Prediction and prevention of learning difficulty among kindergarten students
The Early Prevention of School Failure program purports to identify children ages 4 to 6 who are at risk for school failure and to remediate problem areas before the failure becomes apparent. Though the program enjoys widespread use and popular acclaim, its effectiveness has not been adequately demonstrated. Unlike many other preschool screening measures, EPSF has not been subjected to rigorous experimental scrutiny. This study was designed to (1) examine then assess the efficacy of the EPSF intervention component.Subjects were 116 kindergarten students in an Indiana public school district. Students were pretested on the PPVT-R, VMI, PLS, and MAS. Based on their test performance, students were classified at risk or not at predictive validity of the screening battery and risk in five skill areas: auditory perception, visual perception, language, fine motor, and gross motor. Experimental subjects received daily remedial instruction in each deficit area. Comparison subjects participated only in the regular kindergarten program. At the end of the year subjects were posttested on the EPSF battery. The Metropolitan Readiness Tests were administered as a measure of kindergarten success. In addition, teachers rated each student's overall achievement.Canonical analysis was performed to assess the predictive validity of the EPSF screening battery. Results indicated that 39% of the variability in kindergarten achievement could be explained by the synthetic predictor variable. The PPVT-R, PLS, and VMI were approximately equally weighted as predictors, with MAS scores adding little to the prediction equation.Analysis of covariance was applied to test the significance of the treatment effect after controlling for initial student differences. There was no difference at the .05 level between adjusted mean scores for experimental and comparison subjects. Children in regular kindergarten classes performed as well at the end of the year as those who received special remedial instruction in addition to the kindergarten curriculum.It was concluded that EPSF is as effective as many other kindergarten screening programs in predicting learning difficulty. Claims made regarding the program's prevention of such difficulty were not supported by the data.