12. Thompson, T., Tarver, T., & Woods, A. (2011b). Language and cognitive functioning of reading infants and toddlers: A call for very early written language enrichment. Houston, TX.
Your Baby Can (YBC) funded the studies, but Dr. Thompson was in control over all aspects of the study and manuscripts. In the previous studies, Dr. Thompson and colleagues used standardized measures to test the babies where the measures existed. Since infant reading is a developing interdisciplinary field, there are not yet any standardized tests with normative data. Traditional reading specialists may think that one of their established “pre-reading” tests such as naming the letters of the alphabet should have been used, but knowing the names of the letters of the alphabet may not even be related to one’s ability to read. Those types of “reading readiness” tests would not be a good measure of the babies’ actual reading abilities. There are numerous tests of that kind, but none of them measure actual reading abilities during infancy, so Dr. Thompson designed her own test.
Her test that was very similar to the test I made about a decade earlier (Titzer, 1998b). The test consisted of 20 words from the YBCR program. Ten pairs of words were presented two times each. The babies were asked to identify a spoken word while that word and another word from the program were shown. A total of 72 babies began the experiment – half were in the Your Baby Can Read Group and half were in the Control Group which was matched for socio-economic status.
The babies responded verbally or by pointing at the words, with some doing both. A double-blind testing procedure was used. The examiner was blind to the words on the cards. The backs were marked with an “A” or a “B.” The recording examiner could only see whether card “A” or “B” was selected. Verbal responses were recorded on the test form. The total raw score was a sum of the correct responses out of a total of a maximum of 20. The participating babies from the YBCR Group scored a mean of 17.17 correct out of 20 words. The control group did not appear to understand what a “written word” was and rarely responded to the test appropriately. The range of scores was 3 (out-of-20) to 20 (out-of-20). Some babies did not participate after several words and the testing was discontinued for those babies.
Babies who consistently used YBCR over the seven months selected the correct words about 85% of the time. Dr. Thompson also reports information about the babies reading novel words, but this happened spontaneously and was not formally tested.