Date of Award

Summer 8-2008

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership and Research

Committee Chair

David E. Lee

Committee Member 2

Wanda Maulding

Committee Member 3

James T. Johnson

Committee Member 4

Ronald Styron


The purpose of this study was to investigate a screening instrument targeting identification of preschool students in need of early intervention in order to determine the screening instrument's predictive validity. This study specifically examined the relationship between student scores on the DIALS and student achievement in reading at the end of first grade. All participants in the study were residing on Alaska's North Slope and the majority were Alaska Natives. The remote geographic location of the North Slope along with the ancient traditions of the Inupiat Eskimos, including the Inupiaq language that is still spoken among the residents of the North Slope, strongly influence the background experiences of the vast majority of the participants in this study.

The findings of this study support research that states young children at risk for reading failure can be identified while emergent reading skills are developing before formal reading instruction has even begun (Adams, 1990; Blachman, 1984; Foorman, 2003; Foorman et al., 1997; Scanlon & Vellutino, 1997; Share, 1984; Snow et al., 1998). The findings further support research indicating that emergent literacy skills developed by children during their early years of life lay the groundwork for and can accurately predict future reading achievement (Adams, 1990; Snow et al, 1998; Whitehurst & Lonigan, 1998).

The study found that there was a statistically significant relationship between scores on the DIALS and subsequent reading achievement as measured by the Reading Composite score of the TerraNova II. The DIALS was administered to students between the ages of three and five upon entering a preschool program. The TerraNova II was administered to students at the end of first grade. The study controlled for students who received special education services. Approximately 6 percent of the variability in the Terra Nova II was contributed to the DIALS Language Area score while approximately 9 percent was contributed to the DIALS total score. The small proportion of variability explained by the DIALS Language Area score and total score indicate that while both are statistically significant predictors, neither is an extremely strong predictor of reading achievement at the end of first grade.