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The early literacy skill development of kindergartners and first graders at -risk for externalizing behavior disorders

Mary Jean O'Reilly, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Research that has examined the achievement of children with behavior disorders has demonstrated a relationship between externalizing behavior disorders and academic underachievement, particularly in the area of reading. This study compared the early literacy skill development of 10 kindergartners and 10 first graders who were teacher-identified as presenting with difficult classroom behavior to that of 17 typical classroom peers. A systematic diagnostic assessment, using broad and narrow-band rating scales and structured interviews, was completed by parents and teachers to confirm the at-risk status of the identified children. Data were collected on early literacy skill development using the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), which provided information on skill development over time. Parents taped home parent-child reading sessions, and tapes were coded to look at specific reading strategies. Parents were interviewed about home literacy factors including amount of time spent in parent-child reading, reading materials in the home, reading strategies used, and parental reading habits. Teachers were interviewed about classroom variables including type of curriculum and time spent on early literacy instruction. Findings included significant differences on oral reading fluency slopes for the first grade at-risk and comparison groups. Limitations of the study, implications for professional practice and suggestions for future research are also discussed.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Special education|Literacy|Reading instruction

Recommended Citation

O'Reilly, Mary Jean, "The early literacy skill development of kindergartners and first graders at -risk for externalizing behavior disorders" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3068583.