Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology


Educational Psychology and Methodology

Content Description

1 online resource (xii, 163 pages) : illustrations

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Frank R Vellutino

Committee Members

Melinda Tanzman, Joan Newman, Glenn Deane


3 and 4 year olds, early intervention, early literacy, growth trajectories, Head Start, hierarchical linear modeling, Head Start programs, Literacy programs, Education, Preschool

Subject Categories

Early Childhood Education | Educational Psychology | Language and Literacy Education


The purpose of this study was to address the question of whether it is developmentally appropriate to expose preschool children to a comprehensive instructional program designed to facilitate the acquisition of early literacy skills. The primary means of addressing this question was to assess the development of emergent literacy skills in four-year-old children enrolled in a literacy-enriched Head Start program for a period of one year, as compared with those of four-year-old children who entered at age three and enrolled in the program for two years. Related questions of special interests are to what extent the three and four-year-old children would differ in their literacy development over their initial year in the program and to what extent would the two age groups develop emergent literacy skills during the period of time they were exposed to the program. These questions were addressed using multilevel growth modeling procedures and after controlling for entry-level child, family, and educational variables. Results showed that four-year-old children who had participated in the program for three-year-olds exhibited significantly higher literacy skills than new-entry four-year-olds throughout the program for four-year-olds. In addition, four-year-olds had higher beginning and end-of-year scores as well as higher growth rates than three-year-olds over the first year of participation. Finally, both three-year-olds and four-year-olds demonstrated substantial growth over their respective years in the Head Start program. The theoretical and practical implications of the study were discussed.