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Supporting Early Academic Achievement through High Quality Instructional Support

Thu, March 21, 12:30 to 1:45pm, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 1, Exhibit Hall B

Integrative Statement

The quality of the instructional support provided by teachers is a critical factor for supporting children’s school success (Downer et al., 2010; Justice et al., 2008; Pentimonti & Justice, 2010). In fact, children whose teachers provide high instructional support (e.g., through co-participating, eliciting, and reflecting; Barnes & Dickinson, 2017; Pentimonti & Justice, 2010) demonstrate greater growth in their language and literacy skills during the early school years (Dickinson & Porsche, 2011; Zucker, 2013), as compared to children whose teachers provide low quality instructional support (e.g., through describing and labeling). Although instructional support varies across classroom settings and activities (Cabell et al., 2013; Cote, 2001), large-group shared reading has been identified as an opportune setting for early childhood teachers to utilize teaching strategies that are reflective of high instructional support such as, eliciting student participation and providing rich feedback (Gest et al., 2006; Justice et al., 2009). Moreover, recent research has suggested that wordless books may serve as a unique medium to foster high levels of instructional support as the wordless nature of the book encourages opportunities for open-ended questioning, and elaboration and feedback (Chaparro-Moreno et al., 2017). However, the research exploring this relationship is limited, particularly for classrooms that serve low-income, ethnic-minority children. The current study, thus, explored the relation between teachers’ levels of instructional support as they shared a wordless book, and the extent to which it predicted students’ academic outcomes in classrooms serving low-income minority children.

Participants included lead teachers from preschool (n=15) and kindergarten (n=26) classrooms in a large city. Teachers (M=43.64 years old, SD=10.76, range = 23-66 years old) were mainly female (95%; n=39) and 68% identified as Latino (n=15) or Black (n=13). Children (n=359, 53% female) were predominantly from Latino or African heritage backgrounds.

In the late fall, teachers were video recorded sharing the wordless picture book A Boy, a Dog and a Frog (Mayer, 1967) with their class. Instructional support was measured using the concept development, quality of feedback, and language modeling dimensions of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS Pre-K and CLASS K-3; Pianta et al., 2008). Children were assessed in the fall (for baseline scores) and late spring (for outcomes) using three measures: subtests from the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF Preschool-2 and CELF- 4th Edition; Semel et al., 2003; Wiig et al., 2004), the Woodcock-Muñoz Language Survey - Revised (WMLS-R; Woodcock et al., 2005), as well as the Head Toes Knees and Shoulders (HTKS; Ponitz et al., 2008) direct assessment.
Coding is ongoing. However, preliminary analyses suggest wide variability in CLASS scores, particularly in the language modeling dimension. Furthermore, kindergarten teachers seem to demonstrate higher concept development scores, as compared to preschool teachers. Once coding is complete, a series of regressions will be run to explore the relation between each CLASS dimension and the three indices of academic success. Findings will highlight the instructional support teachers provide during wordless book sharing and will be discussed in relation to best practices for supporting the early academic achievement of low-income ethnic-minority children.

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