Date Approved

7-17-2013

Date Posted

9-16-2013

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Dr. Ronald Williamson ‒ Chairperson

Committee Member

Dr. Ella Burton – Committee Member

Committee Member

Dr. Linda Lewis-White – Committee Member

Committee Member

Dr. Jaclynn Tracy – Committee Member

Abstract

A growing body of research has emerged to support the concept of providing early childhood education as a quality investment for our children, unlocking early potential and creating lasting impacts related to school success and beyond. Several landmark studies indicated that a quality education targeted at our youngest learners has the ability to yield impressive returns academically, economically, and socially. Early childhood education is credited with reducing costs associated with educational remediation, retention, and special education services. More important, early childhood education is associated with the prevention of early learning difficulties and overall improved education outcomes.

On the foundation of a positive external evaluation of one grant-funded Early Reading First site in northern Michigan, this dissertation explored teacher, student, and environmental factors related to early literacy acquisition for 173 four-year-old children in nine early childhood classroom programs. Using the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screener (PALS) for Pre-K and the Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation (ELLCO) Scores, student literacy acquisition was measured against 10 factors. The analysis of data gathered indicated a significant correlation between classroom environment and teacher efficacy and literacy instruction. Further investigation of teacher/ coaching relationships and curriculum is recommended to determine whether these factors may be significant in early literacy achievement of preschool children. Concurring with the literature that additional investments in early childhood education are warranted, educational leaders are encouraged to support literacy activities for young children prior to school entry.

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