Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Chair

Dr. David Lee

Committee Chair Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Member 2

Dr. Michael Ward

Committee Member 2 Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Member 3

Dr. James T. Johnson

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Studies and Research

Committee Member 4

Dr. Rose Jones

Committee Member 4 Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

Abstract

The awareness of the positive impact of prekindergarten programs on the success of early literacy of students has heightened due to the research performed on the topic (Barnett et al., 2003; Cohen, 1996; Magnuson & Waldfogel, 2005). The purpose of this study was to evaluate prekindergarten student gains in the development of early literacy skills, depending on their prekindergarten program experience. The study further examined Head Start and public school prekindergarten teachers’ knowledge of early literacy skills.

Results from the prekindergarten teacher survey indicated that public school prekindergarten teachers had higher levels of education than Head Start prekindergarten teachers. The analysis disclosed that teachers’ college degrees were related to their knowledge of phonological awareness skills. The prekindergarten teachers’ educational background was related to their knowledge of letter sound recognition, letter sound segmentation, and rhyming, but educational background was not related to their knowledge of syllabication.

Results indicated the Head Start teachers had years of experience similar to those of public school prekindergarten teachers. Years of experience were not related to either groups’ knowledge of phonological awareness skills. There was a significant difference between public school prekindergarten teachers’ and Head Start prekindergarten teachers’ participation in phonological awareness skills’ professional development. Public school teachers had participated in professional development in a greater number of topics. Unexpectedly, the more professional development in which Head Start prekindergarten teachers participated, the lower their knowledge of the related skills. There was a significant difference between public school prekindergarten teachers’ and Head Start prekindergarten teachers’ knowledge of letter sound recognition and letter sound segmentation, but there was no significant difference between the two groups’ knowledge of syllabication and rhyming.

Analysis of the archived student data indicated that there was no significant difference in reading score gains among the student groups, whether they attended Head Start prekindergarten, public school prekindergarten, or no prekindergarten. The student prekindergarten type had no impact of the students’ first grade performance on the early literacy assessment. The analysis also disclosed no significant difference between the achievements of genders, regardless of prekindergarten type.