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A longitudinal investigation of early reading and language skills in children with poor reading comprehension

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Background: 

Poor comprehenders have difficulty comprehending connected text, despite having age-appropriate levels of reading accuracy and fluency. We used a longitudinal design to examine earlier reading and language skills in children identified as poor comprehenders in mid-childhood. Method: 

Two hundred and forty-two children began the study at age 5. Further assessments of language and reading skill were made at 5.5, 6, 7 and 8 years. At age 8, fifteen children met criteria for being a poor comprehender and were compared to 15 control children both concurrently and prospectively. Results: 

Poor comprehenders showed normal reading accuracy and fluency at all ages. Reading comprehension was poor at each time point and, notably, showed minimal increases in raw score between 6 and 8 years. Phonological skills were generally normal throughout, but mild impairments in expressive and receptive language, listening comprehension and grammatical understanding were seen at all ages. Conclusions: 

Children identified as poor comprehenders at 8 years showed the same reading profile throughout earlier development. Their difficulties with the non-phonological aspects of oral language were present at school entry and persisted through childhood, showing that the oral language weaknesses seen in poor comprehenders in mid-childhood are not a simple consequence of their reading comprehension impairment.
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Keywords: Poor comprehenders; language impairment; reading comprehension; reading development

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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