The Effect of the Fast Start Program on the Reading Achievement of Emergent and Beginning Readers: A Replication and Extention

Pamela R. Mears, George Fox University


This study replicated the Stevenson (2001) study to determine the effectiveness of the Fast Start parent tutoring program on student success in reading achievement. The current study attempted to enlarge the original study's sample size, include kindergarten students in the program, and determine the optimal length of training time for parents needed. Additionally, data gathered from the parent participants were analyzed including parent's perceptions of the program, their confidence level in tutoring their child, and the parents' level of mastery of the concepts of tutoring before working with their child.

At the beginning of the school year, 36 kindergarten parent-student dyads and 52 first grade parent-student dyads were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups or the control group for an 11-week study. Parents in the first treatment group received one hour of training and parents in treatment two received two hours of training. Students in both treatment groups received homework material published by Scholastic (Padak & Rasinski, 2005) consisting of poems and differentiated emergent and beginning reading activities and materials. Parents in the control group did not receive training and the students in the control group received poems to take home without the activities.

Fall pretest scores from Dynamic Indicators of Basic Literacy Skills (DIBELS) were compared to winter DIBELS scores. Raw score results did not show statistically significant reading gains for the treatment groups, however, more growth was evident in the treatment groups when the instructional recommendation level for each student and their level of being at risk was considered. Parents and students had favorable comments about the program. Parents receiving two training sessions had a higher level of confidence to tutor their child than those who attended only one session.