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SAGE Publications

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Topics in Early Childhood Special Education

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Having strong alphabet knowledge early in life is a powerful predictor of long-term reading and academic outcomes. Upon tracking the alphabet knowledge of 172 children enrolled in their first year of Head Start, we identified that most of the children could name fewer than 10 letters at the beginning of the academic year. Approximately, one third of the children with low alphabet knowledge in fall made significant progress and demonstrated mastery of 10 or more letters in spring. For the children who started the year knowing fewer than 10 letters, receptive vocabulary was the best predictor of who would make gains in alphabet knowledge throughout the year. In addition, most children who entered Head Start knowing fewer than 10 letters knew letters from their first names and the letters A, B, or O. Implications for the management of emergent literacy skills for children at-risk for academic difficulties are discussed.


Accepted version. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, Vol. 38, No. 2 (April 3 2018) : 118-128. DOI. © 2018 SAGE Publications. Used with permission.

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