Early prediction of reading comprehension skills

The path to successful reading depends not only on the ability to decode words, but also on good language comprehension. Unfortunately, many early literacy screeners rely heavily upon decoding skills, excluding comprehension. The purpose of this longitudinal study (part of a much larger project) was to identify appropriate tools to also measure listening comprehension in preschool-aged children.
 
The authors describe listening comprehension as both a cognitive and linguistic skill. Thus, for the 318 children examined, many possible predictors of 2nd grade listening comprehension were explored, “… including multiple measures of foundational language (vocabulary and grammar), higher-level language (inferencing, comprehension monitoring, and text structure knowledge), working memory, and nonverbal processing, as well as pertinent demographic factors…”, to see which predictors were strongest. They found that the Test of Narrative Language and the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals—4 Recalling Sentences section are each strong predictors, and together best-predicted 2nd grade listening comprehension. Note that the TNL receptive section takes ~15 minutes to administer; the CELF-4 RS takes ~5 mintues to administer.
 
From this information, the authors suggest that either of these tools could be useful additions to preschool screening protocols, given the implications for reading comprehension outcomes. The clinician could then use results to identify which children may need further language evaluation.

Alonzo, C.N., Yeomans-Maldonado, G., Murphy, K., Bevens, B., & Language and Reading Research Consortium. (2016). Predicting second grade listening comprehension using prekindergarten measures. Topics in Language Disorders, 36(4), 312–333.