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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A longitudinal examination of the persistence of late emerging reading disabilities Etmanskie, Jill Merita


Some children encounter unexpected difficulty in reading skills in the fourth grade. This phenomenon has been described as late emerging reading disabilities (LRD). Using grade 4 as a starting point, this study tracked the reading development of 177 children identified as poor readers. Each child was paired with a typical reader matched for age, gender, school, and language background, and compared longitudinally from kindergarten to seventh grade across numerous reading and reading-related measures. Longitudinal data were used to answer these specific questions: How many children had reading problems emerging for the first time in grade 4? Did the late emerging poor readers perform differently on measures administered in grades 4 to 7? How persistent was the nature of their reading problems beyond grade 4? Do early indicators of late emerging reading disabilities exist? The results from this study indicated that very few children experienced persistent late emerging reading problems and that overall, children appeared to steadily improve from what has been traditionally referred to as the “fourth grade slump.” The results also suggested that more research was needed to reliably determine early identifiers of late emerging problems.

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