Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Janet Bufalino


Some children struggle to learn the academic skill of reading. Providing effective assistance to struggling students, especially to English Language Learners (ELLs), can be a challenge for teachers. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of childcare programs on the reading achievement of ELLs in kindergarten and first grade. Vygotsky's sociocultural theory along with developmentally appropriate practices constituted the theoretical framework. The overarching research question examined differences in overall reading achievement of ELLs based on the completion of formal childcare programs. A causal-comparative design was used with a cluster sample drawn from a United States federal database of 3,214 ELLs divided into 2 groups: children who participated in formal childcare (FC) programs and those with no formal childcare (NFC). Four independent-samples t tests were performed to compare reading achievement of FC and NFC participants from the fall 2010 kindergarten class (FC n = 1,348, NFC n = 1,414), spring 2011 kindergarten class (FC n = 1,485, NFC n = 1621), fall 2011 first grade class (FC n = 650, NFC n = 698), and spring 2012 first grade class (FC n = 1,482, NFC n = 1,622). Using the Bonferonni method to reduce Type I errors due to familywise analyses, the a priori alpha level decreased to 0.0125. ELL students who participated in formal preschool childcare programs achieved higher scores in reading throughout kindergarten and first grade. Based on these findings, a project was developed for family childcare providers to use to facilitate literacy development. Positive social change may result from ensuring that more children begin kindergarten and first grade with a foundation of reading skills needed for ongoing learning and academic success.