, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 49-71

Does third grade discrepancy status predict the course of reading development?

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There is persisting debate concerning the use of an ability-achievement discrepancy formula to define and identify learning disabled—including reading disabled—students. This study employs mixed effects regression growth curve analysis to assess the developmental course of discrepant and nondiscrepant readers (within poor readers) who were identified in third grade and retested in fifth, eighth, and twelfth grades. The results showed that discrepancy status does not differentiate the developmental course of basic reading skills (word identification or decoding), reading comprehension, or underlying cognitive abilities (phonemic awareness and fluency) in poor readers. The ability-achievement discrepancy model is not supported. Educational and legislative reasons for the persisting difficulties of poor readers are explored and recommendations for changes in public policy are made.