Lori E. Skibbe, University of Virginia
Kevin J. Grimm, University of Virginia
Tina L. Stanton-Chapman, University of Virginia
Laura M. Justice, University of Virginia
Khara L. Pence, University of Virginia
Ryan P. Bowles, University of Virginia
Abstract: Studies provide quantitative evidence concerning the reading-achievement risks for children with a history of specific language impairment (SLI), although the relation between SLI and reading disability is not yet completely understood. The reading trajectories of children with SLI were compared to those of typically developing children (TD), using data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care. A total of 798 children were classified according to whether or not they exhibited SLI at 54 months (n = 145 SLI, n = 653 TD). A latent basis growth curve model was used to model children's reading achievement, as measured by three subtests of the Woodcock-Johnson, at four points in time from preschool through fifth grade. The shape of the growth curve was similar for both groups of children: all children gained around 59% of their reading skills between preschool and first grade, around 30% between first and third grade, and the remaining 11% between third and fifth grade. However, children with SLI showed reading skills that were, on average, 1 standard deviation behind TD children during preschool. Over the six year study, children with SLI demonstrated faster growth in reading ability than TD children, closing about 25% of the initial gap in achievement. Despite a greater amount of growth over time, children with SLI had reading skills significantly lower than TD children in fifth grade. These findings contribute to the basic understanding of the integrative linkages between developmental language disorders and later reading difficulties.