Bastianello, T., Brondino, M., Persici, V., & Majorano, M. (2022). A novel computer-based assessment tool for evaluating early literacy skills in Italian pre-schoolers. Journal of Research in Childhood Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/02568543.2022.2118913
The present contribution aims at presenting an assessment tool (i.e., the TALK-assessment) built to evaluate the language development and school readiness of Italian preschoolers before they enter primary school, and its predictive validity for the children’s reading and writing skills at the end of the first year of primary school. The early literacy competences of 98 preschoolers were assessed and the statistical proprieties (item difficulty level and Discrimination Index, and the factorial structure using Confirmatory Factor Analysis) of each subtest of the assessment were presented (Study 1). Results showed that the subtests of the tool have good psychometric properties, with the only exception of the morpho-syntactic comprehension task, and are adequate for use with preschoolers in the school context. Study 2 investigated the early literacy skills of a group of 62 preschoolers and their reading and writing abilities at the end of primary school 1st grade. The scores obtained in the phonological awareness task of the final version of the assessment in preschool significantly predicted children’s reading scores 12 months later, at primary school. The scores obtained in the lexical comprehension and morpho-syntactic production (i.e., sentence repetition) tasks of the final version of the assessment in preschool significantly predicted children’s writing scores 12 months later, at primary school. The assessment has specific characteristics that make it a valuable candidate for adoption in educational settings, both to identify fragile areas in time to modify the children’s developmental paths to literacy and to prevent future language and literacy difficulties at primary school.