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Differences in the Predictors of Reading Comprehension in First Graders from Low Socio-Economic Status Families with Either Good or Poor Decoding Skills

Abstract : Based on the assumption that good decoding skills constitute a bootstrapping mechanism for reading comprehension, the present study investigated the relative contribution of the former skill to the latter compared to that of three other predictors of reading comprehension (listening comprehension, vocabulary and phonemic awareness) in 392 French-speaking first graders from low SES families. This large sample was split into three groups according to their level of decoding skills assessed by pseudoword reading. Using a cutoff of 1 SD above or below the mean of the entire population, there were 63 good decoders, 267 average decoders and 62 poor decoders. 58% of the variance in reading comprehension was explained by our four predictors, with decoding skills proving to be the best predictor (12.1%, 7.3% for listening comprehension, 4.6% for vocabulary and 3.3% for phonemic awareness). Interaction between group versus decoding skills, listening comprehension and phonemic awareness accounted for significant additional variance (3.6%, 1.1% and 1.0%, respectively). The effects on reading comprehension of decoding skills and phonemic awareness were higher in poor and average decoders than in good decoders whereas listening comprehension accounted for more variance in good and average decoders than in poor decoders. Furthermore, the percentage of children with impaired reading comprehension skills was higher in the group of poor decoders (55%) than in the two other groups (average decoders: 7%; good decoders: 0%) and only 6 children (1.5%) had impaired reading comprehension skills with unimpaired decoding skills, listening comprehension or vocabulary. These results challenge the outcomes of studies on " poor comprehenders " by showing that, at least in first grade, poor reading comprehension is strongly linked to the level of decoding skills.
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Edouard Gentaz, Liliane Sprenger-Charolles, Anne Theurel. Differences in the Predictors of Reading Comprehension in First Graders from Low Socio-Economic Status Families with Either Good or Poor Decoding Skills. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2015, 10 (e0119581), ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0119581⟩. ⟨hal-01217794⟩

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