The identification and classification of reading disorders based on the simple view of reading. (2021)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
Poor readers are not a homogeneous group of children. Instead, the aetiology and the magnitude of their reading difficulties vary from child to child. Many researchers have attempted to explain this variation through the use of classification approaches. One of the most promising classification approaches is based on the simple view of reading (SVR). This model predicts that impaired reading comprehension ability can result from decoding difficulties, language comprehension difficulties, or a combination of these difficulties, resulting in three poor reader groups. However, when this model has been operationalised, classification studies have identified a fourth group of children whose reading difficulties are not explained by the SVR model.
This study investigated whether alternative classification approaches based on the SVR could provide a better fit for the data. It also sought to address other limitations associated with the traditional classification approach. This study included 209 children in Years 4, 5, and 6 (8–10 years of age, Grades 3–5) from New Zealand primary schools. The children completed 14 individually administered tests that assessed various aspects of their reading comprehension, decoding, language comprehension, phonological awareness, and rapid naming ability. A cluster analysis approach provided the best explanation for children’s reading difficulties. This approach identified the three poor reader groups predicted by the SVR model: dyslexia, specific comprehension difficulty (SCD), and mixed reading difficulty. When children were classified using the cluster analysis approach, multinomial logistic regression analyses were able to predict group membership with greater accuracy than they could with any other classification approach investigated in this research. A second set of analyses compared the three poor reader groups across the 14 assessments. These analyses found that the groups demonstrated distinct cognitive profiles. While all the groups demonstrated reading comprehension difficulties, the dyslexia group showed particular weaknesses in word processing and phonological areas, the SCD group showed problems deriving meaning from oral language, and the mixed group showed general deficits in most areas of reading and language processing. A final set of analyses investigated whether the three poor reader groups could be identified using tests that can be accessed by classroom teachers. This approach demonstrated strengths and limitations. The implications associated with the results obtained in this research are discussed, particularly in terms of the usefulness of the SVR model as a way to understand reading difficulties. Future research opportunities are identified, including the need for more school-based work to support teachers in identifying different types of reading difficulties.
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