Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Dr. Kathleen S. Cooter

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert B. Cooter

Third Advisor

Dr. Theresa Magpuri-Lavell

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Grant Smith

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Marco Muñoz


The persistent achievement gap between children from low-socioeconomic and mid- to upper-socioeconomic homes is evident in both national and statewide literacy assessments. Although the summer months away from school are part of the problem, they also hold the potential for an effective solution. Interventions that accelerate literacy development during summer vacation, particularly for children of low-socioeconomic status, have the potential to shift the educational trajectory of our most at-risk students. We investigated the effect of a four-week summer oral language and literacy intervention on the literacy development of rising first grade students from at-risk elementary schools in Jefferson County Public School system located in Louisville, Kentucky. The participants included 95 rising first grade students attending the summer intervention; and 92 students eligible for attendance, but whose families did not register them for voluntary participation. Trained interventionists administered the six tasks of the Observation Survey (Clay, 2002, 2005) to both groups of students in May of their kindergarten year and again in August of their first grade year. The tasks included letter identification, a word test, concepts about print, hearing and recording sounds in words, writing vocabulary, and text level reading. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted with the posttest data to determine the effect of the summer intervention. The analysis indicated there were significant differences between the treatment and comparison groups in each of the six tasks, demonstrating a positive effect of the summer oral language and literacy intervention.