Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A. DiTomasso, Ph.D., ABPP

First Advisor

Ray Christner, Psy.D., Chairperson

Second Advisor

Rosemary Mennuti, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Maria de la Luz Matus Mendoza, Ph.D. Robert


The family literacy model underlying the national Even Start Family Literacy Program has not fared well in large-scale evaluation studies, with outcomes showing minimal or no positive impact on later school achievement. However, the results of these studies have not been replicated in smaller studies, which hold the possibility of yielding richer and possibly more valid data using appropriate research design, methods, and techniques. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of an Even Start Family Literacy Program on the academic progress of a homogeneous group of ELL (English Language Learners) Hispanic immigrant elementary school-age children. Twenty-nine students were included in the study group (ACLAMO) and 33 in a control group that did not attend the program. The research was quasi-experimental, retrospective, and longitudinal. Demographic variables were surveyed. Parent literacy and involvement data were collected. Comprehensive language, reading, mathematics, and social emotional performance results were gathered from school records from kindergarten to fourth grade. Statistical analysis for group differences used Fisher's exact test for comparison of frequency distribution of categorical variables and independent t test for means comparison of numerical variables. Also, the Pearson correlation coefficient between parent literacy or involvement variables and academic performance data was calculated. Significance was set at p < .05 (two-tailed). The results of the study showed that students enrolled in the Even Start Family Literacy Program performed statistically significantly better in mathematics and language across grades, whereas the effect on reading was less significant. Overall, parent literacy and involvement variables correlated positively with selected language, reading, and mathematics performance variables, and negatively with social emotional behaviors. In summary, the current study showed that in a population of at risk Hispanic elementary school-age children, involvement in an Even Start Family Literacy Program, like ACLAMO, improves academic achievement. Educational and social interaction between parents and children and dual exposure to English and Spanish seem to be two important causal factors. The results support the hypothesis that educational interventions could induce positive changes in neuronal networks related to cognition.