Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Paper presented at the annual meeting of the New England Educational Research Organization, May, 2014, Dover,VT


Purpose: Investigated correspondences between performance on an array of literacy and oral language abilities with the proficiency ratings on the reading portion of the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP).

Method: Tested 106 fifth-grade students on measures of word-level reading and oral language (i.e., vocabulary, syntax, discourse) near the time when students completed the NECAP assessment. Analyses of performance were conducted with three NECAP outcome groups (Above Proficient, Proficient, Nonproficient (combination of Partially Proficient and Substantially Below groups).

Results: Large effect sizes were obtained for differences in oral language and word-level reading skills among the three groups. Decoding, syntax and discourse each accounted for significant variance in state reading scores and differentiated NECAP reading proficiency groupings. Notably, students at all levels varied in their patterns of skills. The majority of Nonproficient students had low scores on word-level reading skills; yet 100% had weaknesses in syntax and/or discourse. Similarly, many students ranked as Proficient had word-level deficits; even more had oral language weaknesses.

Conclusions: Treatment of students’ reading weaknesses should be differentiated according to the specific needs of individual pupils. This practice should apply to all critical components of reading comprehension, including oral language skills in syntax and discourse.

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