A Three-Part Study Investigating the Validity of Universal Screeners in Kindergarten for Determining Long Term Academic Performance



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Background: Universal screening should be conducted in kindergarten to allow for the provision of early academic and social, emotional, and behavioral interventions (SEB), which are crucial for future success. There are numerous measures that can be used for this purpose, such as Acadience Reading for screening early literacy skills and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) for screening SEB skills. More research is needed on these measures when used in kindergarten, particularly with English Learners (ELs). Purpose: The overarching aim of this three-part study was to investigate the properties of the Acadience Reading early literacy screener and the SDQ SEB screener used in kindergarten with ELs and non-EL students. The purposes of the studies included: (1) investigate the predictive validity and diagnostic accuracy of the kindergarten Acadience Reading measures with third-grade standardized test scores in reading for ELs and non-ELs, (2) investigate the relationship between demographic variables and teacher ratings on the SDQ and determine the percentages of students identified as at risk using the SDQ recommended cut points and (3) identify profiles of kindergarten students and determine if significant differences in third-grade reading performance exist among the identified profiles. Methods: Data for all three studies were drawn from a universal screening project previously conducted at an early childhood campus (n = 272). Data analyses for the respective studies included (1) a multiple linear regression to predict STAAR scores based on the Acadience Reading subtests with EL status as an interaction term, and diagnostic accuracy statistics for ELs and non-ELs, (2) a negative binomial regression with ethnicity, EL status, and gender as independent variables and SDQ Total score as the dependent variable and the percentages of students identified as at-risk at each cut point, and (3) a latent class analysis using Acadience Reading, SDQ scores, and EL status and a multiple regression to evaluate effects of kindergarten risk group membership on third grade STAAR reading performance. Results: Results of the three respective studies revealed (1) Acadience Reading scores at the end of kindergarten significantly predicted third grade reading scores, EL status was not a significant predictor, and Acadience Reading provided moderate long-term diagnostic accuracy (Landry et al., 2021), and (2) EL status significantly predicted SDQ scores after controlling for ethnicity and gender, and using the Slightly Raised/Slightly Lowered cut point resulted in anticipated distributions of risk status based on the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) framework. Lastly, (3) Two latent classes were identified: high risk and low risk, and group membership significantly predicted third grade reading scores. Conclusion: Results of these studies indicate that kindergarten academic and SEB skills predict reading achievement in third grade, which further solidifies the connection between reading achievement and behavior and highlights the importance of early screening and intervention in both areas. Research should continue to investigate the use of these screeners with EL students, and practitioners and researchers should consider the cultural context when interpreting these measures with EL students. Continued examination of screeners allows for accurate identification of at-risk students and early intervention.



Universal screening, Early literacy screening, Social-emotional and behavioral screening, English learners, Kindergarten


Portions of this document appear in: Landry, Lindsey N., Milena Keller-Margulis, Michael Matta, Hanjoe Kim, Jorge E. Gonzalez, and G. Thomas Schanding Jr. "Long-term validity and diagnostic accuracy of kindergarten acadience reading with English learners." School Psychology Review 51, no. 4 (2022): 454-467.