[PS-1.6] Early Predictors for Reading Comprehension Difficulties among Israeli Arabic-Native Speaking Pupils in Fourth Grade

Makhoul , B. 1, 2, 3, 4

1 Oranim Academic College of Education, Kiryat Tevon, Israel.
2 The Hebrew University, Jerusalem
3 Center for Educational Technology, Tel-Aviv, Israel
4 University of Haifa, Israel

The current study followed the development of literacy skills amongst 79 Israeli Arabic native speaking pupils from kindergarten to fourth grade. In second grade, spelling and decoding were also tested. Reading comprehension tests were administrated in both second and fourth grade. Based on reading comprehension attainments in fourth grade, two groups of skilled and poor readers were identified. A mixed analysis of variance over time pointed to progress on the various assessed literacy domains within both groups of readers, excluding phonological and morphological awareness, concepts of print and alphabetic principle. On the later, skilled readers showed significantly higher performance when compared to poor readers. Importantly, a hierarchical regression revealed that syntax ability, writing and alphabetic principle seemed to best explain reading comprehension performance in second grade. In fourth grade, alphabetic principle and morphological awareness skills in kindergarten were the best predictors for reading comprehension. Moreover, phonological awareness in second grade was found the sole predictor of reading comprehension performance in fourth grade. Overall, the results emphasis the necessity of moving beyond the exclusivity of phonological awareness skills to reading acquisition and comprehension in Arabic, acknowledging the importance of additional key precursors to Arabic literacy development.