Exploring predictors of reading comprehension for English language learners
Oddone, Cameron Grace
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Past reading research with English Language Learners (ELLs) in elementary school suggests that a number of component factors contribute to reading comprehension performance. Although comprehensive models of reading comprehension have been proposed, such as the Simple View of Reading (SVR), which explains reading comprehension as the combination of decoding and linguistic comprehension, further research is required to determine if these models adequately describe reading performance for ELLs. The purpose of the present study was two-fold. First, seeing as a recently developed version of a sentence repetition task would be used in the present study as a potential predictor of reading comprehension, the researcher aimed to closely examine the roles that working memory and oral language play in English and Spanish versions of this sentence repetition task. Second, the sentence repetition task was incorporated, along with a comprehensive measure of English Language Proficiency (ELP), decoding, and working memory, to determine whether these predictors could combine to explain greater variance in reading comprehension than the SVR did alone. Eighty-four first- and second-grade ELL students were administered measures for all potential predictive variables, as well as reading comprehension. Results suggested that both working memory and oral language contributed to performance on the English sentence repetition task, but that only working memory was a significant contributor to performance on the Spanish sentence repetition task. When investigating the SVR, findings indicated that although the SVR was an adequate reading comprehension model, adding ELP and working memory significantly improved the percentage of variance in reading comprehension that was explained. These findings have implications for development of universal screening and progress monitoring tools utilized within schools for ELLs struggling with reading comprehension. Additionally, these findings emphasize the importance of ELP and working memory in reading comprehension outcomes for ELLs.