Preschool predictors of kindergarten reading skills

This study helps us figure out how to get a leg up on our students who will have reading difficulty in kindergarten. 
Tests were given to 136 children with low language skills and language disorders, then examined retrospectively to see which skills might predict reading performance one year later. Skills confirmed to predict kindergarten reading ability were:

  • alphabet knowledge (single best predictor)
  • phonological awareness
  • name writing
  • oral language (surprising, because kindergarten reading is decoding)

 Many of us are used to thinking of phonological awareness as *the* predictor of reading skills in kindergarten. But perhaps not so… The authors found that, “phonological awareness did not predict any unique variance in reading status when oral language and alphabet knowledge were in the model.” They further hypothesize, that “for preschool children, language and phonological awareness may have so much in common that phonological awareness does not add to the prediction of reading beyond the contribution of language.”

Clinicians can replicate the testing protocol used, which includes common measures such as the PALS (Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening) and core Language score of the CELF-P:2 (Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals: Preschool–Second Edition).
Murphy, K.A., Justice, L.M., O'Connell, A.A., Pentimonti, J.M., Kaderavek, J.N. (2016). Understanding Risk for Reading Difficulties in Children With Language Impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research59, 1436–1447.