity mean and standard deviation for the control condition was 34.56 (sd=1.82) (maximum score = 36).

Measures and Results

Measures Targeted : Full Bobble
Measures Broader : Full Bobble

Study measures are classified as targeted, broader, or administrative data according to the following definitions:

  • Targeted measures
    Assess outcomes, such as competencies or skills that the program was directly targeted to improve.
    • In the academic domain, targeted measures typically are not the very items taught but rather novel items structured similarly to the content addressed in the program. For example, if a program taught word-attack skills, a targeted measure would be decoding of pseudo words. If a program taught comprehension of cause-effect passages, a targeted measure would be answering questions about cause-effect passages structured similarly to those used during intervention, but not including the very passages used for intervention.
    • In the behavioral domain, targeted measures evaluate aspects of external or internal behavior the program was directly targeted to improve and are operationally defined.
  • Broader measures
    Assess outcomes that are related to the competencies or skills targeted by the program but not directly taught in the program.
    • In the academic domain, if a program taught word-level reading skill, a broader measure would be answering questions about passages the student reads. If a program taught calculation skill, a broader measure would be solving word problems that require the same kinds of calculation skill taught in the program.
    • In the behavioral domain, if a program taught a specific skill like on-task behavior in one classroom, a broader measure would be academic performance in that setting or on-task behavior in another setting.
  • Administrative data measures apply only to behavioral intervention tools and are measures such as office discipline referrals (ODRs) and graduation rates which do not have psychometric properties as do other, more traditional targeted or broader measures.

Click here for more information on effect size.


What populations are you submitting outcome data for?
not selected Full sample
not selected Students at or below the 20th percentile
not selected English language learners
not selected Racial/ethnic subgroups
not selected Economically disadvantaged students (low socioeconomic status)
Targeted Measure Reverse Coded? Reliability Relevance Exposure
Broader Measure Reverse Coded? Reliability Relevance Exposure
Administrative Data Measure Reverse Coded? Relevance

Posttest Data

Targeted Measures (Full Sample)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P

Broader Measures (Full Sample)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P

Administrative Measures (Full Sample)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P

Targeted Measures (Subgroups)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P

Broader Measures (Subgroups)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P

Administrative Measures (Subgroups)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P
For any substantively (e.g., effect size ≥ 0.25 for pretest or demographic differences) or statistically significant (e.g., p < 0.05) pretest differences, please describe the extent to which these differences are related to the impact of the treatment. For example, if analyses were conducted to determine that outcomes from this study are due to the intervention and not pretest characteristics, please describe the results of those analyses here.
Please explain any missing data or instances of measures with incomplete pre- or post-test data.
If you have excluded a variable or data that are reported in the study being submitted, explain the rationale for exclusion:
Describe the analyses used to determine whether the intervention produced changes in student outcomes:
The following is from the Analytic Methods section of the article on pages 14-15: Because of the complex nature of the child outcome data, we used multilevel modeling to analyze intervention condition differences. Because children received intervention in small groups within classrooms, two inherent nesting structures were present: Children within a given small group are likely to have more similar instructional experiences than children in other small groups, and small groups were more likely to be more similar to one another if they were drawn from the same classroom compared to other classrooms. Consequently, scores from children and small groups were not treated as independent. Specifically, we used two models. First, we tested for direct effects using a simple three-level model in which children’s scores (Level 1) are nested in small groups (Level 2), which are in turn nested in classrooms (Level 3). In our second set of models (to test for unique treatment effects), we simultaneously added four covariates, all grand-mean centered, including respective child pretest, child’s home literacy environment (mean across 12 items on home literacy survey), small-group treatment fidelity, and classroom literacy environment (teacher report of total daily minutes afforded to literacy instruction).

Additional Research

Is the program reviewed by WWC or E-ESSA?
WWC
Summary of WWC / E-ESSA Findings :

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.

How many additional research studies are potentially eligible for NCII review?
0
Citations for Additional Research Studies :

Disclaimer

Most tools and programs evaluated by the NCII are branded products which have been submitted by the companies, organizations, or individuals that disseminate these products. These entities supply the textual information shown above, but not the ratings accompanying the text. NCII administrators and members of our Technical Review Committees have reviewed the content on this page, but NCII cannot guarantee that this information is free from error or reflective of recent changes to the product. Tools and programs have the opportunity to be updated annually or upon request.