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Psycholinguistics and the Prediction of Reading Achievement

Cocking, Rodney R.; Potts, Marion
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Office of Education, Elementary School Students, Language Acquisition, Metropolitian Reading Readiness Tests, Predictive Validity, Preschool Children, Psycholinguistics, Reading Readiness Tests, Stanford Achievement Tests, Syntax


Knowing lots of words does not mean that the 3- to 5-year-old child knows much about "language" (defined as a system of relations). Since many linguistic constructions are in the repertoires of children of ages 5 to 6, it seemed fruitful to investigate the cognitive economy of the transfer of this rule system to learning to read. Thus, where former studies had looked at the prediction of reading scores on basis of word knowledge, the present research focused upon the predictive ability of a test of syntactic knowledge. Stanford Reading Achievement and Syntactic Production Test data were collected for 65 first graders. Metropolitan Reading Readiness Test data from the previous year and Language Comprehension data were avilable for most of the subjects. The reading test/ production test correlation (r = .54) was significant beyond the .001 level. The low relationship (r = .34, p < .05 > .01) between the Metropolitan Reading Readiness Test and the production test supported the premise that the two instruments tested different areas of development. The results were interpreted as confirmation of the hypothesis that command of syntax (structural knowledge) is a useful predictor of success in learning to read. (21pp.)

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