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UPDATE: Kindergarten Reading Program Effects Falter in 1st Grade

Last November, I told you about the Kindergarten PAVEd for Success early literacy program in Mississippi, which a federal study had found could boost disadvantaged kindergarteners' literacy skills by as much as a month of schooling.

Unfortunately, the latest follow-up report from the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast, housed at the SERVE Center of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has found that this early boost doesn't hold.

The K-PAVE program trains teachers to build on the basic kindergarten curriculum over a 24-week period with a set of academically themed vocabulary words and activities, as well as interactive reading and adult-child conversations. By the start of 1st grade, researchers found kindergarteners who had participated in the program were a month ahead of their control-group peers in both vocabulary and academic knowledge.

Yet by the end of students' 1st-grade year—when students generally begin formal reading instruction—the follow-up study found that the differences between the K-PAVE and other students flattened out. There were no statistically significant benefits, either overall or for specific student groups, such as boys or students whose initial literacy levels were low.

Researchers did note that the teachers in the initial study were in their first year of implementing the program, suggesting that the long-term effect may be stronger for teachers with more experience with the program. But the follow-up findings highlight the ongoing challenge of sustaining the effects of even successful individual interventions over the course of students' academic careers.

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