Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Research bytes 7-14-10: Early detection and prediction of academic problems-special issue of JLD

Thomson, J. M., & Hogan, T. P. (2010). Introduction: Advances in Early Detection of Reading Risk. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(4), 291-293.

Adlof, S. M., Catts, H. W., & Lee, J. (2010). Kindergarten Predictors of Second Versus Eighth Grade Reading Comprehension Impairments. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(4), 332-345.
Multiple studies have shown that kindergarten measures of phonological awareness and alphabet knowledge are good predictors of reading achievement in the primary grades. However, less attention has been given to the early predictors of later reading achievement. This study used a modified best-subsets variable-selection technique to examine kindergarten predictors of early versus later reading comprehension impairments. Participants included 433 children involved in a longitudinal study of language and reading development. The kindergarten test battery assessed various language skills in addition to phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, naming speed, and nonverbal cognitive ability. Reading comprehension was assessed in second and eighth grades. Results indicated that different combinations of variables were required to optimally predict second versus eighth grade reading impairments. Although some variables effectively predicted reading impairments in both grades, their relative contributions shifted over time. These results are discussed in light of the changing nature of reading comprehension over time. Further research will help to improve the early identification of later reading disabilities.

Corriveau, K. H., Goswami, U., & Thomson, J. M. (2010). Auditory Processing and Early Literacy Skills in a Preschool and Kindergarten Population. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(4), 369-382.
Although the relationship between auditory processing and reading-related skills has been investigated in school-age populations and in prospective studies of infants, understanding of the relationship between these variables in the period immediately preceding formal reading instruction is sparse. In this cross-sectional study, auditory processing, phonological awareness, early literacy skills, and general ability were assessed in a mixed sample of 88 three- to six-year-old children both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Results from both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses suggest the importance of early auditory rise time sensitivity in developing phonological awareness skills, especially in the development of rhyme awareness.

Hogan, T. P. (2010).  A short report:  Word-level phonological and lexical characteristics interact to influence phoneme awareness
In this study, we examined the influence of word-level phonological and lexical characteristics on early phoneme awareness. Typically developing children, ages 61 to 78 months, completed a phoneme-based, odd-one-out task that included consonant—vowel—consonant word sets (e.g., “chair—chain—ship”) that varied orthogonally by a phonological characteristic, sound contrast similarity (similar vs. dissimilar), and a lexical characteristic, neighborhood density (dense vs. sparse). In a subsample of the participants—those with the highest vocabularies—results were in line with a predicted interactive effect of phonological and lexical characteristics on phoneme awareness performance: word sets contrasting similar sounds were less likely to yield correct responses in words from sparse neighborhoods than words from dense neighborhoods. Word sets contrasting dissimilar sounds were most likely to yield correct responses regardless of the words’ neighborhood density. Based on these findings, theories of early phoneme awareness should consider both word-level and child-level influences on performance. Attention to these influences is predicted to result in more sensitive and specific measures of reading risk.

Liu, P. D., McBrideChang, C., Wong, A. M. Y., Tardif, T., Stokes, S. F., Fletcher, P., & Shu, H. (2010). Early Oral Language Markers of Poor Reading Performance in Hong Kong Chinese Children. Journal of Learning
Disabilities, 43(4), 322-331.

This study investigated the extent to which language skills at ages 2 to 4 years could discriminate Hong Kong Chinese poor from adequate readers at age 7. Selected were 41 poor readers (age M = 87.6 months) and 41 adequate readers (age M = 88.3 months). The two groups were matched on age, parents’ education levels, and nonverbal intelligence. The following language tasks were tested at different ages: vocabulary checklist and Cantonese articulation test at age 2; nonword repetition, Cantonese articulation, and receptive grammar at age 3; and nonword repetition, receptive grammar, sentence imitation, and story comprehension at age 4. Significant differences between the poor and adequate readers were found in the age 2 vocabulary knowledge, age 3 Cantonese articulation, and age 4 receptive grammar skill, sentence imitation, and story comprehension. Among these measures, sentence imitation showed the greatest power in discriminating poor and adequate readers.

Smith, S. L., Roberts, J. A., Locke, J. L., & Tozer, R. (2010). An Exploratory Study of the Development of Early Syllable Structure in Reading-Impaired Children. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(4), 294-307.

Babbling between the ages of 8 and 19 months was examined in 19 children, 13 of whom were at high risk for reading disorder (RD) and 6 normally reading children at low familial risk for RD. Development of syllable complexity was examined at five periods across this 11-month window. Results indicated that children who later evidenced RD produced a lower proportion of canonical utterances and less complex syllable structures than children without RD. As syllable complexity is an early indicator of phonological sophistication, differences at this level may offer a window into how the phonological system of children with RD is structured. Future directions for this line of research are discussed

Torppa, M., Lyytinen, P., Erskine, J., Eklund, K., & Lyytinen, H. (2010). Language Development, Literacy Skills,
and Predictive Connections to Reading in Finnish Children With and Without Familial Risk for Dyslexia.
Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(4), 308-321.

Discriminative language markers and predictive links between early language and literacy skills were investigated retrospectively in the Jyväskylä Longitudinal Study of Dyslexia in which children at familial risk for dyslexia have been followed from birth. Three groups were formed on the basis of 198 children’s reading and spelling status. One group of children with reading disability (RD; n = 46) and two groups of typical readers from nondyslexic control (TRC; n = 84) and dyslexic families (TRD; n = 68) were examined from age 1.5 years to school age. The RD group was outperformed by typical readers on numerous language and literacy measures (expressive and receptive language, morphology, phonological sensitivity, RAN, and letter knowledge) from 2 years of age onward. The strongest predictive links emerged from receptive and expressive language to reading via measures of letter naming, rapid naming, morphology, and phonological awareness.
vanderLely, H. K. J., & Marshall, C. R. (2010). Assessing Component Language Deficits in the Early Detection of Reading Difficulty Risk. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(4), 357-368.
This article focuses on some of the linguistic components that underlie letter-sound decoding skills and reading comprehension: specifically phonology, morphology, and syntax. Many children who have reading difficulties had language deficits that were detectable before they began reading. Early identification of language difficulties will therefore help identify children at risk of reading failure. Using a developmental psycholinguistic framework, the authors provide a model of how syntax, morphology, and phonology break down in children with language impairments. The article reports on a screening test of these language abilities for preschool or young school-aged children that identifies those at risk for literacy problems and in need of further assessment.
Hogan, T. P., & Thomson, J. M. (2010). Epilogue to Journal of Learning Disabilities Special Edition ''Advances in the Early Detection of Reading Risk'': Future Advances in the Early Detection of Reading Risk: Subgroups,
Dynamic Relations, and Advanced Methods. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(4), 383-386.
Six studies and one synthesis focused on early identification of reading impairment in this special edition. A familiar theme emerged: reading involves multiple subsystems that dynamically interact across development, making early identification a “moving target” (cf. Speece, 2005). Based on the cumulative findings presented in this edition, we pose five key considerations for future advances in the early detection of reading risk: (a) attention to the definition of reading and the heterogeneity of poor readers; (b) longitudinal dynamic relations; (c) application of advanced, theory-driven methods and statistical models; (d) early identification that leads to prescriptive early intervention; and (e) early identification in a multilingual, multicultural population.

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