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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

School Psychology

Year Degree Awarded

2014

First Advisor

William Matthews

Second Advisor

Amanda Marcotte

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Harvey

Subject Categories

Educational Psychology

Abstract

The present study examined the relationship between children's early literacy-related abilities and their reading achievement in late elementary school in the context of a Puerto Rican community in Massachusetts. The researcher examined four years of student achievement test data from the public elementary schools of Holyoke, Massachusetts. The city’s particular sociologic history makes it an interesting and fruitful case for investigating issues around language, culture, and test performance that, while uniquely expressed in Holyoke, share aspects in common with many locales across the United States. The researcher sought to determine the extent to which literacy assessments administered to Hispanic children in Holyoke under Reading First grants and NCLB’s high-stakes testing requirements measured the constructs they intended to measure, the value of the testing in terms of its ability to predict the students' performances on the state language arts exam in the fourth grade, and the way that children’s English language proficiency may have influenced the measures’ predictive ability as well as the students’ progress in acquiring age-appropriate literacy abilities. Confirmatory factor analysis techniques were used to assess the construct validity of literacy-related subtests for this sample. Finally, structural equation modeling was utilized to identify and test a model quantifying the relationships between subjects’ home language, early decoding ability, reading fluency rate and reading comprehension scores. Results suggest that although students whose home language is Spanish perform more poorly that those whose home language is English on both first and fourth grade reading tests, there was no group difference found in the degree to which the early literacy measures predicted their fourth-grade reading comprehension. A single factor comprised of a variety of first grade reading measures was able to account for 56% of the variance of the students’ performance on a reading comprehension state exam in the fourth grade.

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