Psychometric Profile of an Experimental Emergent Literacy Screener for Preschoolers

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Home literacy activities influence children’s emergent literacy progress and readiness for reading instruction. To help parents fulfill this opportunity, we developed a new Emergent Literacy Screener (ELS) and conducted 2 studies of its psychometric properties with independent prekindergarten samples. For Study 1 (n = 812, Mage = 54.4 months, 49.4% male, 46.1% white) exploratory factor analyses (EFA) supported a 5-factor structure. EFA and item calibration supported the removal of 10 items from the original 30 test items. The resultant 20-item ELS demonstrated good reliability (Cronbach’s alpha = .83) and significant positive correlation, r = .50, p < .001 with a standardized emergent literacy measure, Get Ready to Read – Revised. For Study 2 (n = 959, Mage = 53.5 months, 52.3% male, 60.3% white), confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) supported a bifactor model, which captured direct effects of 5 specific subfactors and an overarching emergent literacy factor. Using a cut score of 15, the ELS demonstrated moderate sensitivity (.71) and specificity (.61). Negative predictive value was high, whereas positive predictive value was low. Overall the ELS demonstrated acceptable psychometric characteristics for use by parents of prekindergarten children, providing a promising new tool for universal emergent literacy screening and an opportunity to identify where children are in their emergent literacy development. Implications for further research and practice are discussed.

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