Cross-Age Consistency in Phonological Processing
Joseph K. Torgesen Florida State University
The early chapters in this volume suggest that there are a number of interesting and important questions remaining about phonological awareness, per se, and its relationship to reading acquisition. In addition to those questions, Susan Brady has shown that there are at least as many puzzles to solve about the relationships among different kinds of phonological processing skills. At the heart of these questions, for me, is the need to better understand the nature of the deficit, or deficits, which seem to place such severe constraints on many children's ability to acquire efficient word identification skills in reading.
If we divide phonological skills broadly into those involving ability to identify and manipulate the individual phonemes in words (awareness), and those that involve efficient use of phonological information during processing (storage or retrieval of phonologically coded information), one difference is immediately apparent. Phonological awareness appears to be more easily influenced by relatively short-term training programs than other kinds of phonological ability. For example, instructional programs can produce significant and general improvements in phonological awareness with training periods ranging from 7 weeks ( Ball & Blachman, 1988) to 8 months ( Lundberg, Frost, & Peterson, 1988). In contrast, there have been no convincing demonstrations that other aspects of phonological processing, such as ability to code the phonological features of verbal information in working memory ( Torgesen, Kistner, & Morgan, 1987), can be improved by direct training. When these facts are considered in the context of follow-up data indicating that it is very difficult to overcome the information-processing