A Reading-Level Design Study of Phonological Skills Underlying Fourth-Grade Children's Word Reading Difficulties


  • This research was supported in part by the Australian Research Council (grant A78832058). We thank Julie Hansen and the reviewers for their helpful comments on this paper.

Address correspondence to J. A. Bowey, Department of Psychology, University of Queensland, Queensland 4072, Australia.


A 3-group reading-level design was used to investigate phonological analysis, verbal working memory, and pseudoword reading performance in less skilled fourthgrade readers. Children were given phonological oddity tasks assessing their sensitivity to subsyllabic and phonemic units, together with standardized tests of verbal working memory and pseudoword reading. Less skilled fourth-grade readers performed lower than both chronological age and reading-level controls on the phonological oddity and pseudoword reading tests. Less skilled fourth-grade readers performed at the same level as skilled second-grade readers on a test of verbal working memory. Skilled fourth-grade readers scored higher than both other groups on this test. Correlational analyses were consistent with the view that phonological analysis skills contribute more strongly than verbal working memory skills to children's decoding abilities.