Reading Development

Risk Factors for Reading Problems

Get the facts on risk factors for reading problems to help put all kids on the path to reading success, right from the start.

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Results & Outcomes

Kids in the Nemours BrightStart! Program Make Great Progress


Nemours BrightStart!, the first program of its kind in the nation, researches, develops and offers evidence-based tools targeting young children at risk for reading failure.

The goal is to effectively instruct children at the very beginning of their reading journey to ensure long-term reading success. We have proven that the foundation for successful reading is built in the early years, when a young child’s brain is highly responsive, adaptable and attuned to learning language.

Each year, our research has shown that the Nemours BrightStart! curriculum significantly improves the early literacy skills of prekindergarteners at risk for reading failure. Based on our long-term follow-up, we also have evidence that most of those at-risk children are making good progress with reading from kindergarten through third grade.

Since the beginning of Nemours BrightStart! in 2005:
  • Tens of thousands of prekindergarteners have been screened on early literacy skills, with thousands of at-risk children receiving Nemours BrightStart! intensive educational instruction.
  • Two-thirds of participating at-risk children who have received the Nemours BrightStart! educational instruction have moved to the typical range in their reading readiness skills.
  • At-risk prekindergarteners completing the Nemours BrightStart! intensive educational instruction gain an average of 114 percent on their reading readiness scores.

A Case Study: Getting Children Ready to Read

Nemours BrightStart! program helps close reading readiness gap in Florida’s Duval County Public Schools.

Now in its fifth year, the Nemours BrightStart! partnership with Florida’s Duval County Public School District continues to improve the reading readiness scores of pre-K students at risk for reading failure.

During the 2012-2013 school year, nearly 200 kids participated in the Nemours BrightStart! small-group enrichment program. By the end of the year, kids participating in the program saw a 125 percent gain in reading readiness scores, compared to a 32 percent gain by their peers who did not receive the intervention. The intervention helped to close the reading readiness performance gap noted in the beginning of the school year.

The eight-month intervention consisted of scripted, evidence-based, multisensory instruction provided by classroom teachers to promote skills like phonological awareness and alphabet knowledge that set the foundation for reading. The program aims to engage diverse learners as the interactive curriculum stimulates participants to use all of their senses in the learning experience. It also uses a unique approach to target children before they enter kindergarten, as research shows students who have strong reading readiness skills excel in reading when they enter K-12 school systems.

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2005-2010 School Years

Nemours BrightStart! is helping to close the reading achievement gap before children ever have a chance to fail.

The graph above shows two critical points:
  • How far behind the at-risk children are in their early literacy
    skills at the beginning of prekindergarten (fall pre-test average scores).
  • How much they close the gap and catch up after receiving the Nemours
    BrightStart! targeted instruction (spring post-test average scores).

Originally, Nemours BrightStart! staff solely provided our screening and instruction. In 2009, the Nemours BrightStart! delivery model added training for early childhood educators to conduct screenings and instruction using our curriculum (a capacity-building model approach).

These first capacity-building model projects occurred in:
  • Osceola County (Fla.) Public Schools
    (in conjunction with the Early Learning Coalition)
  • Diocese of St. Augustine Catholic Schools
    (Duval County, Fla.)
  • Duval County Public Schools (Fla.)

The results were surprising: The children in the capacity-building model groups averaged nearly 150 percent annualized gains in early literacy skills, actually surpassing the 114 percent historical benchmark average gain set by Nemours BrightStart! staff over four years of direct service.

When taught by their own teachers using Nemours BrightStart! curriculum, child outcomes exceeded expectations.