ELSB Complete ELSB Chart of MaterialsELSB Level 1 Materials

The beginnings of ELSB.

ELSB — Early Literacy Skills Builder

Apply the "science" of reading to students with moderate-to-severe developmental disabilities, including autism

The Early Literacy Skills Builder program incorporates systematic instruction to teach both print and phonemic awareness. ELSB is a multi-year program with seven distinct levels and ongoing assessments so students progress at their own pace.

Five years of solid research have been completed through the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, proving ELSB to be a highly effective literacy program and more effective than a sight-word only program. ELSB is based upon the principles of systematic and direct instruction. It incorporates scripted lessons, least-prompt strategies, teachable objectives, built-in lesson repetition, and ongoing assessments. The seven ELSB levels contain five structured lessons each. All students begin at Level 1. If a student struggles here, go back and administer Level A. Instruction is one-on-one or in small groups. Teach scripted lessons daily in two 30-minute sessions. On the completion of each level, formal assessments are given. ELSB includes everything you need to implement a multi-year literacy curriculum.

ISBN: 1-57861-632-8

ProductItem No.PriceQty.
ELSB — Early Literacy Skills BuilderEL-S10W
Click here to see how this product aligns to state and national standards.


Dr. Diane Browder, principal author of ELSB, directed an analysis of 128 studies on teaching reading to students with cognitive disabilities, which indicated the effectiveness of using systematic instruction techniques to teach sight words. ELSB research was conducted through Project RAISE and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Five years of research have been completed. Sixty students from the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System with moderate to severe disabilities received daily instruction in the ELSB curriculum. These students were compared with a control group using a sight-word only approach. ELSB students earned significantly higher scores on the pre/post test for the ELSB curriculum as well as the Nonverbal Literacy Assessment and receptive language measures.

Data from the first 3 years of classroom research show that the ELSB group had higher gain scores (posttest minus pretest) than the control group on all four dependent variables. Accordingly, the Institute of Education Sciences (funding agency) approved the discontinuation of the Edmark control group in 2008. Students continued to make significant progress in years 4-5.

ELSB is aligned to state and national standards, including the common core.

ELSB Authors


  • Implementation Guide
  • 6 Teacher’s Manuals
  • 6 Student Material Books
  • 6 Student Assessment Books
  • Moe the Frog Puppet
  • All About Moe Stories
  • DVD for staff training
  • CDs with printable PDFs and other reproducible resources
  • Sight Word Flashcards
  • Magnetic Board with Stars
  • 2 Storage Boxes

See also our ELSB Software to use in conjunction with the print version or as a stand-alone reading curriculum.

See also the Early Literacy Communication Package — a GoTalk 4+ and the Early Literacy Communication Overlays book featuring 50 tear out pages of overlays to compliment the ELSB program.

ELSB is also part of our Core Curriculum Solution: Elementary.

Need more information? Have questions or comments about ELSB? Contact our expert at ELSB@attainmentcompany.com.

Also available as a part of:



ELSB is based on exhaustive analyses of published research on reading acquisition. The National Reading Panel Report (NRP, 2000) provided strong evidence that phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, and comprehension are among the essential components of a successful reading program. In addition, Dr. Diane Browder (2006) directed an analysis of 128 studies on teaching reading to students with cognitive disabilities, which indicated the effectiveness of using systematic instruction techniques to teach sight words. ELSB accommodates the research from both analyses by including the NRP components and systematic instruction techniques.

Five Year Research Study Completed
ELSB research was conducted by Project RAISE at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Students from the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System with significant disabilities received daily instruction in the ELSB curriculum.

A published research study in Exceptional Children (Browder et al., 2008) on the first year of the project compared ELSB to the Edmark Reading Program, which uses a sight-word-only approach. Here, students were randomly assigned to either the Edmark or ELSB group. The ELSB students had significantly higher scores on four measures:

  1. ELSB pre-and post-test,
  2. Nonverbal Literacy Assessment (Phonics Skills and Conventions of Reading),
  3. Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test–III (Receptive Vocabulary), and
  4. Woodcock Language Proficiency Battery.


CASE Announces Endorsement of the
Early Literacy Skills Builder by Attainment Company

The Executive Committee of the Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) announced today their endorsement of an Attainment Company curriculum titled Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB). The ELSB is an early literacy program for students who have moderate-to-severe developmental disabilities, including autism. Early literacy skills provide the foundation for learning to read. The ELSB met or exceeded the criteria established by the CASE Publication and Product Review Committee, and therefore carries an official CASE endorsement. Among the criteria considered were the research base and the effectiveness of the curriculum. The ELSB has been shown effective in teaching early literacy skills to this population during a 5-year federal grant led by principal investigator Diane Browder, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC). A report on the first year of research was recently published in the peer reviewed Journal, Exceptional Children (Volume 74, Number 5).

ELSB is the first-ever, research-based curriculum for students with moderate-to-severe developmental disabilities that addresses the essential components of effective reading instruction identified by the National Reading Panel. Authors Diane Browder, Susan Gibbs, Lynn Ahlgrim-Delzell, Angel Lee (all of UNCC), and Ginevra Courtade (University of Louisville), wrote this multi-year program to address the needs of nonverbal and verbal students. The curriculum incorporates effective teaching procedures, such as prompting and feedback and provides multiple opportunities for students to learn essential literacy skills. The curriculum is taught in inclusionary settings or in small groups in resource rooms; the ongoing assessments and eight levels also allow students to progress at their own pace.

CASE is an international professional organization affiliated with the Council for Exceptional
Children (CEC). Dr. Luann Purcell, CASE Executive Director, said, “Thank you Attainment
Company for bringing this research-based curriculum to the attention of special education
administrators nationwide.”

The curriculum is published by Attainment Company, an independent, family-owned publishing
business based in Verona, Wisconsin. Since 1979, Attainment Company has been a leader in creating
products for people with disabilities. Don Bastian, founder and CEO, commented about the CASE
endorsement, “I’m proud to be the publisher of such a vital curriculum and delighted that CASE
found the ELSB worthy of its official endorsement.”

— Press Release, January 15, 2009 by Don Bastian