Illiteracy continues to be an important and challenging problem in the U.S. To date, numerous studies suggest that inefficient word identification-decoding skills are a source of poor reading and illiteracy. However, even if children do have efficient word identification-decoding skills children can still score poorly on assessments of reading because of weak or inefficient processes that are used for comprehending text. But how well do comprehension processes predict the future reading ability of preschoolers and which processes are most important? Sadly, these questions remain unanswered because currently we do not assess the comprehension processes of preschoolers in order to predict their future reading abilities. This lack of knowledge is problematic because i we knew that measures of comprehension processes predicted preschoolers'future reading comprehension abilities than we could detect potential problems in reading before these problems actually begin. Indeed, such detections would be both analogous to and complementary of the practice of early detections of problems with orthographic and phonemic decoding. Moreover, such knowledge would allow us to reduce illiteracy because such knowledge is used to create intervention programs that foster the development of comprehension processes in pre- and beginning readers (identification ->intervention). Therefore, the goal of the present proposal is to acquire this critical knowledge by first administering measures of comprehension processes to preschoolers and then by using the preschoolers'performances on these measures to predict their future reading comprehension ability. The present proposal also compares the predictive power of comprehension processes to other cognitive processes/resources that are known to predict reading comprehension ability (i.e., lower-level word decoding-identification processes, language comprehension ability, and vocabulary knowledge). To complete this theoretically- and practically-motivated research, the present project uses a longitudinal design with two time points that are two years apart. At time point one, preschoolers will complete age-appropriate measures of (i) comprehension processes, (ii) word decoding processes, (iii) language comprehension ability, and (iv) vocabulary knowledge. At time point 2, the same children will complete age-appropriate measures of (i) reading comprehension and (ii) language comprehension ability. The results of the present study will provide a strong foundation of knowledge for identifying potential problems in reading comprehension before a child begins to read. The present study will also eliminate some of the low-levels of self-esteem, self-concept and motivation to learn that often plague poor readers by the end of the first grade.
Discovering the cognitive processes/components tapped by measures of reading comprehension ability is universally relevant to beginning readers because such a discovery has the potential to eliminate low-levels of self-esteem, self-concept and motivation that plague poor readers by the end of the first grade. In addition, such a discovery will allow us to detect potential problems in reading before a child begins to read and should also lead to the creation of intervention programs that foster the development of comprehension processes in pre- and beginning readers (identification ->intervention). Therefore, this project assesses comprehension processes, letter-word identification-decoding processes, language comprehension, and vocabulary knowledge in preschoolers and then determines the extent that these cognitive processes/components predict preschoolers'future reading comprehension abilities.