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Performance of students with and without reading difficulties on decoding tasks

PURPOSE: To characterize the performance of students with and without reading difficulties in reading decoding tasks to investigate parameters that can facilitate reading assessment. METHODS: Forty-eight school children, from 7 to 10 years old, who attended 2nd to 4th of Elementary Schoolgrades were studied. Based on their teacher's information, the children were divided into two groups: without reading difficulty (WRDG) and with reading difficulty (RDG). Thirty-six linguistic items were selected (words and pseudowords) and presented whole or segmented (letters and syllables) to assess the children's reading. The data were compared and statistically analyzed by Mann-Whitney and Friedman Tests. The hits, as well as sensitivity and specificity, were calculated. RESULTS: WRDG had a better performance than RDG in all the tasks except whole pseudowords recognition. WRDG performed similarly in all the tasks. The RDG had more difficulty in reading pseudowords, particularly when presented syllable-by-syllable and letter-by-letter. Thirty-two point five proved to be a sensitive turning point: most of the children who decoded and read at least 32 items had been considered adequate by their teachers whereas most of those who did not had been classified by their teachers as having academic difficulty. CONCLUSION: The WRDG performance in decoding reading was homogeneous and better than that of the RDG. The RDG performed worse on reading segmented items, particulary on pseudowords.

Language; Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences; Language arts; Language development; Reading; Learning; Underachievement

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