A study of specific word attack competencies of third grade students

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1974

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Abstract

The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between competency/performance on a word attack skills test and performance on a standardized test to vocabulary and comprehension of third grade students to determine which, if any, of the word attack skills were significantly associated with vocabulary and comprehension achievement. The statistical analyses used in this study also allowed for a hierarchal arrangement of each word attack skill used in the study. The level of significance used to accept or reject the null hypotheses was .01. Data for the study were provided by 371 students from 15 randomly chosen third grade classrooms. The total population from which the sample was chosen was 3,344 third grade students in two school districts adjacent to Houston, Texas. The population represented a wide range of students both economically and racially. Participants in the study were administered the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests, Primary 0, Form 1 and a competency-based word attack test constructed by the investigator. The standard scores for vocabulary and comprehension derived on the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests were used as dependent variables. Raw scores on the competency-based word attack test were converted to standard scores and used as independent variables. Stepwise regression analyses were used to compute a sequence of multiple linear regression equations in a stepwise manner. At each step the variable which made the greatest reduction in the error sum of squares was added to the regression equation. The investigation tested the following null hypotheses: 1. There is no significant relationship between a student's vocabulary score and a student's competency on any of the specific word attack skills used in this study. 2. There is no significant relationship between a student's comprehension score and a student's competency on any of the specific word attack skills used in this study. 3. There is no significant sub-set among this set of word attack skills related to performance on a standardized reading vocabulary test. 4. There is no significant sub-set among this set of word attack skills related to performance on a standardized reading comprehension test. On the basis of the analysis and within the limitations of this investigation the following conclusions were supported: 1. Significant relationships were found between performance on a standardized vocabulary reading test and performance on a competency-based test of specific word attack skills on 28 of 32 word attack skills that were used in this study. 2. Significant relationships were found between performance on a standardized comprehension reading test and performance on a competency-based test of specific word attack skills on 30 of 32 word attack skills that were used in this study. 3. A significant hierarchal list of 11 word attack skills for vocabulary was identified from among the specific word attack skills used in this study. 4. A significant hierarchal list of 13 word attack skills for comprehension was identified from among the specific word attack skills used in this study. While a relationship between tvro variables does not demonstrate, or allow one to infer that one of the qualities causes the other to occur, the possibility that one does cause the other comes immediately to attention. At the present there is no knowledge to reject a causal inference that the word attack skills identified here are significantly related to reading vocabulary and reading comprehension achievement. Therefore, two types of recommendations were made: (1) One of the recommendations is concerned with additional research that would maximally extend our knowledge of the findings of this study, including studies that would strengthen any causal inference. (2) The other recommendation is concerned with actions to be taken by teachers on the basis of these results alone. Recommendations for future research. 1. First priority must be placed on the development of improved measures of the word attack skills. The present study used tests of each skill that were adequate, technically, for the purposes of this research. Longer, more reliable, and accurate measures, however, will be needed for the careful research to follow. 2. Studies should be made with various ethnic groups, ages, grade levels, geographical locations, etc. to examine how generalized these findings can be. 3. Studies should be made to help answer the question, 'Do word attack skills help in high school or college as a remedial technique for persons who are weak in reading vocabulary and reading comprehension?' 4. Experimental studies on the findings of this research should be made.

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