Spanish-Speaking Children

Spanish-Speaking Children

Descubriendo la Lectura: An Early Intervention Literacy Program in Spanish

Escamilla, K. (1994). Literacy, Teaching and Learning: An International Journal of Early Literacy, 1(1), 57-70.

The purpose of this study was to determine if Descubriendo la Lectura (DLL) achieved results with Spanish-speaking first graders
that were equivalent to outcomes for Reading Recovery in English. Participants included all Spanish-speaking first graders receiving literacy instruction in Spanish in six elementary schools in an urban Arizona city (N=180). Four schools had DLL and two did not. Subjects for the study fell into three groups: (a) 23 DLL children; (b) a control group of 23 children who needed DLL but did not receive the intervention; and (c) a comparison group of all 134 children remaining in the sample. Measures included the Spanish Observation Survey and the Aprenda Reading Achievement Test administered in fall and spring.

At the end of first grade, DLL children had not only caught up to the comparison group on the Spanish Observation Survey, but surpassed them. Differences were significant on all tasks except Text Reading. DLL students also significantly outperformed the control group on all measures. On Aprenda, when standard scores were connected to percentiles, only the DLL and control groups made gains. In May, the DLL group was at the 41st percentile, the comparison group at the 31st percentile, and the control group at the 28th percentile.

The study provided positive evidence for the potential of the Descubriendo la Lectura (Reading Recovery in Spanish) intervention. Annual national data on DLL outcomes supported Escamilla’s findings. The author identified sample size as a limitation of the study and encouraged additional studies. She also concluded that while findings were encouraging for DLL students, the study raised questions about Spanish reading instruction within regular bilingual classrooms.

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