Ready Readers is Making a Difference!
2015-2016 Outcome Study:
LS Associates developed and implemented our 2015-16 outcome study. The study is designed to measure children’s engagement with books and reading-related behaviors in four early childhood centers. In addition, data was collected from the classroom teachers and volunteers participating in the Ready Readers program.
In summary, this past school year, there were:
- Increases in the children’s exposure to and engagement with books and reading as demonstrated from pre to post in the percentage of children who could identify a favorite book and who reported being read to both at home and at school. Specifically, 93% of the children who participated in Ready Readers for one school year could identify a favorite book, yet at a comparison site without Ready Readers, 67% of the children could identify a favorite book. 98% of the children in the Ready Readers program reported that someone at school read to them, yet at a comparison site without Ready Readers, 58% reported that someone read to them at school.
- Increased support for pre-reading skills, leading to higher percentages of children at post who correctly identified their printed names, who identified specific letters in their names, and who could sing a simple children’s song. 81% of children who participated in Ready Readers could correctly identify their first names, yet only 25% of the children at a comparison site without Ready Readers could identify their first name.
- Improvements in reading-related behaviors. From pre to post, higher percentages of the children demonstrated: a) the ability to hold a book and turn pages correctly, and b) a familiarity with the task of reading stories by pretending to read a book they selected. 88% of children who participated in Ready Readers pretended to read a book when they selected a book, but only 58% of the children at the comparison site without Ready Readers pretended to read a book. 94% of teacher agreed that the Ready Readers volunteers helped inspire children to like books and to become readers themselves someday.
2013-2014 Outcome Study:
In the fall of 2013, Ready Readers once again hired LS Associates to develop and implement an outcome study, designed to measure children’s engagement with books and reading-related behaviors in four early childhood centers. In addition, data was collected from the classroom teachers and volunteers participating in the Ready Readers program.
Results of Childrens Pre/Post Assessments: Evaluation results show the following:
- Increases from pre to post in all five of the pre-reading behaviors tested
- Increases in the percentage of children who were read to at home (by family members)
- Increases in the percentage who were read to at school (by their teachers or teachers aides)
- Increases in their vocabulary (in their ability to define the terms author and illustrator)
- Increases in the early literacy activities of identifying their written names and singing simple songs
- The ability to recall content from Ready Readers books that had been read to them
- A familiarity with their Ready Reader volunteers and the gift books that had been sent home with them.
Results of Teachers Surveys: Surveys completed by preschool classroom teachers showed high levels of satisfaction with Ready Readers and its impacts, with most teachers (80% or more) strongly agreeing or agreeing that their volunteer readers:
- Were well-trained, warm, and friendly
- Read consistently each week
- Read in a way that successfully engaged the children
Results from volunteers were similarly positive, with similar examples of behaviors they observed that showed children were growing in their love of books and reading over the course of the program year.
2012-2013 Outcome Study:
In the fall of 2012, Ready Readers hired LS Associates to develop and help implement a quasi-experimental study to document program outcomes. The evaluation methods included collection of observational data from a trained classroom observer, classroom teacher observations, and a volunteer reader. The collection of data began in November 2012 at two, low-income early childhood centers that had not previously participated in the Ready Readers program.
The primary Ready Readers outcome that the evaluation sought to measure was increased interest and engagement with books among the children with Ready Readers in their classrooms. Observation protocols and questionnaires were designed to monitor the behaviors of children during unstructured time in which they were free to demonstrate interest and engagement with books without prompting.
Summary of Volunteer Observations: four- and five-year-olds showed an increase in excitement, attention, and engagement related to books
Summary of Teacher Observations: amount of time children spent with books during free choice time increased from 13 to 31 minutes, on average
Large increases in behaviors were documented regarding frequency of occurrence, number of children exhibiting behaviors, and amount of time spent with books. While some of these increases could be due to maturation, many of the pre-literacy behaviors would need to be modeled by someone on a regular basis (like a Ready Reader volunteer) before children would imitate them. The fact that some of the behaviors were non-existent at pre-observation suggests that another variable was responsible for such increases.
This evaluation of Ready Readers found evidence that the program achieves its primary outcome of increasing childrens interest and engagement with books and reading. There is ample documentation of the benefits the program has for preschool children, particularly those from low-income communities.
2009-2010 Outcome Study:
In 2010, the Board of Directors and the staff of Ready Readers embarked on a plan to measure the effectiveness of the program. After the Ready Readers Outcome Study Committee defined the scope of the study, Westgate Research was hired. The purpose of the study was to determine effectiveness of the program, and its success in affecting the attitudes and emergent literacy skills of the preschool-aged children served.
In Spring 2010, a questionnaire was hand-delivered to all 357 teachers involved with the Ready Readers program. Teachers from three types of early childhood education programs were represented: the early childhood programs in the St. Louis Public Schools; the Head Start Programs; and other early childhood programs which may be for profit, United Way, or faith-based. In addition, a questionnaire was delivered or mailed to 420 volunteers currently reading for Ready Readers. The overall response rate from the teachers was 63% and from the volunteers it was 41%.
The mission of Ready Readers is to inspire preschool age children from low-income communities to become readers. Results indicate that 90% of the teachers surveyed believe that Ready Readers GREATLY contributes to their students’ enjoyment of books.
One of the goals of Ready Readers is to enhance early literacy skills, including print awareness, phonological awareness, letter knowledge, and print motivation. All are essential skills that a child needs before reading independently. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of the teachers surveyed believe that Ready Readers is enhancing the literacy skills of their students.