Academic journal article Learning Disability Quarterly

Prediction of First-Grade Reading Achievement: A Comparison of Fall and Winter Kindergarten Screenings

Academic journal article Learning Disability Quarterly

Prediction of First-Grade Reading Achievement: A Comparison of Fall and Winter Kindergarten Screenings

Article excerpt

Abstract. The purpose of this study was threefold: (a) to identify a combination of predictive measures that correlate with reading achievement, (b) to examine the predictive accuracy of these measures, and (c) to determine the most accurate time frame for test administration in kindergarten. One hundred and three kindergarten students from three schools participated over a period of two years. Measures representing letter identification, phonological awareness, phonological memory, and rapid automatized naming were administered in the fall and winter of the kindergarten year. Reading achievement was measured at the end of grade 1 using measures that included passage comprehension, fluency, sight-word recognition, and phonemic decoding. Five predictive models representing a combination of the predictive constructs were analyzed. The model combining letter identification, phonological awareness, and rapid automatized naming was identified as the best predictor of early reading achievement. There was no practical, significant difference between the fall and winter testing time frames. These findings hold important implications for predictive research by clarifying the importance of administering standardized measures that reflect the reading process. Most important, the results can provide practitioners with information for identifying the children most in need of early reading interventions.


Early identification of children most at risk of reading failure is central to the prevention of illiteracy, a national priority hallmarked in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, 2001). This legislation sets high academic standards for students, requiring all to become proficient readers by the end of third grade, irrespective of their background knowledge upon kindergarten entry. Reading research demonstrates that the first step in preventing reading disabilities is identification and intervention at the earliest possible stage (Adams, 1990; Juel, 1988; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998; Torgesen, 1998). Results from numerous early-intervention studies are encouraging. For example, Foorman, Francis, Shaywitz, Shaywitz, and Fletcher (1997) report that 82% of remedial children can become successful readers if intervention is provided in the early grades; only 46%, however, can be effectively remediated at grades 3-5. The success rate drops to 10%-15% in the later grades. At the earliest years, if instruction is not provided to develop the skills central to fluent reading, reading failure is inevitable (Lyon, 1999). Clearly, accurate early identification of problem readers is essential.

The reading research community has come a long way in the past decade in determining effective interventions for young, struggling readers. An extensive review of reading research focusing on the primary grades by the National Research Council, and the subsequent work by the National Reading Panel, found that early intervention and prevention can resolve the majority of reading problems in our nation today (National Reading Panel, 2000; Snow et al., 1998).

Challenges, unfortunately, remain. To intervene efficiently and appropriately, assessment and identification of problem readers at the earliest stage is essential (Adams, 1990; Juel, 1988; Lyon, 1999; Snow et al., 1998; Stanovich, 1986). Simply put, "in order to efficiently remediate, we must identify the right children at the right time" (Torgesen, 1998, p. 34).

The challenging search for precise identification measures that identify the right children has spanned the past 75 years. Multiple constructs have been investigated, including mental maturity (Deputy, 1930), readiness skills (e.g., Dystra, 1966), letter naming (e.g., Chall, 1967), language (e.g., Carts, 1991), print concepts (e.g., Clay, 1981), familial factors (e.g., Scarborough, 1989), and, most recently, phonological processing skills (e.g., Wagner, Torgesen, Rashotte, Hecht, Barker, Burgess, Donahue, & Garon, 1997). …

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