Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Predictive Accuracy of Nonsense Word Fluency for English Language Learners

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Predictive Accuracy of Nonsense Word Fluency for English Language Learners

Article excerpt

There is a growing consensus that the best way to affect literacy problems is to identify and intervene with students as soon as possible, versus waiting until a problem comes to a prereferral intervention team (Gersten & Dimino, 2006). Without early identification and intervention for students with reading problems, poor readers in first grade are likely to remain poor readers in fourth grade (Juel, 1988). Several studies have indicated that once students at risk for reading failure are identified, "good" instruction can significantly improve reading performance (Justice & Pullen, 2003; Mathes & Torgesen, 1998; Morris, Tyner, & Perney, 2000). In a study by Vellutino, Scanlon, and Tanzman (1998), the intervention program implemented was successful in making a distinction between children whose difficulties in early reading were primarily from experiential and instructional deficits and children whose difficulties in early reading were primarily due to reading-related deficits. In addition, early intervention significantly reduced the number of children who qualified as "disabled readers" (Vellutino et al.).

Researchers have clearly demonstrated the predictive ability of nonsense word fluency (NWF), phoneme segmentation fluency, and rapid automatized naming (RAN) for reading performance among native English-speaking students (Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte, 1994). Correlational studies have indicated that phonological awareness, defined as the ability to manipulate sounds in words orally (Wagner, Torgesen, Laughon, Simmons, & Rashotte, 1993), has strong concurrent and predictive relations to success in reading. An increase in phonological ability correlates with an increase in reading ability (Juel, 1988; Stahl & Murray, 1994). According to Felton and Pepper (1995), the best predictive measures for identifying children at-risk for reading failure include phoneme segmentation fluency and RAN. Those who scored higher on RAN and phoneme segmentation fluency tasks at the beginning of first grade were more likely to be better readers at the end of first grade (Blachman, 1984). Other studies have shown that although phonological awareness is the stronger predictor of reading achievement in Grades 1 and 2, naming speed becomes the stronger predictor in Grades 3 through 5 (Kirby, Parrila, & Pfeiffer, 2003).

RAN tasks that have an orthographic component, such as rapid naming of letters and sounds, are stronger predictors of reading than RAN tasks without an orthographic component (e.g., rapid naming of objects; Schatschneider, Fletcher, Francis, Carlson, & Foorman, 2004). However, measures of letter-naming knowledge, as opposed to letter-sound knowledge, quickly asymptote so that a ceiling effect is apparent by the end of kindergarten and, therefore, letter-sound knowledge becomes more predictive (Schatschneider et al.). NWF incorporates the concept of rapid naming of sounds of letters and obviously has a strong orthographic component. In a study by Speece and colleagues (Speece, Mills, Ritchey, & Hillman, 2003), results indicated that in kindergarten, letter-naming fluency and NWF identified 87.5% of poor readers as measured by first-grade oral reading fluency.

Predictors of Reading Achievement With English Language Learner (ELL) Populations

There is a tendency within schools to overlook or delay addressing the possibility that ELL children are having difficulties with word decoding that is typical of reading disability (Lesaux & Siegel, 2003). Lack of language proficiency in the language of instruction is often the cause of underassessment of a child's reading ability in the second language that the child is acquiring (Lesaux & Siegel). Teaching children to read in a language in which they are not yet proficient has been identified as a risk factor for reading problems (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). Specifically, the Spanish-speaking ELL population has been shown to be at high risk for reading problems (Stephenson, Johnson, Jorgensen, & Young, 2003). …

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