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IES Grant

Title: Predictors and Subtypes of Reading Disabilities: Implications for Instruction of 'Late Emergers'
Center: NCER Year: 2010
Principal Investigator: Compton, Donald Awardee: Vanderbilt University
Program: Literacy      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years Award Amount: $1,346,663
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A100034

Co-Principal Investigators: Fuchs, Douglas; Fuchs, Lynn

Purpose: Comprehension of text requires the coordination of a complex set of skills. At a minimum, children need to be able to decode printed words on a page and comprehend spoken language in order to read with understanding. One goal of this exploratory research is to determine whether these two skill sets — word-level skills and linguistic comprehension — are independent of each other. A second goal is to understand how development in these two skill domains may be related to reading problems.

Across the elementary grades, reading development follows many different trajectories. Building upon prior IES-funded research on response-to-intervention to prevent and identify children with reading disabilities (Compton, Fuchs, and Fuchs, 2006; R324G060036,, the research team will collect additional primary data on a sample of children who have been followed longitudinally from first through fourth grade. In the present study, these children will be identified as one of five types of readers: those with (1) typical development; (2) early-emerging reading disability; (3) late-emerging reading disability (LERD) with word-level deficits only; (4) LERD with comprehension deficits only; or (5) LERD with both word-level and comprehension deficits. Currently, little is known about those children who begin elementary school as typically developing readers and then later are identified as having a reading disability (i.e., 'Late Emergers'). In this project, the research team will identify characteristics of children that may be amenable to intervention in order to guide instruction for all children and particularly for 'Late Emergers.'

Project Activities: The researchers will gather additional data on an existing sample of 550 children who are participants in an on-going longitudinal study funded by IES. These children have been assessed in the fall of first grade and will continue to be assessed in the spring of first through fourth grade on a variety of reading measures targeting phonological and decoding skills, word identification skills, fluency, and comprehension. Children who fit one of the five reading profiles will be given an extensive follow-up battery at the beginning of fifth grade to assess different aspects of linguistic processing and executive functioning. Using latent Markov chain modeling, the movement of children among the five subtypes across the elementary school years will be modeled. Multinomial logistic regression will be used to explore behavioral profiles that predict group membership.

Products: The products from this project include published reports on behavioral profiles of children with different developmental trajectories in reading, including typically developing readers, those with early-emerging reading disability, and those with different types of late-emerging reading disability. Defining behavioral profiles for these different types of readers will help inform reading instruction for students in elementary school.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study is being conducted in eight elementary schools in a large urban center in Tennessee.

Population: Study participants are 550 students in 1st through 5th grade. These children are currently participants in an on-going IES-funded project.

Intervention: In this study, the researchers will identify behavioral profiles of elementary school students that are associated with different types of reading ability (typical development, early-emerging reading disability, late-emerging reading disability) to identify possible targets for intervention at the instructional level.

Research Design and Methods: Three cohorts of children have been assessed in the fall of their 1st grade year and will continue to be followed longitudinally with assessments given at the end of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade. This set of assessments will be used to identify the five groups of readers for this exploratory study. In the fall of 5th grade, an extensive measurement battery of reading, word reading processes, language, executive function, and print exposure will be given to further specify subtypes and explore the behavioral profiles associated with each group.

Control Condition: There is no control condition.

Key Measures: The measurement battery includes standardized direct child measures of word reading, reading comprehension, language, and executive function skills. Teachers will be asked to rate individual children’s attention levels. Print exposure will also be measured.

Data Analytic Strategy: Mixture latent Markov modeling will be used to determine group membership (typical development, early-emerging reading disability, late-emerging reading disability with word-level deficits only, comprehension level deficits only, or both). Once children in the five groups have been identified, multinomial logistic regression will be used to identify common and unique variables that predict group membership.

Related IES Projects: Response-To-Intervention as an Approach to Preventing and Identifying Learning Disabilities in Reading (R324G060036)


Book chapter

Compton, D.L., Elleman, A.M., and Catts, H.W. (2012). Searching for Supplementary Screening Measures to Identify Children at High Risk for Developing Later Reading Problems Assessing. In J. Sabatini, and E.R. Albro (Eds.), Reading in the 21st Century: Aligning and Applying Advances in the Reading and Measurement Sciences. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littleford Education.

Compton, D.L., Miller, A.C., Gilbert, J.K., and Steacy, L.M. (2013). What Can Be Learned About The Reading Comprehension Of Poor Readers Through The Use Of Advanced Statistical Modeling Techniques?. In L.E. Cutting, B. Miller, and P. McCardle (Eds.), Unraveling the Behavioral, Neurobiological, and Genetic Components of Reading Comprehension (pp. 135–147). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Cho, C., Compton, D.L., Gilbert, J.K., Steacy, L.M., Collins, A.A., and Lindstrom, E.R. (2017). Development of First-Graders' Word Reading Skills: For Whom Can Dynamic Assessment Tell Us More?. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 50(1): 95–112.

Cho, E., and Compton, D.L. (2015). Construct and Incremental Validity of Dynamic Assessment of Decoding Within and Across Domains. Learning and Individual Differences, 37: 183–196.

Gilbert, J.K., Goodwin, A.P., Compton, D.L., and Kearns, D.M. (2014). Multisyllabic Word Reading as a Moderator of Morphological Awareness and Reading Comprehension. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 47(1): 34–43.

Kearns, D.M., Steacy, L.M., Compton, D.L., Gilbert, J.K., Goodwin, A.P., Cho, E., Lindstrom, E.R., and Collins, A.A. (2016). Modeling Polymorphemic Word Recognition: Exploring Differences Among Children With Early-Emerging and Late-Emerging Word Reading Difficulty. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 49(4): 368–94.

Steacy, L.M., Kearns, D.M., Gilbert, J.K., Compton, D.L., Cho, E., Lindstrom, E.R., and Collins, A.A. (2017). Exploring Individual Differences in Irregular Word Recognition Among Children With Early-Emerging and Late-Emerging Word Reading Difficulty. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(1), 51–69.