Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Executive Ed.D. in Education Leadership Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Barbara Strobert, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Wendiann Sethi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Patricia Frey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Genelle Morris, Ed.D.


Pre-kindergarten, reading, early literacy, phonics, phoneme, systematic phonics, linguistic phonics, analytic phonics, and foundational skills


There is a gap in our understanding of effective early reading instructional approaches, particularly regarding identifying which specific core systematic phonics reading programs provide longer-lasting impact on literacy achievement. The purpose of this causal comparative study was to examine the effects of two distinct pre-kindergarten phonics programs, a linguistic phonics program and a basal phonics program, on short and long-term literacy outcomes. The overarching question addressed in this study was whether the type of literacy instruction in pre-kindergarten predicts outcomes in kindergarten and grade 3 and to what extent, if any, these relationships are moderated by demographic variables. More specifically, this study was undertaken to determine whether the type of literacy instruction in pre-kindergarten; a linguistic phonics reading program, Magic Penny (MP), and a basal phonics reading program, Houghton Mifflin (HM), impacts short and/or long-term literacy outcomes as measured by the DIBELS assessment in grade K and grade 3 and the New York State Test of Performance (NYSTP) in grade 3, and to what extent the effects (if any) are attributable to or modified by the demographic variables of gender, economic status, ELL, and race/ethnicity. A total of 594 students from approximately 30 Title 1 designated schools from a large school district in New York State were included in the study. The intervention group consisted of 297 students that received MP instruction in Pre-kindergarten in any of the years from 2009-10 through 2014-15; the control group consisted of 297 randomly selected pre-kindergarten students who received instruction in the HM Pre-Kindergarten literacy program. Binomial logistical regression was executed with extant data from the 594 pre-kindergarten students in order to predict short and long-term literacy outcomes. In this study the type of literacy instruction (MP vs. HM) in pre-kindergarten did not predict proficiency in DIBELS grade K (short-term effect) or grade 3 NYSTP (long-term effect), nor was there demonstrable improvement in the ability to predict if a student was proficient given the student characteristics. A significant difference in reading performance in grade three (long-term effect) between the two programs as measured by the grade 3 DIBELS assessment was demonstrated: Students who received the MP intervention were almost two times more likely to score proficient on the grade 3 DIBELS assessment than students instructed with HM in pre-kindergarten. Ethnicity was negatively correlated with performance for each ethnicity suggesting there are unmeasured factors other than race/ethnicity that overcome a negative effect of race on student’s performance on these assessments that are mitigated by the use of an instructional (linguistic) phonics program such as MP. Though no significant differences between the two reading programs were demonstrable in the foundational skills assessment DIBELS in kindergarten or in the NYSTP grade 3 summative assessment, the results of the foundational skills measured in grade 3 DIBELS are substantial enough to demonstrate the value of a linguistic phonics program such as Magic Penny. Magic Penny instruction in pre-kindergarten resulted in increased literacy achievement in grade 3 foundational literacy skills as well as mitigated the factors attributed to race.