[PS-1.39] Development of a screening tool for early identification of Chinese preschool children at risk for reading difficulties

Ho, C. S. 1 , Yeung, P. P. 1 , Leung, K. N. 1 , Chan, D. W. 2 , Chung, K. K. 3 , Lee, S. 1 & Tsang, S. 4

1 The University of Hong Kong
2 The Chinese University of Hong Kong
3 Hong Kong Institute of Education
4 Education Bureau, HKSAR

The present study aimed at identifying some preschool predictors of reading difficulties in Chinese and developing a preschool screening tool for use by teachers to identify Chinese children at risk for reading difficulties. 343 Chinese children were recruited from 19 representative kindergartens in Hong Kong and they were followed from Kindergarten second year (K2) to Grade 1. They were tested on Chinese word reading, English letter naming, rapid digit naming, and two orthographic skills at K2 and K3. In order to examine the predictive power of these preschool skills for later dyslexia status, 98 children were administered a standardized Chinese dyslexia test at Grade 1. To ensure that more children with reading difficulties could be screened out in the sample, the first graders with low preschool word reading score were over-sampled for dyslexia assessment. Based on the results of the dyslexia test, 52 of the first graders were classified as normal readers and 46 were dyslexic or poor readers. It was found that the two groups differed significantly in all the preschool measures. Results of logistic regression showed that age, IQ, and Chinese word reading at K2 were significant predictors of the dyslexia/poor reading status in Grade 1 with an overall correct classification rate of 87%, while age, IQ, Chinese word reading, rapid digit naming, and lexical decision were significant K3 predictors with an overall correct classification rate of 89%. These findings suggest that Chinese dyslexic children already have difficulty in learning to learn at preschool stage and they show early difficulties in rapid naming and orthographic skills. A screening test was developed for quick identification of at-risk Chinese preschool children based on these findings.