HOUSTON - (Aug. 22, 2011) – Due to the pressing need for assessment tools that teachers can use to efficiently identify children's strengths and weaknesses in English and Spanish, monitor students' learning and inform instruction, the Children’s Learning Institute at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) has begun development of the School Readiness Curriculum Based Measurement System (SR-CBMS).
This four-year research project, funded through a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, will include research-based progress monitoring tools for both English-speaking children and young Spanish-speaking English learners that assess skills in vocabulary, letter identification, letter sounds and phonological awareness. Many children, especially those from ethnic and language minority groups, lag behind in development of these critical school readiness skills. This places them at risk for academic failure, said Jason Anthony, Ph.D., associate professor at the Children’s Learning Institute and principal investigator of the project.
“A substantial number of children do not acquire the early language and literacy skills that are essential for academic success. Regular monitoring of children's learning in critical school readiness areas could help close the achievement gap that currently exists,” says Anthony. “Many existing measures do not cover a broad enough range of language and literacy skills and few can be used with both English-speaking preschoolers and the growing population of young dual language learners.”
Co-principal investigators are Susan Landry, Ph.D., Paul Swank, Ph.D., Michael Assel, Ph.D., and Jeffery Williams, Ph.D., from the Children’s Learning Institute, and Emily Solari, Ph.D., from the University of California, Davis. Preliminary development work on the SR-CBMS will take place in Houston, with subsequent testing taking place across Texas. A socioeconomically diverse sample of approximately 4,000 English- and Spanish-speaking children ages 3 to 5 will participate in the study.
The SR-CBMS project will be conducted in four phases. In the first phase, Anthony said, researchers will generate assessment items for the four targeted skill areas in both English and Spanish. During the second phase, a pilot study will be conducted to examine the feasibility of initial testing procedures. The third phase will scale and evaluate test items, and the final phase will examine the SR-CBMS’ reliability and validity.
The SR-CBMS will include two brief parallel English tests and two brief parallel Spanish tests, as well as expanded versions in English and Spanish. Conforming Spanish and English will allow comparisons of bilingual children's competencies across languages. The SR-CBMS also will include an in-service training protocol for teachers and a user's manual.
“Our hope is that the SR-CBMS, and possibly a subsequent computer adaptive version, will help teachers make the best use of limited time and resources by supporting their efforts to provide targeted instruction to those children who need it most,” says Anthony.
About the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI)
The Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) is a nationally recognized institute that combines scholarship from the fields of education, psychology, neurodevelopment and medicine to create proven learning solutions based on empirical research. Through classroom interventions, clinical assessment, diagnosis and treatment of learning disorders, and cutting-edge research on techniques to enhance a child’s learning environment, CLI’s results-focused programs equip every child to learn and to excel. For more information, visit www.childrenslearninginstitute.org and follow the Children’s Learning Institute on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
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