This project represents past work of the UNH Institute on Disability and is no longer active.
Granite Ladders was an experimental study of the effects of an early literacy preschool curriculum, Ladders to Literacy (Notari-Syverson, O'Connor, & Vadasy, 1998), on the language, pre-reading, and writing skills of young children living in poverty in New Hampshire. The project represented a collaborative effort between staff at the Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire and the Head Start program of Southern New Hampshire Services (SNHS), a Community Action Program with classrooms in Manchester, Nashua, and four nearby communities. Funded by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education, the project began in the fall of 2002 and continued until the spring of 2007.
In Year 1 (2002-03), project staff recruited 109 children from 12 randomly selected classrooms at SNHS's Head Start program. All classroom teachers used the Creative Curriculum (Dodge & Colker, 2000) to instruct children. Teachers in six classrooms were randomly assigned to an experimental condition, in which they adopted activities from the Ladders to Literacy curriculum to enhance language and early literacy instruction for children in their classrooms. Children's language, pre-reading, and writing skills were assessed by project staff using curriculum-based measures (in English and Spanish) and standardized, norm-referenced instruments. Project staff also conducted classroom observations, interviewed children's parents and teachers, and asked teachers to complete an academic and social-emotional rating form for each participating child in their classrooms.
This research design was repeated in Year 2 (2003-04) with 126 preschoolers from 14 randomly selected classrooms. Eleven of the 12 classrooms (i.e., six experimental and five control classrooms) from Year 1 continued participating in Year 2. One control classroom from Year 1 was replaced with another classroom in the same center. Two additional classrooms in the program were recruited at the start of Year 2. One was randomly assigned to the experimental condition and the other became a control classroom.
In Year 3 (2004-05), project staff tracked 123 of the 126 children from Year 2 as they made the transition to public or private kindergarten classrooms, remained at the Head Start program, enrolled in private day care, or were home-schooled. Project staff assessed the literacy and language skills of 101 children (82%), interviewed teachers, and asked teachers to complete an academic and social-emotional rating form for each participating child in their classrooms. Project staff also conducted a pilot study in the Head Start program, matching teachers with two years of experience working with the Ladders to Literacy curriculum (i.e., mentors) with teachers and classrooms who had yet to implement any of the curriculum's activities (i.e., protgs).
In Year 4 (2005-06), project staff conducted a pilot study with 15 teachers and ancillary staff across six classrooms of the Portsmouth Early Education Program in Portsmouth, NH. In Year 5 (2006-07), project staff was engaged in completing data analysis and generated a final report in the spring of 2007.
Dodge, D. T., & Colker, L. J. (2000). The Creative Curriculum for Early Childhood (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Teaching Strategies.
Notari-Syverson, A., O'Connor, R. E., & Vadasy, P. F. (1998). Ladders to Literacy: A preschool activity book. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.