by Carol Flexer, Kate Kemp Biley, Alyssa Hinkley, Cheryl Harkema, and John Holcomb
The percentage of 4th grade students reading
at or above Proficient (as defined by the National Assessment Governing
Board – NAGB) has increased from 29% in 1992 to 32% in 2000.
However, this still means that about one third of fourth graders
in the United States could read at their grade level, and while
scores for the nation’s highest performing students have
improved over the years, scores of the lowest performing students
The following study (published in The Hearing Journal,
March 2002; vol.55, number 3) was an investigation into how to improve
emergent reading skills through the use of sound enhancement technology
and teacher training. Specifically, it was to determine if early phonological
and phonemic awareness training, coupled with the use of sound enhancement,
would reduce the number of children identified as at-risk readers by
low scores on the Yopp-Singer Test of Phonemic Segmentation.
The following table describes the three groups of children
(4 year olds) in the study who were tracked from their second
semester in pre-school through the end of their first semester
in kindergarten. The study continued for one year.
Children received the districtís standard pre-school and kindergarten curriculum.
|Phonological and phonemic awareness group:
Children received direct, group phonological and phonemic awareness instruction for 15 minutes, four times a week, starting the second semester of their pre-school year and continuing to the end of their first semester of their kindergarten year.
|Phonological and phonemic awareness group & SES*:
Teacher used the classroom sound system daily, and children received direct,
group phonological awareness instruction for 15 minutes, four times each week, starting the second semester
of their preschool year and continuing to the end of their first semester of their kindergarten year.
Some statistically significant differences
were found amongst the scores of the three groups. Post-hoc
testing indicated that scores in both Groups B and C were
significantly higher than scores in the control group. The
difference between Groups B and C is not statistically significant,
but statistical significance is very difficult to achieve
with a group size of 7 subjects (Group B).
Another outcome variable is the number of children
in each group who scored poorly (5 or less) on the second administration
of the Yopp-Singer Test, indicating that they were at risk for later reading problems if intervention did
not occur. At the second administration at the end of their first semester
in kindergarten, 13 children (57%) in the control group (A) scored 5 and below, and only 4 (17%) scored above
the mean score. In Group B, 3 children (43%) scored 5 and below and 4 (57%) scored above the norm. In Group C (the phonological
and phonemic awareness plus sound enhancement), only 2 children (9%) scored 5 and below on the post test and 18 (78%)
scored above the mean. The addition of sound enhancement technology appeared to make a substantial difference.
This study revealed a trend toward greater development of phonemic awareness skills when sound enhancement was
added to phonemic awareness instruction. The fewest at-risk readers came out of the pre-school and kindergarten classrooms
that were sound enhanced.