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Greene, Beth G. 

A Summary Report of the Instructional Effectiveness of the 
"Steck Vaughn Phonics Program”: Level A- -Units 3 and 4 & 
Level B- -Units 2 and 3- Technical Report Number 105. 
Educational Research Inst, of America, Bloomington, IN. 
2001-06-01 
9p. 

Educational Research Institute of America, PO Box 5875, 
Bloomington, IN 47408-5875. 

Reports - Research (143) 

MF01/PC01 Plus Postage. 

♦Instructional Effectiveness; * Phonics,* Pilot Projects; 
Pretests Posttests; Primary Education; *Program Evaluation; 
♦Reading 

California; Florida; Illinois; Subtests; Test Trials 



ABSTRACT 



This report describes a pilot study conducted to evaluate 
the instructional effectiveness of the Steck-Vaughn Phonics Program: Level 
A-Units 3 and 4 and Level B-Units 2 and 3. The Educational Research Institute 
of America (ERIA) identified volunteer teachers to participate, designed the 
assessments, and analyzed the collected data. Because the focus was on the 
program's primary levels, it was limited to Grades 1 and 2; Level A-Units 3 
and 4 were used in first grade, while Level B-Units 2 and 3 were used in 
second grade. These units, selected by the teachers to best fit their 
schools' reading objectives at the time, included the teaching of eight 
initial consonants, six final consonants, short vowels, long vowels, and 
vowel diagraphs. A quasi -experimental pretest posttest design was used; 18 
first and second grade teachers in California, Illinois, and Florida 
volunteered to participate. Approximately 400 students were included. 

Teachers administered the phonics tests developed by ERIA as pretests, taught 
the designated units from the Steck-Vaughn program, and administered the 
posttests after completing instruction. All - assessments were scored by hand 
at ERIA. Results indicated that: (1) after about three weeks of instruction, 

two groups of first and second graders increased pretest scores to posttest 
scores a statistically significant amount on 5 out of 6 subtests and on total 
test scores for both the first and second grade assessments; (2) an analysis 
of students who scored lowest on the pretest indicated much greater 
improvement than was shown for the entire group- -more than twice as great; 

(3) on the single subtest (second grade) where there was not a statistically 
significant improvement, there was evidence of a "ceiling" effect; and (4) 
all the teachers reported they were able to use the Steck-Vaughn Phonics 
Program without problems. Contains 5 tables of data. (NKA) 



Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made 
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EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF AMERICA 



Post Office Box 5875 ♦ Bloomington ♦ Indiana ♦ 47408-5875 



Technical Report Number 105 
June 1, 2001 



A Summary Report of the Instructional Effectiveness 
of the Steck Vaughn Phonics Program : 

Level A — Units 3 and 4 & Level B — Units 2 and 3 

By Beth G. Greene 



U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 
Office of Educational Research and Improvement 

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION 
CENTER (ERIC) 

□ This document has been reproduced as 
received from the person or organization 
originating it. 

□ Minor changes have been made to 
improve reproduction quality. 



Points of view or opinions stated in this 
document do not necessarily represent 
official OERI position or policy. 



PERMISSION TO REPRODUCE AND 
DISSEMINATE THIS MATERIAL HAS 
BEEN GRANTED BY 



TO THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES 
INFORMATION CENTER (ERIC) 



Directors: 

Jennifer M. Conner 
Ph. D. Indiana University 

Beth G. Greene 

Ph.D. New York University 

Paul Lloyd 

Ph.D. University of Adelaide, 

South Australia 

BEST COPY AVAILABLE 

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A Study of the Instructional Effectiveness 
of the Steck-Vaughn Phonics Program : 
Level A — Units 3 and 4 & Level B — Units 2 and 3 



This report describes a pilot study that was conducted to evaluate the instructional 
effectiveness of the Steck-Vaughn Phonics Program: Level A — Units 3 and 4 and Level 
B — Units 2 and 3. 



Background Information 

The Steck-Vaughn Company engaged the Educational Research Institute of America 
(ERIA) to conduct an independent study to evaluate the effectiveness of typical units in 
its phonics program. The initial study selected two units in each of two levels: A and B 
(Grade 1 and Grade 2). ERIA identified volunteer teachers to participate in the study; 
designed the assessments used in the study; and analyzed the data that were collected. 
The study described in this report was conducted in the spring of the 2000-2001 school 
year. 



Research Questions 

The following research questions guided the design, procedures, and data analysis of the 
pilot study: 

> Is the Steck-Vaughn Phonics Program instructionally effective? Do selected units 
significantly increase students ’ recognition of initial and final consonants, short 
and long vowels, and vowel digraphs? 

'y Is the Steck-Vaughn Phonics Program instructionally effective with those students 
who score at lower levels on a phonics assessment? Do selected units 
significantly increase these lower performing students ’ recognition of initial and 
final consonants, short and long vowels, and vowel digraphs? 



Design and Procedures of the Study 

Instructional Units Included in the Study 

Because this study was focused on the primary levels of the program, it was limited to 
grades 1 and 2. Level A — Units 3 and 4 were used in first grade. Level B — Units 2 and 3 
were used in second grade. These units were selected after consultation with the teachers 
about which units would best fit the reading objectives of schools at the time when the 
study was to be implemented. These units included the teaching of eight initial 
consonants, six final consonants, short vowels, long vowels, and vowel digraphs. 




Page 1 



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Steck- Vaughn Phonics Program Study 



Design of the Study 

A quasi-experimental pre-test-post-test design was used for the study. Eighteen first and 
second grade teachers in California, Illinois, and Florida volunteered to participate in the 
study. These teachers represent three different school districts. There were a total of 
approximately 400 students included in the study. 



These volunteer teachers had not previously used the Steck- Vaughn Phonics Program 
They administered the phonics tests developed by ERIA as pre-tests, taught the units 
designated from the Steck-Vaughn Phonics Program, and administered the post-tests 
after completing the instruction. 



The Phonics Assessments 



Experienced test developers at ERIA developed all of the assessments. The assessments 
for Level A (Grade 1) included Beginning Consonants, Final Consonants, and Short 
Vowels in three separated sub-tests. Each of the consonant sub-tests included 20 items; 
and the sub-test on vowels included 10 items. 



The Level B (Grade 2) assessment covered Short Vowels, Long Vowels, and Vowel 
Digraphs in three sub-tests — each with 20 items. 

The assessments sub-tests were developed to reflect the phoneme/grapheme relationships 
taught in the units used in the study. Also, the tests were designed to closely reflect the 
formats and emphases in several nationally administered standardized tests. All of the 
assessments were field tested for clarity for both teachers and students before they were 
used in the study. 

The classroom teachers administered the assessments before and after the selected units 
were taught. ERIA prepared specific instructions for teachers as to how the tests were to 
be administered. Table 1 provides an outline of the assessments that were developed. 



TABLE 1 

Data-Collection Instruments 



Assessment 


Sub-tests 


A 


Matching initial consonant graphemes and phonemes: b,j,k,n,p,s,t,w 
(20 items) 


A 


Matching final consonant graphemes and phonemes: b,kp,n,s,t (20 
items) 


A 


Matching short vowel graphemes and phonemes: o, i (10 items) 


A 


Total score (50 items) 


B 


Matching short vowel phonemes and graphemes: a,i,o,u, and e (20 
items) 


B 


Matching long vowel phonemes and graphemes: a,i,o,u, and e (20 
items) 


B 


Matching vowel digraph phonemes and graphemes: ai, ay, oa, oe, ow, 
ie, ea, and ee (20 items) 


B 


Total score (60 items) 




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Steck-Vaughn Phonics Program Study 



Instructional Procedures 

Following the pre-tests, the teachers taught the selected units using the Steck-Vaughn 
Phonics Books. Teachers were instructed to follow the suggested teaching procedures 
outlined in the Teacher’s Manual that accompanied each level of the program. ERIA 
established a toll-free telephone number for teachers to use if they had any questions 
regarding the instruction or the administration of the tests. 

The time spent in completing the units varied from two to four weeks, depending on the 
schools in the three states and on how the instruction fit into the schedules in each 
classroom. Thus, it is assumed that the study reflects a range of schedules that are 
typically used when the program is adopted in schools. 

Upon completion of the instruction using the selected units, students were administered 
the post-tests. All data collection-instruments were returned to ERIA where they were 
processed, scored, and analyzed. 

All of the assessments were scored by hand at ERIA. Ten percent of the assessments 
were re-scored to assure the reliability of the scoring process. The reliability of the 
scoring process was .99. The data were analyzed by grade levels across school districts. 

Two analyses were conducted. The first analyzed the pre- and post-test scores for all of 
the students who had taken both the pre- and post-tests. The second analysis included 
those students who scored the lowest on the pre-test. A paired sample t-test was used to 
statistically assess gain scores from pre-test to post-test for the all of the sub-tests as well 
as the total test scores. The results of the data analysis are presented within grades and by 
sub-tests in Tables 2 to 5 below. 

Results 

Table 2 shows the results of all the students in Grade 1 for whom pre- and post- test 
scores were available. 



TABLE 2 

Level A (Grade 1-All Students, N=173) 



Sub-test 


Pre- 

test 

Mean 


Pre- 

test 

SD 


Post-test 

Mean 


Post-test 

SD 


Diff. 


t-test 


Signif. 


Beginning 

Consonants 

(20 items) 


19.16 


1.92 


19.78 


1.17 


+.62 


.73 


<.001 


Final 

Consonants 

(20 items) 


18.32 ^ 


2.65 


19.62 


1.64 


+1.3 


7.00 


<.001 


Short 
Vowels (10 
items) 


8.15 


2.03 


9.34 


1.25 


+.1.19 


8.24 


<.001 


Total (50 
items) 


45.65 


5.28 


48.74 


1.8 


+3.09 


9.88 


<.001 




Page 3 



5 



Steck- Vaughn Phonics Program Study 



A second analysis was conducted by selecting all of those students whose pre-test total 
scores were 45 or less (out of a possible 50 points) These results are shown in Table 3. 



TAaLt 3 

Level A (Grade-1 Low Scoring Students, N=48) 



Sub-test 


Pre- 

test 

Mean 


Pre- 

test 

SD 


Post-test 

Mean 


Post-test 

SD 


Diff. 


t-test 


Sign if. 


Beginning 

Consonants 

(20 items) 


17.98 


3.2 


19.35 


1.17 


+1.37 


2.94 


<.001 


Final 

Consonants 

(20 items) 


15.98 


4.0 


19.0 


2.8 


+3.02 


5.51 


<.001 


Short 
Vowels (10 
items) 


5.91 


2.3 


8.8 


.40 


+.2.89 


9.14 


<.001 


Total (50 

items) 


39.88 


7.03 


47.08 


4.83 


+7.02 


9.42 


<.001 



Grade One Total Group Results: Of the approximately 200 students who were enrolled 
in the nine first grade classes, 1 73 had complete pre- and post-test scores. The mean 
scores for these 1 73 students for all of the sub-tests and the total test increased from pre- 
test to post-test. Moreover, all of the increases were statistically significant. These 
increases seem remarkable considering that the study was conducted in a relatively short 
period of time with teachers who received no special training in the implementation of 
the program. 



It should be noted that the average student scores on the pre-test were quite high. On the 
Beginning Consonants sub-test, for example, the average pre-test score was 19. 16 out of 
a possible 20 points. Despite this very high initial score, the increase on the post-test 
scores was statistically significant, indicating that the increase was consistent across all 
students. 



Grade One Low Scoring Group Results: The analysis of students whose average scores 
on the pre-test were 45 or less provides an indication as to how much these lower 
achieving students improved. There was a total of 48 students who completed both the 
pre- and the post-tests and whose average scores were 45 or less. Their raw score 
increases were more than twice as large as those for the total group. All of the increases 
were statistically significant. The total raw score increase was over seven raw score 
points, an increase that is quite large for a fifty item test. 




Page 4 



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Steck-Vaughn Phonics Program Study 



Table 4 shows the results of all the students in Grade 2 for whom pre- and post-test 
scores were available. 



TABLE 4 

Level B (Grade 2 — All Students, N=161) 



Sub-test 


Pre- 

test 

Mean 


Pre- 

test 

SD 


Post-test 

Mean 


1 

SD 


biff. 


t-test 


Signif. 


Short 
Vowels 
(20 items 


18.47 


2.28 


18.64 


2.17 


+.17 


1.06 


Non- 

Sig. 


Long 

Vowels 

(20 

items) 


14.62 


4.35 


16.18 


3.88 


+1.56 


5.10 


<.001 


Vowel 

Digraphs 

(20 

items) 


12.24 


5.45 


14.70 


4.15 


+2.46 


8.31 


<.001 


Total 

(60 

items) 


45.42 


10.09 


49.44 


8.51 


+4.02 


8.22 


<.001 



A second analysis was conducted by selecting all of those students whose pre-test total 
scores were 40 or less (out of a possible 60 points). These results are shown in Table 3. 



TABLE 5 

Level B (Grade 2 — Low Scoring Students, N=52) 



Sub-test 


Pre- 

test 

Mean 


Pre- 

test 

SD 


Post-test 

Mean 


Post-test 

SD 


Diff. 


t-test 


Signif. 


Short 
Vowels 
(20 items 


16.69 


3.17 


17.30 


2.98 


+.61 


1.43 


Non- 

Sig. 


Long 

Vowels 

(20 

items) 


9.7 


3.5 


13.46 


3.86 


+3.76 


5.84 


<.001 


Vowel 

Digraphs 

(20 

items) 


6.63 


3.40 


11.06 ] 


3.48 


+4.43 


10.18 


<.001 


Total 

(60 

items) 


33.06 


5.28 


41.69 


6.90 


+8.63 


11.19 


<.001 



er|c Page 5 



7 



Steck- Vaughn Phonics Program Study 



Grade Two Total Group Results: Of the approximately 200 students who were enrolled 
in the nine second grade classes, 161 had complete pre- and post-test scores. As with the 
first grade results, the mean scores increased for all of the sub-tests and the total test from 
pre-test to post-test. Moreover, all of the increases, except for the increase on the Short 
Vowels sub-test, were statistically significant. Again it should be pointed out that the 
teachers had no special training in the teaching of phonics and the study was conducted in 
relatively short period of time. 



The ceiling effect (students scoring very high on the pre-test and thus not being able to 
show much improvement on the post-test) was especially evident for the Short Vowels 
sub-test where the pre-test average score was 1 8.47 out of a possible 20 points. The most 
the pre-test scores could improve (on average) was 1 .53 points, and this would be 
possible only if every student had every answer correct on the post-test. Despite the 
ceiling effect on this sub-test, the scores did improve, although due to the high average 
score on the pre-test, the increase was slight. 

On the sub-tests where there were not such high pre-test score averages, and thus greater 
room to demonstrate improvement, the post-test scores were significantly higher. 

Grade Two Low Scoring Group Results: The analysis of students whose average scores 
on the pre-test were 40 or less provides an indication as to how much these lower 
achieving students improved. There was a total of 52 students who completed both the 
pre- and the post-tests and whose average scores were 40 or less. As with the first grade 
pre-test low scoring group, the second grade low scoring group increased their scores 
approximately twice as much as did the total group. All of the increases were statistically 
significant except for the Short Vowels where the increase was positive but not 
statistically significant. The total raw score increase was over eight raw score points, an 
increase that is quite large for a sixty item test. 

Summary of Results 

® After approximately three weeks of instructions, two groups of first and second grade 
students increased pre-test scores to post-test scores a statistically significant amount 
on 5 out of 6 sub-tests and on total test scores for both the first and second grade 
assessments. The increase at Grade 2 (using Level B) was greater than the increase at 
Grade 1 (using Level A). 

® An analysis of students who scored lowest on the pre-test indicated a much greater 
improvement than was shown for the entire group. For both the low scoring first 
graders and the low scoring second graders, the improvement was more than twice as 
great. These results indicate two things. First, if students score at very high levels on a 
pre-test, there is little room for improvement. Second, low scoring students improved 
at a very significant rate on a skill area that many reading educators believe is 
important to overall reading development. 




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Steck- Vaughn Phonics Program Study 



• On the single sub-test (second grade) where there was not a statistically significant 
improvement, there was evidence of a ceiling effect. Many students scored very high 
on this pre-test, leaving little room to register improvement. 

• All of the teachers reported that they were able to use the Steck-Vaughn Phonics 
Program without problems. 



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