Purpose: To examine concurrently and retrospectively the language abilities of children with specific reading comprehension deficits ("poor comprehenders") and compare them to typical readers and children with specific decoding deficits ("poor decoders").
Method: In Study 1, the authors identified 57 poor comprehenders, 27 poor decoders, and 98 typical readers on the basis of 8th-grade reading achievement. These subgroups' performances on 8th-grade measures of language comprehension and phonological processing were investigated. In Study 2, the authors examined retrospectively subgroups' performances on measures of language comprehension and phonological processing in kindergarten, 2nd, and 4th grades. Word recognition and reading comprehension in 2nd and 4th grades were also considered.
Results: Study 1 showed that poor comprehenders had concurrent deficits in language comprehension but normal abilities in phonological processing. Poor decoders were characterized by the opposite pattern of language abilities. Study 2 results showed that subgroups had language (and word recognition) profiles in the earlier grades that were consistent with those observed in 8th grade. Subgroup differences in reading comprehension were inconsistent across grades but reflective of the changes in the components of reading comprehension over time.
Conclusions: The results support the simple view of reading and the phonological deficit hypothesis. Furthermore, the findings indicate that a classification system that is based on the simple view has advantages over standard systems that focus only on word recognition and/or reading comprehension.