Evaluating the efficacy of the Headsprout© reading program with children who have spent time in care

Catherine Storey, Claire McDowell, Julian Leslie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
284 Downloads (Pure)


This study investigated whether Headsprout©, an internet‐based phonics program designed on behavioral principles, is an effective supplementary tool to improve literacy skills of children who have spent time in care and are at risk of reading failure. Participants were 8 children (aged 5 to 10) who had spent over 3 years in care and were fully adopted at the time of the study. Participants' literacy skills were assessed prior to intervention using 2 standardized reading attainment tests. Participants were then randomly assigned to either treatment or a waiting list comparison group. There were 2 Headsprout© treatments, but all participants in the treatment group completed 1 HeadsproutStartCopTextStartCopText© lesson 4 times per week, under the supervision of the first author, while participants in the comparison group interacted with the first author 4 times per week engaging in nonliteracy‐based computer activities. Results from 2 standardized reading attainment tests showed an improvement in word recognition age and oral reading fluency for the HeadsproutStartCopTextStartCopText© learners but scores either remained the same or decreased over a 4‐month period for participants in the comparison group. The findings support the wider use of HeadsproutStartCopTextStartCopText© with at‐risk children though more research is clearly warranted at this time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-293
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioral Interventions
Issue number3
Early online date2 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 9 Jul 2017


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