Rhythm production at school entry as a predictor of poor reading and spelling at the end of first grade
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionLundetræ, K., Thomson, J.M. (2017) Rhythm production at school entry as a predictor of poor reading and spelling at the end of first grade. Reading and writing. 31(1), pp. 215-237. 10.1007/s11145-017-9782-9
Rhythm plays an organisational role in the prosody and phonology of language, and children with literacy difficulties have been found to demonstrate poor rhythmic perception. This study explored whether students’ performance on a simple rhythm task at school entry could serve as a predictor of whether they would face difficulties in word reading and spelling at the end of grade 1. The participants were 479 Norwegian 6-year-old first graders randomized as controls in the longitudinal RCT on track (n = 1171). Rhythmic timing and pre-reading skills were tested individually at school entry on a digital tablet. On the rhythm task, the students were told to tap a drum appearing on the screen to two different rhythms (2 Hz paced and 1.5 Hz paced). Children’s responses were recorded as they tapped on the screen with their index finger. Significant group differences were found in rhythm tapping ability measured at school entry, when groups were defined upon whether children went on to score above or below the 20th percentile reading and spelling thresholds in national assessment tests at the end of grade one. Inclusion of the school-entry rhythmic tapping measure into a model of classification accuracy for above or below threshold reading and spelling improved accuracy of classification by 6.2 and 9.2% respectively.