Effects of explicit and systematic phonological and phonemic awareness (PPA) instruction in kindergarten

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University of Delaware
Reading acquisition is a major focus in schools. For students to be literate in the later grades, it is crucial that foundational skills instruction takes place in the primary grades (K-2). In part, foundational skills needed to become a successful reader include phonological and phonemic awareness (PPA). PPA skills are crucial, and researchers agree that if difficulties in these skills are not addressed early, students will have an increasingly challenging time making gains in their reading abilities as the years progress (Al-Bataineh & Sims-King, 2013). Instruction of PPA skills must be a major focus in primary grades due to their importance for later success in reading. ☐ As a kindergarten teacher in the Red Clay School District (RCSD), I recognize that providing students with research-based PPA instruction in the primary grades is vital to success in later grades. In recent years, kindergarten students in RCSD have demonstrated limited proficiency in foundational skills, such as phoneme segmentation and first sound fluency, likely due to instructional limits necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the purpose of this ELP was to (a) design a preliminary set of systematic and explicit PPA lessons, (b) conduct a pilot implementation of those lessons, and (c) evaluate the lesson design, fidelity and feasibility of implementation, and student learning during the pilot. ☐ Using research literature to support the lesson structure, I designed a set of 18 lessons focusing on PPA skills. Each lesson was designed to be explicit and systematic and lasted approximately 15-20 minutes. Lessons were delivered three times per week for six weeks. Students were assessed using DIBELS Next Phoneme Segmentation Fluency (PSF) subtest prior to and following the conclusion of instruction. Students were given progress monitoring assessments biweekly to evaluate progress towards proficiency with specific skills. Following the delivery of instruction, I evaluated the design and development of the PPA lessons, the feasibility of the PPA lessons, and the preliminary student results from the assessments. Lesson plans were successfully designed to be explicit and systematic. In addition, analysis of implementation revealed that the lessons were feasible for educators to implement. On average, students improved their PPA abilities from pretest to posttest. ☐ Given the promise of the pilot PPA instruction, I recommend that the school district adopt a research-based, explicit, and systematic PPA curriculum for use across the RCSD in kindergarten classrooms. Currently, RCSD is piloting UFLI foundations, a program that fits these criteria. Subsequently, the next steps for the RCSD are to adopt this curriculum, or a similar curriculum district wide, for the improvement of PPA skills in kindergarten across the district.
Instruction, Kindergarten, Phonological awareness, Phonemic awareness