The neuropsychological correlates of early reading acquisition: Implications for early identification of reading disability and for children placed in transitional first grade classrooms

Jolynn-Marie Wagner, Fordham University

Abstract

The Gesellian theory of development proposes that time, not intervention, affects children's development. Many schools adhere to this theory in informally identifying children as "not ready" for first grade, and by employing a "transitional" classroom for children to mature over the course of a year before entering regular first grade. The purpose of the present study was two-fold. First, it was hypothesized that children identified as developmentally young and placed in a Gesellian transitional first grade classroom would display reading-related cognitive impairments placing them at risk for reading disability (RD). Second, it was hypothesized that those reading impairments would persist over the course of an academic year, rather than manifesting as temporary delays.^ A total of 89 children from kindergarten and first grade participated in this study, including 38 children identified as developmentally delayed (DD group) and 51 normal controls (NC group). Children were evaluated over the course of an academic year within the neuropsychological framework of RD, including verbal and non-verbal reading-related tasks, as well as reading, spelling, and word attack achievement.^ The DD group performed lower on phonology, long-term verbal memory, and achievement variables compared to the NC group. Further, phonology was related to the DD group's lower achievement scores, and also distinguished between the DD and NC groups. Verbal memory skill was also found to be related to the DD group's lower achievement scores, and short-term verbal memory discriminated between the DD and NC groups. Expressive verbal skill and directionality were also found to be significant predictors of group membership. Expected results for other verbal and non-verbal variables were not found.^ Results from this study lend support to the hypothesis that those children identified as not ready for first grade may be at risk for RD, as indicated by deficits in phonological and verbal memory skill. This implies that empirical testing procedures and pragmatic intervention, targeting cognitive strengths and weaknesses, may be more appropriate than the presently employed transitional classroom. ^

Subject Area

Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Clinical|Psychology, Cognitive

Recommended Citation

Jolynn-Marie Wagner, "The neuropsychological correlates of early reading acquisition: Implications for early identification of reading disability and for children placed in transitional first grade classrooms" (January 1, 1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9730114.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9730114

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