Using Headsprout With Children With Down Syndrome: Effects on Decoding Skills

Research Applies to: Headsprout

About This Research

This study examined changes in decoding skills. Students with Down syndrome used Headsprout at home under parental observation, thus extending the understanding of the program’s implementation in non-traditional populations and settings. Growth in student decoding skills was measured using two separate reading assessments.

Main Findings

Participants’ reading ability increased after using Headsprout. Specifically, age equivalence in word recognition improved by a range of 6 to 20 months, and fluency in reading nonsense words (a key decoding skill) improved by an average of 42 correct words per minute.


Participants were five children with Down syndrome aged 8 to 11 years. All participants attended mainstream schools.

Study Design and Procedures

This study used a single-case pre- and posttest design. Participants used Headsprout at home, outside of school hours, under parental supervision. The intervention lasted for six months, during which participants completed an average of 41 Headsprout episodes. The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) and the Word Recognition and Phonic Skills (WRaPS) assessment were used as pre- and posttests to measure changes in reading skills.


Grindle, C., Tyler, E., Murray, C., Hastings, R. P., & Lovell, M. (2019). Parent-mediated online reading intervention for children with Down syndrome. Support for Learning. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/1467-9604.12249

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