Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Susan Brady


School psychologists are confronted daily with the importance of reading ability for academic success. Illiteracy has been associated with drop out rates from school and with increased levels of welfare, unemployment and crime. Given the importance of reading, questions of how to identify and assign remedial assistance to children who are not learning to read also becomes important to school psychologists, who play a primary role in this process. In recent years, assignment of remedial assistance has often depended on obtaining a discrepancy between scores on measures of reading achievement and of general cognitive ability. Vocabulary knowledge is often a key component of the evaluation of general ability. Yet, current literature suggests that estimates of vocabulary knowledge for poor readers may vary depending on the method of assessment employed.

In the present study, the correspondence between reading skills and several measures of vocabulary was evaluated. It was hypothesized that vocabulary measures with a phonological emphasis would be more sensitive to individual differences in reading skill than would other vocabulary measures. Skilled and less-skilled readers at the second- and fifth-grade level were identified using the Word Attack portion of the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test - Revised. The Word Identification and Passage Comprehension subtests of the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test - Revised were also given. The relationship between these measures and several vocabulary measures was examined. The measures were the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test - Revised, a variation of the Boston Naming Test, and the Vocabulary subtest from the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children - Revised. The hypothesis that vocabulary measures with phonological demands would be more sensitive to reading group differences in vocabulary performance was supported. In second grade, skilled and less-skilled readers were comparable on all of the vocabulary measures except the version of the Boston Naming Test used, the only one requiring the production of a specific phonological label. In the fifth-grade sample, the less-skilled readers performed less well on all of the vocabulary measures, pointing to a widening gap in vocabulary knowledge between reading groups as children get older. These findings suggest that the pattern of association between reading skills and vocabulary measures changes over time. The implications of the results for assessment procedures used to allocate services for reading assistance are discussed.



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