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Part II
Who Are We Talking About?

Who has reading difficulties and what are the factors present in early childhood that predict failure and success in reading? Part II addresses these questions.

Large numbers of school-age children, including children from all social classes, have significant difficulties in learning to read. To clarify this statement, we outline a number of conceptual issues in identifying and measuring reading difficulties in young children. Categorical and dimensional approaches to estimating reading difficulties are presented, as are prevalence figures.

In a study on preventing reading difficulties, however, it is not enough to assess actual reading difficulties. Ideally, we want to know which children or groups of children will have problems learning to read when they are in school and given reading instruction. Effective preventions are necessary for children to receive in their preschool years, in some cases even starting in infancy—for example, for children with hearing impairments. Thus, there is a need to know what factors predict success and failure in learning to read. We consider predictors that are:



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OCR for page 85
Page 85 Part II Who Are We Talking About? Who has reading difficulties and what are the factors present in early childhood that predict failure and success in reading? Part II addresses these questions. Large numbers of school-age children, including children from all social classes, have significant difficulties in learning to read. To clarify this statement, we outline a number of conceptual issues in identifying and measuring reading difficulties in young children. Categorical and dimensional approaches to estimating reading difficulties are presented, as are prevalence figures. In a study on preventing reading difficulties, however, it is not enough to assess actual reading difficulties. Ideally, we want to know which children or groups of children will have problems learning to read when they are in school and given reading instruction. Effective preventions are necessary for children to receive in their preschool years, in some cases even starting in infancy—for example, for children with hearing impairments. Thus, there is a need to know what factors predict success and failure in learning to read. We consider predictors that are:

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Page 86 ·      intrinsic to the individual and would be identified by assessing the child; ·      identified in the family environment; and ·      associated with the larger environment of the child—the neighborhood, school, and community in which the child lives.