Achievement Gap in Reading Is Present as Early as First Grade and Persists through Adolescence

J Pediatr. 2015 Nov;167(5):1121-5.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.07.045. Epub 2015 Aug 29.


Objectives: To determine if differences between dyslexic and typical readers in their reading scores and verbal IQ are evident as early as first grade and whether the trajectory of these differences increases or decreases from childhood to adolescence.

Study design: The subjects were the 414 participants comprising the Connecticut Longitudinal Study, a sample survey cohort, assessed yearly from 1st to 12th grade on measures of reading and IQ. Statistical analysis employed longitudinal models based on growth curves and multiple groups.

Results: As early as first grade, compared with typical readers, dyslexic readers had lower reading scores and verbal IQ, and their trajectories over time never converge with those of typical readers. These data demonstrate that such differences are not so much a function of increasing disparities over time but instead because of differences already present in first grade between typical and dyslexic readers.

Conclusions: The achievement gap between typical and dyslexic readers is evident as early as first grade, and this gap persists into adolescence. These findings provide strong evidence and impetus for early identification of and intervention for young children at risk for dyslexia. Implementing effective reading programs as early as kindergarten or even preschool offers the potential to close the achievement gap.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Connecticut / epidemiology
  • Dyslexia / epidemiology
  • Dyslexia / physiopathology
  • Dyslexia / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intelligence / physiology*
  • Male
  • Reading*
  • Speech Perception / physiology*