Predictors of word reading ability in seven year olds: analysis of data from a UK cohort study
Journal of Research in Reading
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Background Previous UK population-based studies have found associations between early speech and language difficulties, socio-economic disadvantage and children’s word reading ability later on (Feinstein, 2003; Rutter et al., 1975; Sullivan & Brown, 2013). We examine the strength of these associations in a recent UK population-based birth cohort. Methods Analyses were based on 13680 participants. Linear regression models were fitted to identify factors that were associated with word reading score at age seven years. Path analysis models were fitted to examine phonological skills as a mediator of the relationships. Results Male gender, pre-term birth, naming vocabulary at age five, concerns about speech and language, maternal education, type of housing tenure, lone parenting, parent attachment and frequency of reading to the child were all independently associated with word reading. For each of these predictors, there was evidence suggesting a substantial proportion of the effect may be mediated by phonological skills (ranging from 52% to 89%). Conclusion Despite policy intervention, many of the same risk factors identified in previous studies still predict children’s word reading ability in the UK. Results support the phonological model, with phonological skills on the pathway to word reading.
This work was funded by the ESRC's Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (grant number ES/K003356/1). We would like to thank the MCS families for their time and cooperation, as well as the MCS team at the Institute of Education, London, United Kingdom. Obi Ukoumunne is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) for the South West Peninsula at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health in England.
Vol. 41 (1), pp. 58-78