Features of known and difficult words for students of different proficiency levels At different points of first grade

Features of known and difficult words for students of different proficiency levels At different points of first grade

First Author: Elfrieda Hiebert -- TextProject
Additional authors/chairs: 
Yukie Toyama; Robin Irey
Keywords: Word recognition processes, Grade One, Word Learning, Decoding, Assessment
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: New analytic schemes (e.g., Cutting, Saha, & Hasselbring, 2017) help generate in-depth descriptions of student word recognition patterns, contributing to both theoretical frameworks and instructional solutions. We examined features of words that are known and unknown by students of different proficiency levels at the middle and end of grade one.

Method: The database consisted of 445 students’ performances on six DIBELS ORF texts (three from winter; three from spring). Number of words read correctly per minute (WCPM) was established for each text and used to place students into quartile (Q) groups (Hasbrouck & Tindal, 2017). Additionally, individuals’ reading of each word was coded as correct, incorrect, or missing. Each word was analyzed on 30 features, including decoding complexity and age of acquisition (AoA). A word was judged as difficult if > 50% of a Q failed to read it correctly.

Results: As expected, ORF varied significantly across time and Q. Number of errors decreased from winter to spring for all Qs but, for the bottom Q, error rate remained high (28%). By contrast, for the top quartile, there were no words that > 50% of the Q read incorrectly at either timepoint.

U function was the only variable that consistently distinguished spring from winter performance for both known and unknown words within the three lowest Qs. Additional features that distinguished unknown from known words included higher AoA, more syllables, and more complex grapheme-phoneme vowel patterns.

Conclusions: For students in the bottom quartile particularly, insights into reading profiles are essential to identifying instructional solutions. Different groups’ capacities and needs will be discussed relative to the texts and curricula of interventions.