[PS-1.38] Early identification of reading disabilities

Catts, H. , Nielsen, D. , Bridges, M. , Liu, Y. & Bontempo, D.

University of Kansas

Early identification of reading disabilities is critical for effective intervention and treatment of children with dyslexia. This investigation examined the usefulness of screening at the beginning of kindergarten (about 5 years of age) and response to instruction during the kindergarten school year for the identification of children at risk for reading disabilities (RD). Participants were 313 kindergarten children selected over two consecutive years. These children were administered a battery of screening measures during the fifth and sixth weeks of school. Progress monitoring assessments were administered throughout the kindergarten year to measure children?s response to instruction in letter knowledge and phonological awareness. Reading outcomes were assessed at the end of 1st grade using subtests from the Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised and the Test of Word Reading Efficiency-2. Children with RD were defined as those who were reading below the 16th percentile (based on local norms) on a composite measure of the reading assessments. Stepwise and nested logistic regression analyses were carried out. Results showed that a small number of screening measures, including those assessing letter identification, phonological awareness, and rapid naming accurately predicted reading outcomes (AUC = .92). To examine if response to instruction improved prediction of reading outcomes, growth curve analyses were performed on progress monitoring data. When growth in letter knowledge (i.e., slope) was added to previous screening models, the prediction of reading outcomes were significantly improved (AUC = .95). Growth in phonological awareness was not a significant additive predictor. These results indicated that a combination of screening and response to instruction accurately predicted children at risk for reading disabilities. Such screening information could be useful for the implementation of an intervention program directed at improving the reading outcomes of children with dyslexia.