The Relationship between Early Word Reading and Reading Comprehension for Language-Minority Learners and Native-English-Speaking Students: A Seven-Year Longitudinal Study Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Relyea, Jackie
    • Affiliation: School of Education
  • The significant role of early word-reading ability in reading comprehension development for monolingual native-English-speaking (NE) children has long been theoretically and empirically recognized. Yet, whether this is the case for language-minority (LM) learners who learn to read in a second or additional language has yet to be thoroughly established in the research literature. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether the relationship between first-grade word reading and reading comprehension growth through eighth grade varied as a function of children’s language status (i.e., LM learners and NE students). Using seven-year longitudinal data from a nationally representative sample of children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999, growth trajectories of English-reading comprehension proficiency for LM learners (n = 992) and NE students (n = 7,188) of differing initial English word-reading proficiency were examined. A series of Hierarchical Generalized Linear Modeling growth curve analyses was conducted. The main conclusion was that children with initially high Word-Reading Proficiency demonstrated more growth than children with initially low Word-Reading Proficiency, but the effect of initial Word-Reading Proficiency was especially impactful for LM learners as compared to NE learners. Specifically, LM learners with initially high Word-Reading Proficiency had relatively lower Reading-Comprehension Proficiency than their NE peers with high Word-Reading Proficiency in first grade, but Reading-Comprehension Proficiency growth trajectories of the two groups converged by the end of eighth grade. In contrast, LM learners with initially low Word-Reading Proficiency had a relatively lower Reading-Comprehension Proficiency in first grade and had significantly less growth as compared to NE students with low Word-Reading Proficiency, thereby leading to a large gap between the two groups by the end of eighth grade. Results emphasize enhanced instructional opportunities for LM learners that focus on promoting strong word-reading skills in first grade.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Amendum, Steve
  • Fitzgerald, Jill
  • Lloyd, Mollie
  • Ware, William
  • Baker, Robin
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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