Date of Award

Winter 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

William Owings

Committee Member

Steve Myran

Committee Member

Petros Katsioloudis


There is a plethora of available early childhood education research linking participation and funding to short- and long-term benefits for individuals, society, and the economy. Educational advocates, social justice proponents, and economists agree that pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) education is the best human capital investment to spur economic growth and wealth. States are faced with choices and challenges concerning Pre-K investments as a vehicle to realizing desired literacy outcomes. Virginia, in particular, is stifled by below-average proficiency rates on national and state reading assessments, as well as declines school readiness skills and early literacy rates. For this reason, the intent of this introductory study was to investigate the impact of local fiscal effort for Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) on the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) for Pre-K achievement rates in Virginia. This study used a bi-variate causal-comparative non-experimental model to compare group mean differences of PALS-PreK data from School Year (SY) 2010-2011 through 2014-2015 from participating school divisions in Region 2. The ANCOVA analysis of the findings failed to reject the null hypothesis. Although no statistically significant difference was determined on Pre-K literacy rates between divisions with high fiscal effort for VPI and divisions with low fiscal effort for VPI, the results offer an important and necessary step toward understanding the complexities of Pre-K investments and early literacy in Virginia. The strengths of this study are its originality and the ease of replication.