90

¡Preparados, Listos, Ya!:
An Interpretative Case Study Centered
on Teaching Hispanic Parents to Support
Early Bilingual Literacy Development
Prior to Kindergarten
Diane E. Lang, Ph.D.
Diane W. Gómez, Ph.D.
Suzanne M. Lasser, M.S.
Abstract/Resumen
A parent training program pilot designed and implemented to develop
early literacy skills of bilingual Hispanic pre-kindergarten students is
described and analyzed through a case study approach. The program
incorporated parent collaboration, bilingual literacy training and
accessible literary themes to improve literacy prior to kindergarten.
Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning- third edition
(DIAL-3) screening scores and qualitative evidence document the
program’s signifcant impact.
Se trata de un programa piloto de entrenamiento para padres, diseñado
y llevado a cabo para desarrollar la temprana capacidad de leer y
escribir de niños hispánicos preescolares, y que ha sido descrito y
analizado a través de un estudio monográfco. El programa incluyó la
colaboración de los padres, el entrenamiento para una alfabetización
bilingüe y temas literarios accesibles para mejorar dicha alfabetización
antes de entrar al jardín de infancia. Las puntuaciones mostradas por el
Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning- third edition
lang, gómez & lasser
9!
(DIAL-3) y la evidencia cualitativa documentan el signifcante impacto
del programa.
Keywords/Palabras claves: bilingual parent involvement, kindergarten
readiness, community-based literacy, achievement; colaboración de los
padres bilingües, preparación de jardín de infancia, alfabetismo basado
en la comunidad, rendimiento
Introduction
Many school districts in the United States (US) struggle to address the
needs of English language learners (ELLs) upon their arrival at school.
However, waiting until they enter school may be too late, especially for
ELLs that have other socio-economic and/or psychological factors that
conspire against achievement in school and the acquisition of English. For
example, some socio-economic factors that would affect school readiness
include: economic resources, immigration status, parents’ educational
level, geographic location (urban, suburban or rural), stability of family
unit and mobility. In order to try to address the needs of this population,
the Director of ELL Programs and several English to speakers of other
languages (ESOL) teachers in the City of Bronx River Falls, a small urban
school district in New York State, designed a program to teach parents
about the literacy skills needed for success in kindergarten.
The program is called the Kindergarten- Providing Academic
Skills and Strategies (K-PASS) Program and it has three steps. First, at
kindergarten registration which takes place in the spring prior to entrance
to kindergarten the following fall, incoming ELL kindergarteners in need
of literacy support and who speak Spanish are identifed. Second, the
parents of the identifed ELL kindergarteners participate in three literacy
strategy workshops, given in Spanish. Parents are encouraged to use the
literacy strategies taught in the workshops with their children during the
summer months. Third, in the fall, upon entrance to kindergarten, the
children are reassessed for the pre-requisite literacy skills known to be
necessary for literacy development in kindergarten. The project’s results
demonstrate a successful approach to remediating the achievement gap
of ELLs by involving parents in the learning process prior to formal
schooling in the US.
Theoretical Perspective
Schieffelin and Ochs (1986) write extensively about language
socialization. Schieffelin (1990) theorizes that through “the give and take
of everyday life” children experience language socialization. Essentially,
the K-PASS Program attempts to train parents to actively socialize children
towards early literacy skills, concepts and understandings. Theoretical
lang, gómez & lasser
92
frameworks developed by Schieffelin and Ochs (1986) were used to
interpret the impact of this school-orientated language socialization.
Drawing on foundations in anthropology, sociology, psychology and
linguistics, their theory is developed in two dimensions, “socialization
through the use of language” and “socialization to the use of language”
(Schieffelin & Ochs, 1986). Schieffelin and Ochs (1986) contend that
the task of researchers engaged in the study of language socialization
is to look for worldview— language connections as expressed through
forms and functions of language use. Through using this theoretical
framework, cultural information about schooling (within the content
of discourse and in the manner that it is organized) can be elucidated
(Schieffelin & Ochs, 1986). Through reviewing the evidence and data,
it was possible to theorize about some of the language socialization and
academic literacy skill development practices that contributed to a sense
of knowledge about schooling in the US and what parents could do to
support their kindergartener to improve readiness scores on standardized
measures experienced by the participants.
Literature Review
Much has been written about Hispanic students in the US. In order
to illuminate the fndings of this case study, three topics are synthesized.
They are: 1) Hispanic and bilingual students in the US, 2) achievement
gaps and early literacy, and 3) parents as literacy educators.
Hispanic and Bilingual Students in the US
The US has a long history of integrating immigrants and languages
into the greater society. Currently, the rate of immigration is at a historical
highpoint. Further, the number of Hispanic immigrants has increased
and the total percentage of Hispanic people in the US has dramatically
increased over the last decades. Illustrating this, Garcia and Cuéllar (2006)
reported, “the number of Hispanics increased from almost 3 million in
1976 to more than 4.5 million in 2000, an increase of 52%” (p. 2220).
The percentage of Hispanic people in the US is expected to continue to
grow. Hispanic students in the US tend to be at greater risk than other
groups for school-based problems and dropping-out of school. Hispanic
students in the US tend to lag in academic achievement relative to other
groups. Many of these children suffer the consequences of poverty, lack
of a print-rich environment prior to formal schooling and low levels of
parental literacy (Garcia & Miller, 2007; Krashen, 1999). Schools in the
US must consider and develop new practices and pedagogies that address
the needs of bilingual students, especially Hispanic students in need. This
is a particularly daunting task as state and national educational standards
have been raised in the US (Meyer, 2007).
¡PreParados, listos, ya! lang, gómez & lasser
9J
Children of immigrant parents face unique challenges when in school.
They must negotiate and transition to a school culture that may be different
than their home culture, norms and expectations. Bilingual children
are assimilating and learning in two (or more) linguistic and cultural
milieus. Parents’ notions of kindergarten readiness are developed through
experience and conversations with other community members. Okagaki
and Sternberg (1993) as well as Diamond, Reagan and Bandyk (2000)
documented that immigrant parents’ conceptualizations and expectations
about kindergarten readiness seemed different than that of parents born
and educated in the US. As parents’ views of schooling refect their culture,
experience and education, this view may be in sharp contrast to the views
and expectations of school staff in the US (Valdés, 1996).
In general, Hispanic culture cedes control of formal schooling to
schools and teachers. Teachers are revered. Interfering with schooling
or teaching would be seen as audacious. Many Hispanic parents feel that
they are responsible for teaching manners while school teachers should
teach academic content and skills. Bien educado is a term that can be
easily misinterpreted by a native English speaker who imagines that the
translation of the term must be “well educated.” This term has little to
do with academic skills but, instead, with behavior and manners.
In addition to the obvious potential challenges of a language barrier,
“many parents of ELLs lack some information and understanding
necessary to support parent-school collaboration” (Waterman & Harry,
2008, p. 6). There is often a misunderstanding of the expected roles
of parent involvement and parental support of their child’s education.
Therefore, inviting parents to join in the process of preparing their children
for school involves making the program welcoming and supportive in
their frst language while at the same time providing strong models of
home-based teaching strategies, academic content and materials that
schools in the US typically expect that in-coming kindergarteners would
have experienced. Further, Manyak (2007) reported that bringing ELLs’
community experience into school activities can promote engaging
literary activities.
Achievement Gaps and Early Literacy Readiness
The National Early Literacy Panel (NELP) reported “... there is
strong evidence for the importance of AK [alphabet knowledge], PA
[phonemic awareness], rapid naming tasks, ‘writing or writing name,’
and phonological STM [short term memory] as predictors of later reading
and writing skills” (2009, p. 79). Additionally, the NELP’s (2009) report
concluded, “meta-analysis of the impacts of home and parent programs
on the literacy skills of young children indicate that these interventions
yield a moderate to large effect on oral language outcomes and general
¡PreParados, listos, ya! lang, gómez & lasser
94
cognitive abilities” (p. 179). Likewise, Mercier Smith, Baker and
Santoro (2009) reported that phonological awareness instruction in the
child’s native language should be provided at different times during the
school day and that this can be accomplished through the use of parent
volunteers (p. 12).
Early literacy is developed at home and taught through ordinary daily
experiences by parents, grandparents and other caregivers. Genessee
(2008) emphasized that the oral language developed at home is crucial
for critical thinking. Cummins (1981) observed that if children are from
homes where family members and caregivers are not literate in their
native language (L1) the children have diffculty becoming literate in
the L1 and subsequently experience challenges becoming literate in
the second language (L2). Krashen (1999) wrote that children typically
acquire their native language in a natural environment and school is the
place where children learn the formalities of language. He further argued
that without a well-developed L1, children cannot transfer language skills
to their L2. First language literacy is a critical foundation for literacy in
English (Cummins, 2009; Krashen, 1999).
Cummins (1999, 2009) describes language profciency as two skill
sets. They are basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS) and
cognitive academic language profciency (CALP). Children who have
well developed BICS can use this foundation to learn and hone CALP,
which is required for successful engagement and achievement in school.
Immigrant children may or may not have well developed BICS upon
entering kindergarten. If a child has poorly developed BICS in their
L1, the challenge of learning CALP in L2 can be an overwhelming
challenge.
Parents as Literacy Educators
Parents are crucial as literacy educators. Studies in California (US)
have documented improved early literacy when Spanish-speaking parents
become aware of home and community based routines and activities that
promote literacy and school success (Dail & McGee, 2008; Gilliam,
Gerla, & Wright, 2004; Roberts, 2008). Research suggests that “young
children develop literacy in the context of their homes and communities”
(Gilliam et al., 2004, p. 226). The development of emergent literacy
skills and knowledge is essential for success in school. Parents as
children’s frst teachers can foster emergent literacy skills, knowledge
and orientations.
There are six means for parents to engage in and to influence
schooling; these are: parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning
at home, decision making and collaborating (Hill & Flynn, 2006).
When schools develop programs and curricula that address all types of
¡PreParados, listos, ya! lang, gómez & lasser
95
involvement, everyone benefts. Efforts to actively engage immigrant
parents in the processes, routines, expectations and joys of schooling in
the US break down cultural barriers and create opportunity for all.
Methods
An interpretative approach was used to conduct and analyze this case
study. Mixed methods were used, though qualitative research methods
were drawn upon heavily. A range of artifacts were collected and coded
including K-PASS instructional materials, photographs, program grant
applications and presentation materials. Interviews with key informants
were conducted. Program data including family demographics, program
participation and student achievement were analyzed statistically.
Additionally, the program was observed in action and feld notes were
written and analyzed. Interpretative case studies are designed to “to
develop conceptual categories or illustrate, support, or to challenge
theoretical assumptions held prior to the data gathering” (Merriam, 1988,
p. 28). According to Willis (2007) interpretative case studies require a
diverse array of data/evidence and are centered on understanding social
settings and experience. As such, this was a highly appropriate choice
for a study that aimed to look at family language practices, parental
engagement in schooling and school-based literacy achievement in the
context of an innovative school program for ELLs. Data were collected
over a 2-year period and included demographic and achievement data
from the year before the data collection processes began.
Research Questions
1. Did teaching parents to be coaches of early literacy skills and
concepts in Spanish (L1) improve children’s literacy development
as measured on the language subtest on the DIAL-3 and district
benchmarks on the DRA?
2. Did parent participation in program components (meetings and
home activities) improve the child’s literacy development as
measured on the language subtest on the DIAL-3?
3. What other impacts on literacy and school readiness can be
observed within the program components?
Participants
Children were identifed as being in need based on pre-kindergarten
enrollment evaluations and a home language survey. The DIAL-3 is a
developmental screening. It was given to all of the children in the district
as part of the school enrollment process in order to identify children
in need of more specifc diagnostic assessment and possible academic
intervention. The DIAL-3 was administered in English, except when the
¡PreParados, listos, ya! lang, gómez & lasser
96
child’s English profciency was limited and the child’s L1 was Spanish.
Children scoring below the 30
th
percentile on the language subtest (in
English or Spanish) who also had no formal school experiences (nursery
school, pre-kindergarten, etc.) prior to kindergarten enrollment were
invited to participate in the K-PASS Program. These children demonstrated
a lag in their L1 development and it was theorized, drawing on Cummins
(1991, 2008) and Krashen (1999),that this underdevelopment would make
learning L2 challenging for them. It was further theorized that if parents
could be coached to include literacy practices into the “give and take of
everyday life” that their children would perform better in kindergarten
and beyond (Schieffelin, 1990).
Twelve families enrolled in the program. All were bilingual Spanish-
speaking immigrants to the US with various levels of English profciency.
The teachers that conducted the training all were fully certifed teachers
with master’s degrees in teaching English to speakers of other languages
and profcient in Spanish and English.
Program Design and Implementation
The program had several components. These included: a parental
commitment to participate, a series of three parent workshops taught
in Spanish, three workshops for children, pre and post-participation
testing protocols, and bilingual academic materials that were given to
the families. The parents of these students signed a contract agreeing to
attend all the workshops and to allow their children to retake the DIAL-3
in the fall to measure their progress. The parents were required to register
for the workshops. Their children were invited and strongly encouraged
to attend the workshops with their parents. Lastly, the parents agreed to
participate in a post-workshop survey.
K-PASS Interpretative Case Study
K-PASS Program
With a small budget but strong theoretical and practical foundations,
a team of educators developed a program that shows promise for the
many ELL students that arrive in US kindergartens each year. The
interpretative case study that follows documents the program, its impact,
and the study’s relevance to other educators interested in supporting early
literacy development for ELL students.
Early literacy skills are a necessary foundation for students’ success
in kindergarten and beyond. The Director of ESOL programs and three
ESOL teachers in Bronx River Falls, a small urban school district in
New York State, created a series of hands-on parent training workshops
focusing on early literacy skills and strategies. These workshops
were designed to help students acquire the basic literacy skills and
¡PreParados, listos, ya! lang, gómez & lasser
97
background knowledge necessary to succeed in kindergarten and frst
grade by teaching their parents to use home-based learning strategies
and materials.
In the spring preceding entrance to kindergarten, parents must register
their students for kindergarten in the city of Bronx River Falls. As part of
the enrollment process, all children in the district are given the DIAL-3
to identify children in need of literacy intervention. The district found
that many children for whom English is a second language were lagging
behind in literacy skills before entering kindergarten. The demands
of kindergarten in the US have increased in recent years. Instead of
kindergarten being an educational environment designed to teach pre-
literacy skills, kindergarten programs today are typically based in the
assumption that students have mastered pre-literacy skills and are ready
for literacy instruction. Prior to the K-PASS Program, ELL students
who score below the 30 percentile on the DIAL-3 do not receive any
extra intervention other than the regular kindergarten program until they
reached frst grade. Therefore, these children were facing an uphill battle
to become profcient readers and successful in school. Their achievement
gap tended to persist and deepen.
Educators in Bronx River Falls were aware that many ELL students
arrived to kindergarten without the prerequisite skills of their English-
profcient counterparts. Drawing on their knowledge about readiness
skills being a predictor of success in literacy profciency, facility of
native language literacy transferring to second language literacy, and the
importance of including Hispanic parents as partners in the American
educational process, the Bronx River Falls educators set out to ameliorate
the academic achievement gap prior to student entrance to kindergarten.
Together, they wrote a grant to develop a program, the K-PASS Program,
to address the readiness needs of the incoming Spanish-speaking ELLs
and presented it to the district’s staff development center. This program
included workshops for parents during the spring and summer before
their children were to enter kindergarten. The grant was accepted and
the program was given $1,500.00 USD for implementation.
The school year in New York State starts in September and runs until
June. In May and June all children entering kindergarten in the following
September register for school and are screened to assess development and
health. For this particular program, families were invited to participate
based on kindergarten enrollment screenings and evaluations. Children
who appeared to lack BICS and basic CALP in their native language
and their parents participated in a series of June workshops focusing
on strategies for the development of specifc literacy skills. During the
workshops, school district teachers provided parents with teacher-created
materials and modeled how to use these materials with their children.
¡PreParados, listos, ya! lang, gómez & lasser
98
Parents were also expected to practice these literacy activities at home
during June, July and August and were provided with opportunities
to share their experiences with each other. Children whose families
participated in the sessions were reassessed in September to measure
the program’s impact.
The program involved three 90 minute workshop sessions conducted
in Spanish during the month of June prior to the children’s September
entrance to kindergarten. The curriculum included three thematic units
of study with an overarching focus on family literacy activities that
could be done every day. The themes were entitled: What’s in a Name,
All Around Town, and Shapes and Colors. Drawing from the state and
local kindergarten curriculum standards and research on early literacy
development, academic content and skills were selected and embedded
in the thematic curricula. Teachers worked with parents to assure that the
children could identify their frst and last name, names of family members,
letter names, colors and shapes. Additionally, certain readiness skills were
taught such as book handling, holding a pencil and cutting paper. Finally,
beginning reading foundations such as being able to listen to a picture
book and recall details, using the pictures to understand the story, and
knowing the direction of the text, were targeted. Specifc outcomes were
discussed with parents and then strategies for mastering these outcomes
with children were modeled. Parents were given books, materials and
ideas for using the strategies at home and in the community.
Bronx River Falls, New York is a small, culturally diverse city
with 60,000 residents. The district’s demographics are: 34 % European
American, 42 % Hispanic, 20% African American, 3% Asian American
and 1% other groups. There were 6671 students enrolled in the district
during the 2007-08 academic year, of which 1117 were students identifed
as ELLs. The number of bilingual students is actually much higher than
this number as this statistic includes only students not yet profcient in
English who are still receiving English as a Second Language (ESL)
instruction. Ninety percent of the ELLs speak Spanish.
The Pilot Program Statistical Analysis (2007-08 School Year)
The program pilot began with parent literacy workshops conducted
June of 2007. There were 12 families enrolled. The parents of all 12
students in the pilot signed a contract agreeing to attend all the workshops
and to allow their children to retake the DIAL-3 in the fall to measure their
progress. When comparing the May and June kindergarten enrollment
screening administration of DIAL-3 scores (prior to the program) and
the September DIAL-3 scores after the program of the 12 participating
children, 67% had improved scores. Of those, 50% of the children
improved their scores signifcantly, while 17% made minimal gains
¡PreParados, listos, ya! lang, gómez & lasser
99
(see Figure 1). Two children (17%) had no change and two children
(17%) scored lower on the second test administration. Student number
8 was referred for special education services and subsequently received
special services.
Figure 1. Cohort 1 pre scores spring 2007 and post scores
fall 2007 of the DIAL-3 measured in percentiles (n = 12).
The ESOL teacher commented, “Most children seemed much more
ready to participate in kindergarten after the K-PASS program. Based on
classroom observation, even the children that did not show improvement
in their age-normed scores on the DIAL-3 in actuality seemed more ready
for the curriculum after the program than when we frst met them.” In
sum, more than half had very signifcant gains in their scores by fall.
Training parents in Spanish to be coaches of early literacy skills and
concepts appeared to improve the children’s literacy development as
measured on the language subtest of the DIAL-3.
At the end of kindergarten, the school district’s required benchmark
for all kindergarteners is a score of at least 2 on the Developmental
Reading Assessment (DRA) and a score of 3 for the fall of frst grade.
Cohort 1 was tested in the spring of kindergarten and again in the fall of
frst grade, a year after the K-PASS intervention. As Figure 2 shows, 6 of
the 12 students (50%) reached or exceeded the district wide benchmark
of 2 on the DRA in the spring of kindergarten. At the beginning of frst
grade, all 12 reached the benchmark of 2, and 50% reached the required
benchmark of 3. Since it has been documented that students typically
regress in their academic reading abilities over the summer months, these
results are signifcant (Arlington, 2006).
¡PreParados, listos, ya! lang, gómez & lasser
!00
Figure 2. Cohort 1 spring 2008 and fall 2008 DRA scores (n =
12, mortality: student 8 attended special education classes,
score unavailable).
To investigate whether parents’ participation in their child’s literacy
development improved the child’s development, two forms of data are
presented, the participation of the parents in the training workshops and
the parent survey given after the children began kindergarten. Three
parent workshop sessions were offered. The parent participation in the
required workshops represented willingness and “comfortableness” with
the school and the workshops. All 12 families participated in at least 1 of
the 3 workshops: 100% attended 1 workshop, 75% attended 2 workshops
and 25% attended all 3.
Though it is recognized that the small sample size (n = 12) makes
generalizations diffcult and fndings must be viewed with caution, the
preliminary academic achievement results are encouraging. A number
of analyses were performed on the data from the pilot (Cohort 1) sample
data. These analyses included Kendall’s Tau-b, Stuart’s Tau-c and
Spearman’s correlation. The dependant variable was the DIAL-3 scores
and the independent variable was parental involvement, as measured by
participation in the workshops. While short of the preferred .05 level of
signifcance, analyses revealed statistical signifcance at the .074, .062,
and .081 levels for each of these tests respectively. This suggests that the
differences in the student’s language subtest scores on the DIAL-3 may
in fact be positively infuenced by the participation rates of parents.
The parent survey was conducted via telephone with 5 of Cohort 1
K-PASS parents in the fall. The bilingual parent survey contained 10
questions that fell into 3 categories: the activities, the literacy skill level
their child had reached, and their participation in their child’s education.
The last category, participation in the education of their child, was most
¡PreParados, listos, ya! lang, gómez & lasser
!0!
revealing. All of the parents surveyed responded affrmatively to the
question, are you interested in learning more about how to help your
child at home? One parent responded, “Me gustaría participar en más
talleres” (I would like to participate in more workshops). Four of the 5
parents interviewed had visited their child’s school in the fall or attended
the fall semester Back-to-School Night (school orientation meeting). The
5 parents also expressed their intention to attend the upcoming parent-
teacher conferences.
The open-ended comments of the parent survey expressed satisfaction
with the program and an awareness of literacy education. One parent
commented, “Muy satisfecha. Aprendí cómo la comunidad es importante
para la enseñanza” (I’m very satisfed. I learned how community is
important for teaching). Another parent stated, “Interesante. Nos ayudó
a enseñarles a nuestros hijos” (Interesting. It helped us to teach our
children). Yet others replied, “Vi el progreso de mi hijo” (I saw my child’s
progress), “Muy infomativos” (Very informative) and “Un programa
valoroso” (A very valuable program). It appears that the K-PASS program
was a stimulus for the crucial positive relationship between home and
school.
The Second Cohort (2008-09 School Year) Statistical Analysis
The successes of the pilot K-PASS program were shared with the
school district administration and the program was expanded. In the fall
of the 2008-09 school year the program served 25 children as a regular
part of the school district’s offerings. There are plans to research how
the children and families negotiate schooling and achievement as they
participate in the elementary schools in the district. The preliminary data
for the second cohort are compelling: 92% of the students improved their
raw scores on the post administration of the DIAL-3, while 2 of the 25
participants (8%) scored lower on the post screening than on the pre-
intervention screening. Additionally, the frequency of parent participation
increased: 100% of the parents participated in 1 of the 3 training sessions,
96% attended two sessions and 4% (one parent) attended one session.
K-PASS Program Case Summary
Two cohorts have experienced the K-PASS program in the summer
prior to entering kindergarten. Data and observations of the program paint
a vivid portrait of a program dedicated to improving the ways literacy
practices can be embeded into the fabric of daily family life and yield
school-based results.
¡PreParados, listos, ya! lang, gómez & lasser
!02
Discussion and Implications for Educators
This interpretative case study of a pilot program targeted to help
immigrant bilingual parents understand what is expected of an incoming
kindergartener in schools in the US by actively teaching parents how to
be teachers of early literacy skills in the home provides a glimpse of the
tremendous potential of the K-PASS Program and other such programs
designed to incorporate parents in literacy readiness processes. With
a very small investment of money and time, the program was able to
document signifcant gains in school-readiness in the area of literacy.
Training parents to be teachers of early literacy skills and concepts
in Spanish (L1) seemed to improve children’s literacy and kindergarten
readiness as measured on the language subtest of the DIAL-3. Although
the pilot program and study were small, with 12 families participating,
the improved literacy readiness as measured by the DIAL-3 was
impressive. Furthermore, the second K-PASS cohort yielded improved
literacy readiness with 25 families participating. This success does
seem to echo the results of studies done in California where this type
of support yielded very positive results (Gilliam, Gerla, & Wright,
2004). Additionally, it may help avoid having children misdiagnosed
as having learning disabilities rather than identifed as having gaps in
foundational knowledge (Bernard, Cummins, Campoy, Ada, Winsler,
& Bleiker, 2006).
Following participation in the K-PASS parent workshops, some
worldviews and language connections changed for parents. During and
after the workshops parents were visibly different in their approaches to
literacy and language development. During the workshops parents shared
the ways that they played literacy games with their children and used
the literacy materials distributed. Parents appeared willing to discuss
questions and ideas about their children’s learning and participation in the
upcoming schooling with the ESOL teacher and instructional specialist.
As well, they began to dialogue with each other as a community of
literacy supporters. The parents started to see literacy as something they
could teach their children. Weaving literacy practice into each day was
achievable. Also, they connected with school staff in a meaningful way
that would facilitate future learning. Parents experienced an evolution in
their view of schooling and their potential role as educational supporters
or coaches to their children. This represents a signifcant shift in their
worldview and language connections.
The program directly seeks to expand parents’ enactment of language
socialization processes at home and in community. The teachers’ active
modeling of strategies for looking at and reading picture books was
notable. The practice of teaching a literacy activity, structuring a home-
based practice, and then following up in the subsequent workshop to
¡PreParados, listos, ya! lang, gómez & lasser
!0J
debrief and discuss the activity seemed effective and contributed to
parental knowledge. ESOL teachers and instructional specialist wove
discussions of the importance of using Spanish with children, notions
of bilingualism, and information about how schools in the US work
into every activity. This allowed parents to hear similar information in
different forums. This cyclical discussion provided parents with multiple
opportunities to synthesize information and ask questions. The teachers’
supportive and positive tone helped to transform the parents’ cultural
vision of maestra to the more familiar American style of a teacher,
and addressing the teacher by her frst name. Such familiarity with the
school staff who will be teaching their children created a social space for
addressing the challenges ahead as the children enter kindergarten and
further develop their BICS and CALP in Spanish and English.
In terms of inspiring children of immigrants to participate in schooling
in the US, it is critical to support parents in their growing knowledge
of the expectations of the school systems. Additionally, by providing
native language support to parents and helping them to understand the
prevailing public vision for the education of their bilingual youngsters,
greater academic success for all bilingual children is assured.
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of the K-PASS
teachers for their dedication to the K-PASS Program. As well, the authors
would like to acknowledge the assistance that Julia Gómez provided to
the research team.
References
Arlington, R. L. (2006). What really matters for struggling readers:
Designing research-based programs (2
nd
ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn
& Bacon.
Bernard, J. K., Cummins, J., Campoy, F. I., Ada, A. F., Winsler, A.,
& Bleiker, C. (2006). Identity texts and literacy development
among preschool English language learners: Enhancing learning
opportunities for children at risk for learning disabilities. Teachers
College Record, 108, 2380-2405.
Cummins, J. (2009, January 23). The challenge of learning academic
English: Research-based instruction for language and literacy
development. PowerPoint presented at the Teacher Institute,
sponsored by the NYSED Offce of Bilingual Education and
Foreign Languages Studies and the NYC Network of NYS
BETACs (New York State Bilingual Educational Technical
Assistance Centers), Fordham University, NY.
¡PreParados, listos, ya! lang, gómez & lasser
!04
Cummins, J. (1981). Empirical and theoretical underpinnings of
bilingual education, Journal of Education, 163(1) 16-29.
Dail, A. R. & McGee, L. M. (2008). Transition to kindergarten:
Reaching back to preschoolers and parents through shared summer
school. Childhood Education, 84(5), 305-310. Retrieved February
21, 2009, from the ProQuest database.
Diamond, K. E., Reagan, A. J. & Bandyk, J. E. (2000). Parents’
conceptions of kindergarten readiness: Relationships with race,
ethnicity, and development. The Journal of Educational Research,
94, 93-100.
Garcia, E. E. & Cuéllar, D. (2006). Who are these linguistically and
culturally diverse students? Teachers College Record, 108(11),
2220-2246.
Garcia, E. E. & Miller, L. S. (Eds.) (2007). An introduction to this
special thematic issue. Journal of Latinos and Education, 6(3),
205-208.
Genesee, F. (2008, December 3). Learning to read a second language:
What does the research say and what do we do about it?
PowerPoint and podcast delivered via TESOL Virtual Seminar.
Gilliam, B., Gerla, J. B. & Gary Wright, G. (2004). Providing minority
parents with relevant literacy activities for their children. Reading
Improvement, 41, 226-234.
Hill, J. D. & Flynn, K. M. (2006). Classroom instruction that works
with English language learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for
Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Krashen, S. (1999). Condemned without a trial: Bogus arguments
against bilingual education. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Manyak, P. C. (2007). A framework for robust literacy instruction of
English learners. The Reading Teacher, 61, 197-9.
Mercier Smith, J. L., Baker, D., & Santoro, L. (2009). Early
intervention in bilingual education: Teaching phonological
awareness in Spanish (La enseñanza de la concienca fonémica en
español). NABE News, 31(2), 5-6, 9-14, & 27-28.
Merriam, S. (1988). Case study research in education: A qualitative
approach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Meyer, L. M. (2007). Methods, meanings, and educational policy
in the United States. In J. Cummins & C. Davison (Eds.),
¡PreParados, listos, ya! lang, gómez & lasser
!05
International handbook of English language teaching (pp. 211-
230). New York: Springer.
National Institute for Literacy. (2009). Developing early literacy: A
scientifc synthesis of early literacy development and implications
for intervention. National Early Literacy Panel. Retrieved
February 19, 2009 from www.nif.gov
Okagaki, L., & Sternberg, R. J. (1993). Parental beliefs and children’s
early school performances. Child Development, 64(1), 36-56.
Roberts, T. A. (2008). Home storybook reading in primary or second
language with preschool children: Evidence of equal effectiveness
for second-language vocabulary acquisition. Reading Research
Quarterly, 43(2), 103–130.
Schieffelin, B. B. (1990). The give and take of everyday life:
Language socialization of Kaluli. New York: Cambridge
University Press.
Schieffelin, B. B., & Ochs, E. (1986). Language socialization. Annual
Review of Anthropology, 15, 163-191.
Valdés, G. (1996). Con respecto: Bridging the distance between
culturally diverse families and schools: An ethnographic portrait.
New York: Teachers College Press.
Waterman, R., & Harry, B. (2008). Building collaboration between
schools and parents of English language learners: Transcending
barriers, creating opportunities. NCCREST. Retrieved March
1, 2009 from http://www.ncrest.org/Briefs/PractionerBrief
BuildingCollaboration.pdf
Willis, J. W. (2007). Foundations of qualitative research:
Interpretative and critical approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Publications.
Diane E. Lang, Ph.D. is assistant professor of early childhood
and childhood education at Manhanttanville College in Purchase,
New York. Her research interests include feld-based teacher
education, play and learning, educational anthropology, and
bilingual language socialization. She is passionate about society
addressing the needs of bilingual children. Her own children are
among the 20% of American children who are bilingual. Email:
langd@mville.edu
¡PreParados, listos, ya! lang, gómez & lasser
!06
Diane W. Gómez, Ph.D. is assistant professor of teaching English
to speakers of other languages (TESOL) and special education at
Manhanttanville College in Purchase, New York. She earned her
doctorate from Fordham University in curriculum and teaching
in the areas of language, literacy and learning. With over 30 years
experience at all school levels in the metropolitan New York
area teaching Spanish, special education and TESOL, she offers
teacher candidates pragmatic skills with theoretical foundations.
A proponent of bilingual education, her research interests include
heritage speakers of Spanish, differentiated instruction, teacher
training and multicultural education. Email: gomezd@mville.
edu
Suzanne M. Lasser, M.S. is the director of English Language
Learners (ELLs) Programs K-12 for the White Plains City School
District in White Plains, New York. She has worked as both an ESL
teacher and school administrator. In 2003, she received National
Board Certifcation in early and middle childhood English as
a new language. Her interests include newcomer centers, dual
language programs, and innovative program models designed
to support the diverse needs of ELLs. Email: suzannelasser@
wpcsd.k12.ny.us
¡PreParados, listos, ya!

the parents of the identified ELL kindergarteners participate in three literacy strategy workshops. given in Spanish. the K-PASS Program attempts to train parents to actively socialize children towards early literacy skills. Theoretical 91 . waiting until they enter school may be too late. at kindergarten registration which takes place in the spring prior to entrance to kindergarten the following fall. achievement. Keywords/Palabras claves: bilingual parent involvement. concepts and understandings. parents’ educational level. in the fall. alfabetismo basado en la comunidad. preparación de jardín de infancia. kindergarten readiness. colaboración de los padres bilingües. the Director of ELL Programs and several English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) teachers in the City of Bronx River Falls. The project’s results demonstrate a successful approach to remediating the achievement gap of ELLs by involving parents in the learning process prior to formal schooling in the US. Theoretical Perspective Schieffelin and Ochs (1986) write extensively about language socialization. immigration status. geographic location (urban. incoming ELL kindergarteners in need of literacy support and who speak Spanish are identified. upon entrance to kindergarten. First. Second. stability of family unit and mobility.Providing Academic Skills and Strategies (K-PASS) Program and it has three steps. However. Essentially. Parents are encouraged to use the literacy strategies taught in the workshops with their children during the summer months. designed a program to teach parents about the literacy skills needed for success in kindergarten. gómez & lasser (DIAL-3) y la evidencia cualitativa documentan el significante impacto del programa. The program is called the Kindergarten.lang. In order to try to address the needs of this population. a small urban school district in New York State. For example. Schieffelin (1990) theorizes that through “the give and take of everyday life” children experience language socialization. the children are reassessed for the pre-requisite literacy skills known to be necessary for literacy development in kindergarten. community-based literacy. rendimiento Introduction Many school districts in the United States (US) struggle to address the needs of English language learners (ELLs) upon their arrival at school. especially for ELLs that have other socio-economic and/or psychological factors that conspire against achievement in school and the acquisition of English. suburban or rural). some socio-economic factors that would affect school readiness include: economic resources. Third.

2) achievement gaps and early literacy. cultural information about schooling (within the content of discourse and in the manner that it is organized) can be elucidated (Schieffelin & Ochs. psychology and linguistics. The percentage of Hispanic people in the US is expected to continue to grow. 2007). ya! frameworks developed by Schieffelin and Ochs (1986) were used to interpret the impact of this school-orientated language socialization. Further. and 3) parents as literacy educators. Hispanic and Bilingual Students in the US The US has a long history of integrating immigrants and languages into the greater society. 1986). Literature Review Much has been written about Hispanic students in the US. “socialization through the use of language” and “socialization to the use of language” (Schieffelin & Ochs. 2007. Hispanic students in the US tend to lag in academic achievement relative to other groups. lack of a print-rich environment prior to formal schooling and low levels of parental literacy (Garcia & Miller. Through using this theoretical framework.5 million in 2000. Schools in the US must consider and develop new practices and pedagogies that address the needs of bilingual students. Many of these children suffer the consequences of poverty. an increase of 52%” (p. their theory is developed in two dimensions. Schieffelin and Ochs (1986) contend that the task of researchers engaged in the study of language socialization is to look for worldview— language connections as expressed through forms and functions of language use. They are: 1) Hispanic and bilingual students in the US. In order to illuminate the findings of this case study.¡PreParados. Krashen. 92 . three topics are synthesized. “the number of Hispanics increased from almost 3 million in 1976 to more than 4. sociology. Illustrating this. Garcia and Cuéllar (2006) reported. especially Hispanic students in need. This is a particularly daunting task as state and national educational standards have been raised in the US (Meyer. Through reviewing the evidence and data. listos. 1999). 1986). 2220). the number of Hispanic immigrants has increased and the total percentage of Hispanic people in the US has dramatically increased over the last decades. Hispanic students in the US tend to be at greater risk than other groups for school-based problems and dropping-out of school. Drawing on foundations in anthropology. it was possible to theorize about some of the language socialization and academic literacy skill development practices that contributed to a sense of knowledge about schooling in the US and what parents could do to support their kindergartener to improve readiness scores on standardized measures experienced by the participants. Currently. the rate of immigration is at a historical highpoint.

lang. In general. Additionally. experience and education. Therefore. norms and expectations. p. Further.. gómez & lasser Children of immigrant parents face unique challenges when in school. the NELP’s (2009) report concluded. Bilingual children are assimilating and learning in two (or more) linguistic and cultural milieus. 2008. Parents’ notions of kindergarten readiness are developed through experience and conversations with other community members. there is strong evidence for the importance of AK [alphabet knowledge]. Hispanic culture cedes control of formal schooling to schools and teachers. academic content and materials that schools in the US typically expect that in-coming kindergarteners would have experienced.. “meta-analysis of the impacts of home and parent programs on the literacy skills of young children indicate that these interventions yield a moderate to large effect on oral language outcomes and general 93 . this view may be in sharp contrast to the views and expectations of school staff in the US (Valdés. Teachers are revered. inviting parents to join in the process of preparing their children for school involves making the program welcoming and supportive in their first language while at the same time providing strong models of home-based teaching strategies. “many parents of ELLs lack some information and understanding necessary to support parent-school collaboration” (Waterman & Harry. with behavior and manners. Manyak (2007) reported that bringing ELLs’ community experience into school activities can promote engaging literary activities.’ and phonological STM [short term memory] as predictors of later reading and writing skills” (2009. ‘writing or writing name. Bien educado is a term that can be easily misinterpreted by a native English speaker who imagines that the translation of the term must be “well educated. Reagan and Bandyk (2000) documented that immigrant parents’ conceptualizations and expectations about kindergarten readiness seemed different than that of parents born and educated in the US. As parents’ views of schooling reflect their culture. Achievement Gaps and Early Literacy Readiness The National Early Literacy Panel (NELP) reported “. There is often a misunderstanding of the expected roles of parent involvement and parental support of their child’s education. rapid naming tasks.” This term has little to do with academic skills but. Many Hispanic parents feel that they are responsible for teaching manners while school teachers should teach academic content and skills. In addition to the obvious potential challenges of a language barrier. 1996). They must negotiate and transition to a school culture that may be different than their home culture. 6). instead. Okagaki and Sternberg (1993) as well as Diamond. 79). p. Interfering with schooling or teaching would be seen as audacious. PA [phonemic awareness].

Studies in California (US) have documented improved early literacy when Spanish-speaking parents become aware of home and community based routines and activities that promote literacy and school success (Dail & McGee. Early literacy is developed at home and taught through ordinary daily experiences by parents. Likewise. communicating. 2006). They are basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS) and cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP). decision making and collaborating (Hill & Flynn. 179). 12). Baker and Santoro (2009) reported that phonological awareness instruction in the child’s native language should be provided at different times during the school day and that this can be accomplished through the use of parent volunteers (p. Children who have well developed BICS can use this foundation to learn and hone CALP. 2009) describes language proficiency as two skill sets. Parents as children’s first teachers can foster emergent literacy skills. 2004. 2004. Parents as Literacy Educators Parents are crucial as literacy educators. knowledge and orientations. grandparents and other caregivers. children cannot transfer language skills to their L2. Research suggests that “young children develop literacy in the context of their homes and communities” (Gilliam et al. the challenge of learning CALP in L2 can be an overwhelming challenge. Mercier Smith. Roberts. If a child has poorly developed BICS in their L1. 2008). 1999). 2008. ya! cognitive abilities” (p. Krashen.. There are six means for parents to engage in and to influence schooling. learning at home. The development of emergent literacy skills and knowledge is essential for success in school. Genessee (2008) emphasized that the oral language developed at home is crucial for critical thinking. listos. When schools develop programs and curricula that address all types of 9 . Gerla. Immigrant children may or may not have well developed BICS upon entering kindergarten.¡PreParados. & Wright. volunteering. Gilliam. Cummins (1999. First language literacy is a critical foundation for literacy in English (Cummins. 2009. p. He further argued that without a well-developed L1. 226). Krashen (1999) wrote that children typically acquire their native language in a natural environment and school is the place where children learn the formalities of language. which is required for successful engagement and achievement in school. Cummins (1981) observed that if children are from homes where family members and caregivers are not literate in their native language (L1) the children have difficulty becoming literate in the L1 and subsequently experience challenges becoming literate in the second language (L2). these are: parenting.

28).lang. As such. this was a highly appropriate choice for a study that aimed to look at family language practices. Efforts to actively engage immigrant parents in the processes. Interpretative case studies are designed to “to develop conceptual categories or illustrate. Methods An interpretative approach was used to conduct and analyze this case study. The DIAL-3 is a developmental screening. It was given to all of the children in the district as part of the school enrollment process in order to identify children in need of more specific diagnostic assessment and possible academic intervention. support. parental engagement in schooling and school-based literacy achievement in the context of an innovative school program for ELLs. 1988. The DIAL-3 was administered in English. everyone benefits. Mixed methods were used. Program data including family demographics. What other impacts on literacy and school readiness can be observed within the program components? Participants Children were identified as being in need based on pre-kindergarten enrollment evaluations and a home language survey. the program was observed in action and field notes were written and analyzed. A range of artifacts were collected and coded including K-PASS instructional materials. gómez & lasser involvement. Additionally. Did teaching parents to be coaches of early literacy skills and concepts in Spanish (L1) improve children’s literacy development as measured on the language subtest on the DIAL-3 and district benchmarks on the DRA? 2. Data were collected over a 2-year period and included demographic and achievement data from the year before the data collection processes began. except when the 9 . Did parent participation in program components (meetings and home activities) improve the child’s literacy development as measured on the language subtest on the DIAL-3? 3. or to challenge theoretical assumptions held prior to the data gathering” (Merriam. According to Willis (2007) interpretative case studies require a diverse array of data/evidence and are centered on understanding social settings and experience. though qualitative research methods were drawn upon heavily. program participation and student achievement were analyzed statistically. expectations and joys of schooling in the US break down cultural barriers and create opportunity for all. routines. Interviews with key informants were conducted. photographs. Research Questions 1. program grant applications and presentation materials. p.

These workshops were designed to help students acquire the basic literacy skills and 9 .that this underdevelopment would make learning L2 challenging for them. The parents of these students signed a contract agreeing to attend all the workshops and to allow their children to retake the DIAL-3 in the fall to measure their progress. Twelve families enrolled in the program. Children scoring below the 30th percentile on the language subtest (in English or Spanish) who also had no formal school experiences (nursery school. Program Design and Implementation The program had several components. its impact. The interpretative case study that follows documents the program. three workshops for children. The teachers that conducted the training all were fully certified teachers with master’s degrees in teaching English to speakers of other languages and proficient in Spanish and English. created a series of hands-on parent training workshops focusing on early literacy skills and strategies. Lastly. The parents were required to register for the workshops. pre and post-participation testing protocols. ya! child’s English proficiency was limited and the child’s L1 was Spanish. Early literacy skills are a necessary foundation for students’ success in kindergarten and beyond. drawing on Cummins (1991. K-PASS Interpretative Case Study K-PASS Program With a small budget but strong theoretical and practical foundations.¡PreParados. etc. listos. Their children were invited and strongly encouraged to attend the workshops with their parents. All were bilingual Spanishspeaking immigrants to the US with various levels of English proficiency. and the study’s relevance to other educators interested in supporting early literacy development for ELL students. a series of three parent workshops taught in Spanish. and bilingual academic materials that were given to the families. pre-kindergarten. a team of educators developed a program that shows promise for the many ELL students that arrive in US kindergartens each year. These children demonstrated a lag in their L1 development and it was theorized. 1990). a small urban school district in New York State. the parents agreed to participate in a post-workshop survey. The Director of ESOL programs and three ESOL teachers in Bronx River Falls. These included: a parental commitment to participate. 2008) and Krashen (1999). It was further theorized that if parents could be coached to include literacy practices into the “give and take of everyday life” that their children would perform better in kindergarten and beyond (Schieffelin.) prior to kindergarten enrollment were invited to participate in the K-PASS Program.

facility of native language literacy transferring to second language literacy. the K-PASS Program. During the workshops. Educators in Bronx River Falls were aware that many ELL students arrived to kindergarten without the prerequisite skills of their Englishproficient counterparts. 9 . to address the readiness needs of the incoming Spanish-speaking ELLs and presented it to the district’s staff development center. they wrote a grant to develop a program. and the importance of including Hispanic parents as partners in the American educational process. As part of the enrollment process. the Bronx River Falls educators set out to ameliorate the academic achievement gap prior to student entrance to kindergarten. ELL students who score below the 30 percentile on the DIAL-3 do not receive any extra intervention other than the regular kindergarten program until they reached first grade. parents must register their students for kindergarten in the city of Bronx River Falls. For this particular program. The district found that many children for whom English is a second language were lagging behind in literacy skills before entering kindergarten. In May and June all children entering kindergarten in the following September register for school and are screened to assess development and health. these children were facing an uphill battle to become proficient readers and successful in school. Instead of kindergarten being an educational environment designed to teach preliteracy skills. Children who appeared to lack BICS and basic CALP in their native language and their parents participated in a series of June workshops focusing on strategies for the development of specific literacy skills. school district teachers provided parents with teacher-created materials and modeled how to use these materials with their children. The school year in New York State starts in September and runs until June. Drawing on their knowledge about readiness skills being a predictor of success in literacy proficiency. The grant was accepted and the program was given $1. Prior to the K-PASS Program. kindergarten programs today are typically based in the assumption that students have mastered pre-literacy skills and are ready for literacy instruction. Together. In the spring preceding entrance to kindergarten. gómez & lasser background knowledge necessary to succeed in kindergarten and first grade by teaching their parents to use home-based learning strategies and materials. This program included workshops for parents during the spring and summer before their children were to enter kindergarten.00 USD for implementation.500. all children in the district are given the DIAL-3 to identify children in need of literacy intervention. Their achievement gap tended to persist and deepen. Therefore. The demands of kindergarten in the US have increased in recent years.lang. families were invited to participate based on kindergarten enrollment screenings and evaluations.

of which 1117 were students identified as ELLs.000 residents. and Shapes and Colors. using the pictures to understand the story. 42 % Hispanic. The program involved three 90 minute workshop sessions conducted in Spanish during the month of June prior to the children’s September entrance to kindergarten. New York is a small. culturally diverse city with 60. Specific outcomes were discussed with parents and then strategies for mastering these outcomes with children were modeled. holding a pencil and cutting paper. colors and shapes. The themes were entitled: What’s in a Name. 3% Asian American and 1% other groups. There were 12 families enrolled. and knowing the direction of the text. 67% had improved scores. The curriculum included three thematic units of study with an overarching focus on family literacy activities that could be done every day. The number of bilingual students is actually much higher than this number as this statistic includes only students not yet proficient in English who are still receiving English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction. Of those. beginning reading foundations such as being able to listen to a picture book and recall details. names of family members. The Pilot Program Statistical Analysis (2007-08 School Year) The program pilot began with parent literacy workshops conducted June of 2007. The parents of all 12 students in the pilot signed a contract agreeing to attend all the workshops and to allow their children to retake the DIAL-3 in the fall to measure their progress. materials and ideas for using the strategies at home and in the community. Teachers worked with parents to assure that the children could identify their first and last name. Bronx River Falls. letter names. while 17% made minimal gains 98 . Additionally. 20% African American. academic content and skills were selected and embedded in the thematic curricula. 50% of the children improved their scores significantly. ya! Parents were also expected to practice these literacy activities at home during June. Ninety percent of the ELLs speak Spanish. When comparing the May and June kindergarten enrollment screening administration of DIAL-3 scores (prior to the program) and the September DIAL-3 scores after the program of the 12 participating children. There were 6671 students enrolled in the district during the 2007-08 academic year. The district’s demographics are: 34 % European American. All Around Town. Finally. Drawing from the state and local kindergarten curriculum standards and research on early literacy development. listos. July and August and were provided with opportunities to share their experiences with each other. certain readiness skills were taught such as book handling. were targeted. Children whose families participated in the sessions were reassessed in September to measure the program’s impact.¡PreParados. Parents were given books.

Cohort 1 pre scores spring 2007 and post scores fall 2007 of the DIAL-3 measured in percentiles (n = 12). Training parents in Spanish to be coaches of early literacy skills and concepts appeared to improve the children’s literacy development as measured on the language subtest of the DIAL-3. gómez & lasser (see Figure 1). Two children (17%) had no change and two children (17%) scored lower on the second test administration.” In sum. The ESOL teacher commented. 2006). Cohort 1 was tested in the spring of kindergarten and again in the fall of first grade. “Most children seemed much more ready to participate in kindergarten after the K-PASS program. As Figure 2 shows. the school district’s required benchmark for all kindergarteners is a score of at least 2 on the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) and a score of 3 for the fall of first grade. Student number 8 was referred for special education services and subsequently received special services. even the children that did not show improvement in their age-normed scores on the DIAL-3 in actuality seemed more ready for the curriculum after the program than when we first met them. Figure 1.lang. Based on classroom observation. At the beginning of first grade. 99 . more than half had very significant gains in their scores by fall. all 12 reached the benchmark of 2. Since it has been documented that students typically regress in their academic reading abilities over the summer months. At the end of kindergarten. a year after the K-PASS intervention. these results are significant (Arlington. and 50% reached the required benchmark of 3. 6 of the 12 students (50%) reached or exceeded the district wide benchmark of 2 on the DRA in the spring of kindergarten.

Though it is recognized that the small sample size (n = 12) makes generalizations difficult and findings must be viewed with caution. The parent survey was conducted via telephone with 5 of Cohort 1 K-PASS parents in the fall. score unavailable). the literacy skill level their child had reached. two forms of data are presented. While short of the preferred . . Cohort 1 spring 2008 and fall 2008 DRA scores (n = 12. Stuart’s Tau-c and Spearman’s correlation. All 12 families participated in at least 1 of the 3 workshops: 100% attended 1 workshop.05 level of significance. the preliminary academic achievement results are encouraging. The bilingual parent survey contained 10 questions that fell into 3 categories: the activities. 75% attended 2 workshops and 25% attended all 3. analyses revealed statistical significance at the . This suggests that the differences in the student’s language subtest scores on the DIAL-3 may in fact be positively influenced by the participation rates of parents. mortality: student 8 attended special education classes.081 levels for each of these tests respectively. The dependant variable was the DIAL-3 scores and the independent variable was parental involvement. The parent participation in the required workshops represented willingness and “comfortableness” with the school and the workshops. 100 To investigate whether parents’ participation in their child’s literacy development improved the child’s development. as measured by participation in the workshops. These analyses included Kendall’s Tau-b. and their participation in their child’s education. and .062. A number of analyses were performed on the data from the pilot (Cohort 1) sample data. the participation of the parents in the training workshops and the parent survey given after the children began kindergarten. participation in the education of their child. The last category. Three parent workshop sessions were offered.074. ya! Figure 2. was most .¡PreParados. listos.

“Me gustaría participar en más talleres” (I would like to participate in more workshops). Aprendí cómo la comunidad es importante para la enseñanza” (I’m very satisfied. 96% attended two sessions and 4% (one parent) attended one session. “Muy infomativos” (Very informative) and “Un programa valoroso” (A very valuable program). “Muy satisfecha. “Interesante. Another parent stated. It helped us to teach our children). I learned how community is important for teaching). are you interested in learning more about how to help your child at home? One parent responded. while 2 of the 25 participants (8%) scored lower on the post screening than on the preintervention screening. All of the parents surveyed responded affirmatively to the question. the frequency of parent participation increased: 100% of the parents participated in 1 of the 3 training sessions. It appears that the K-PASS program was a stimulus for the crucial positive relationship between home and school. “Vi el progreso de mi hijo” (I saw my child’s progress).lang. The Second Cohort (2008-09 School Year) Statistical Analysis The successes of the pilot K-PASS program were shared with the school district administration and the program was expanded. The 5 parents also expressed their intention to attend the upcoming parentteacher conferences. 101 . One parent commented. Yet others replied. Nos ayudó a enseñarles a nuestros hijos” (Interesting. There are plans to research how the children and families negotiate schooling and achievement as they participate in the elementary schools in the district. Data and observations of the program paint a vivid portrait of a program dedicated to improving the ways literacy practices can be embeded into the fabric of daily family life and yield school-based results. K-PASS Program Case Summary Two cohorts have experienced the K-PASS program in the summer prior to entering kindergarten. The preliminary data for the second cohort are compelling: 92% of the students improved their raw scores on the post administration of the DIAL-3. The open-ended comments of the parent survey expressed satisfaction with the program and an awareness of literacy education. Four of the 5 parents interviewed had visited their child’s school in the fall or attended the fall semester Back-to-School Night (school orientation meeting). Additionally. gómez & lasser revealing. In the fall of the 2008-09 school year the program served 25 children as a regular part of the school district’s offerings.

ya! Discussion and Implications for Educators This interpretative case study of a pilot program targeted to help immigrant bilingual parents understand what is expected of an incoming kindergartener in schools in the US by actively teaching parents how to be teachers of early literacy skills in the home provides a glimpse of the tremendous potential of the K-PASS Program and other such programs designed to incorporate parents in literacy readiness processes. some worldviews and language connections changed for parents. During the workshops parents shared the ways that they played literacy games with their children and used the literacy materials distributed. Additionally. structuring a homebased practice. Weaving literacy practice into each day was achievable. listos. This success does seem to echo the results of studies done in California where this type of support yielded very positive results (Gilliam. The practice of teaching a literacy activity. As well. Parents experienced an evolution in their view of schooling and their potential role as educational supporters or coaches to their children. & Wright. Cummins. With a very small investment of money and time. the improved literacy readiness as measured by the DIAL-3 was impressive. Winsler.¡PreParados. Campoy. 2004). the second K-PASS cohort yielded improved literacy readiness with 25 families participating. the program was able to document significant gains in school-readiness in the area of literacy. Training parents to be teachers of early literacy skills and concepts in Spanish (L1) seemed to improve children’s literacy and kindergarten readiness as measured on the language subtest of the DIAL-3. with 12 families participating. Following participation in the K-PASS parent workshops. Gerla. it may help avoid having children misdiagnosed as having learning disabilities rather than identified as having gaps in foundational knowledge (Bernard. Furthermore. This represents a significant shift in their worldview and language connections. The program directly seeks to expand parents’ enactment of language socialization processes at home and in community. 2006). & Bleiker. and then following up in the subsequent workshop to 102 . The teachers’ active modeling of strategies for looking at and reading picture books was notable. During and after the workshops parents were visibly different in their approaches to literacy and language development. The parents started to see literacy as something they could teach their children. Ada. Also. Although the pilot program and study were small. Parents appeared willing to discuss questions and ideas about their children’s learning and participation in the upcoming schooling with the ESOL teacher and instructional specialist. they began to dialogue with each other as a community of literacy supporters. they connected with school staff in a meaningful way that would facilitate future learning.

January 23). MA: Allyn & Bacon.. Cummins. Winsler. Fordham University. C. Boston. PowerPoint presented at the Teacher Institute. ESOL teachers and instructional specialist wove discussions of the importance of using Spanish with children. by providing native language support to parents and helping them to understand the prevailing public vision for the education of their bilingual youngsters. A. 2380-2405. it is critical to support parents in their growing knowledge of the expectations of the school systems. and information about how schools in the US work into every activity. K. Teachers College Record. gómez & lasser debrief and discuss the activity seemed effective and contributed to parental knowledge. sponsored by the NYSED Office of Bilingual Education and Foreign Languages Studies and the NYC Network of NYS BETACs (New York State Bilingual Educational Technical Assistance Centers). Identity texts and literacy development among preschool English language learners: Enhancing learning opportunities for children at risk for learning disabilities. F. (2006).. and addressing the teacher by her first name. Acknowledgements The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of the K-PASS teachers for their dedication to the K-PASS Program. F.. A. the authors would like to acknowledge the assistance that Julia Gómez provided to the research team. References Arlington. In terms of inspiring children of immigrants to participate in schooling in the US.. greater academic success for all bilingual children is assured. NY. Additionally. 103 . The teachers’ supportive and positive tone helped to transform the parents’ cultural vision of maestra to the more familiar American style of a teacher. Bernard. 108. J. notions of bilingualism. (2009.. L. Such familiarity with the school staff who will be teaching their children created a social space for addressing the challenges ahead as the children enter kindergarten and further develop their BICS and CALP in Spanish and English. J. This allowed parents to hear similar information in different forums. & Bleiker.lang. What really matters for struggling readers: Designing research-based programs (2nd ed. Cummins. R. The challenge of learning academic English: Research-based instruction for language and literacy development. Campoy.). As well. This cyclical discussion provided parents with multiple opportunities to synthesize information and ask questions. Ada. J. (2006). I.

Learning to read a second language: What does the research say and what do we do about it? PowerPoint and podcast delivered via TESOL Virtual Seminar.. Portsmouth. E.. Dail. & Cuéllar. A. (2007). & Santoro. Childhood Education. J. Baker. 2220-2246.¡PreParados. Reagan. (2008). B. NH: Heinemann. NABE News.. & Miller. J. meanings. VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. & Bandyk. Merriam. Hill. D. E. K. E. ya! Cummins. December 3). B. 94. L. Genesee. 108(11). L. Methods. (2004). 61. F. Case study research in education: A qualitative approach. Retrieved February 21. R. K. G. 31(2). The Journal of Educational Research. A framework for robust literacy instruction of English learners. D. and development. 5-6. J.. L. (2000). Journal of Education. E. & Flynn. M. 41. Providing minority parents with relevant literacy activities for their children. Krashen. In J.). S. J. listos. (2006). Parents’ conceptions of kindergarten readiness: Relationships with race. Diamond. S. 163(1) 16-29. 197-9. Davison (Eds. Gerla. D. C. The Reading Teacher. M. P. Transition to kindergarten: Reaching back to preschoolers and parents through shared summer school. Who are these linguistically and culturally diverse students? Teachers College Record. & McGee. & 27-28. L. (Eds. (2006). and educational policy in the United States. Garcia. Gilliam. San Francisco. Alexandria. (1988). (1999). Mercier Smith. CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers. 93-100. Manyak. Garcia. 2009. J. Condemned without a trial: Bogus arguments against bilingual education.) (2007). Journal of Latinos and Education. S. A. Empirical and theoretical underpinnings of bilingual education. (2007). Cummins & C. Reading Improvement. An introduction to this special thematic issue. 10 . E. from the ProQuest database. L. & Gary Wright. (2009). (1981). (2008. 305-310. ethnicity. 226-234. E. M. Meyer. Classroom instruction that works with English language learners. Early intervention in bilingual education: Teaching phonological awareness in Spanish (La enseñanza de la concienca fonémica en español). J. 9-14. 6(3). 84(5). 205-208.

Valdés. Schieffelin. T. 163-191. New York. (2009). Schieffelin. Developing early literacy: A scientific synthesis of early literacy development and implications for intervention. 36-56.. A. Annual Review of Anthropology. Lang. (2007). W. (1990). 2009 from http://www. R. Retrieved March 1. New York: Cambridge University Press. & Ochs. Home storybook reading in primary or second language with preschool children: Evidence of equal effectiveness for second-language vocabulary acquisition. B. Child Development. L. J. play and learning.edu 10 . 64(1).lang. (1986). Building collaboration between schools and parents of English language learners: Transcending barriers. educational anthropology. R. G. & Sternberg. E. Diane E. New York: Springer. B. 2009 from www. CA: Sage Publications. The give and take of everyday life: Language socialization of Kaluli. is assistant professor of early childhood and childhood education at Manhanttanville College in Purchase. (2008). B. Con respecto: Bridging the distance between culturally diverse families and schools: An ethnographic portrait. Email: langd@mville.pdf Willis. gómez & lasser International handbook of English language teaching (pp. (1996). & Harry. Foundations of qualitative research: Interpretative and critical approaches. and bilingual language socialization.ncrest. B. 43(2).nifl. NCCREST. (1993). Waterman. Roberts. Parental beliefs and children’s early school performances.org/Briefs/PractionerBrief BuildingCollaboration. J. Ph. She is passionate about society addressing the needs of bilingual children. National Institute for Literacy.gov Okagaki. 211230). Retrieved February 19. Reading Research Quarterly. B. New York: Teachers College Press.. creating opportunities. 103–130. Language socialization. National Early Literacy Panel. 15. Thousand Oaks. Her own children are among the 20% of American children who are bilingual. Her research interests include field-based teacher education. (2008)..D.

she received National Board Certification in early and middle childhood English as a new language. literacy and learning. Email: gomezd@mville. Ph. M. Email: suzannelasser@ wpcsd.D.ny. is assistant professor of teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) and special education at Manhanttanville College in Purchase. With over 30 years experience at all school levels in the metropolitan New York area teaching Spanish. Gómez. She has worked as both an ESL teacher and school administrator. special education and TESOL. differentiated instruction. listos. She earned her doctorate from Fordham University in curriculum and teaching in the areas of language. New York. dual language programs. her research interests include heritage speakers of Spanish.S.¡PreParados. New York. Lasser.k12. edu Suzanne M.us 10 . Her interests include newcomer centers. teacher training and multicultural education. In 2003. A proponent of bilingual education. is the director of English Language Learners (ELLs) Programs K-12 for the White Plains City School District in White Plains. ya! Diane W. and innovative program models designed to support the diverse needs of ELLs. she offers teacher candidates pragmatic skills with theoretical foundations.