Socioeconomic and gender group differences in early literacy skills: a multiple-group confirmatory factor analysis approach

Lee, Julia Ai Cheng and Al Otaiba, Stephanie (2015) Socioeconomic and gender group differences in early literacy skills: a multiple-group confirmatory factor analysis approach. Educational Research and Evaluation: An International Journal on Theory and Practice, 21 (1). pp. 40-59. ISSN 1380-3611 (Print), 1744-4187 (Online)


Download (271kB) | Preview


Socioeconomic status and gender are important demographic variables that strongly relate to academic achievement. This study examined the early literacy skills differences between 4 sociodemographic groups, namely, boys ineligible for free or reduced-price lunch (FRL), girls ineligible for FRL, boys eligible for FRL, and girls eligible for FRL. Data on kindergarteners (N = 462) were analysed using multiplegroup confirmatory factory analysis. Early literacy skill differences between boys and girls are more nuanced than previously reported; subsidy status and gender interact. Both boys and girls from high-poverty households performed significantly lower than the girls from low-poverty households in alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, and spelling. There were gender gaps, with a female advantage, among children from high-poverty households in alphabet knowledge and spelling and among children from low-poverty households in alphabet knowledge. These results highlight the importance of employing methodologically sound techniques to ascertain group differences in componential early literacy skills.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Adams, M. J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Al Otaiba, S., Connor, C. M., Folsom, J. S., Greulich, L., Meadows, J., & Li, Z. (2011). Assessment data-informed guidance to individualize kindergarten reading instruction: Findings from a clusterrandomized control field trial. The Elementary School Journal, 111, 535–560. Al Otaiba, S., Puranik, C. S., Rouby, D. A., Greulich, L., Sidler, J. F., & Lee, J. (2010). Predicting kindergarteners’ end-of-year spelling ability based on their reading, alphabetic, vocabulary, and phonological awareness skills, as well as prior literacy experiences. Learning Disability Quarterly, 33, 171–183. Arnold, D. H., & Doctoroff, G. L. (2003). The early education of socioeconomically disadvantaged children. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 517–545. Benjamini, Y., & Hochberg, Y. (1995). Controlling the false discovery rate: A practical and powerful approach to multiple testing. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series B (Statistical Methodology), 57, 289–300. Blachman, B. A. (2000). Phonological awareness. In M. L. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research (pp. 483–502). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Bowey, J. A. (1995). Socioeconomic status differences in preschool phonological sensitivity and firstgrade reading achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87, 476–487. Brooks-Gunn, J., & Duncan, G. J. (1997). The effects of poverty on children. The Future of Children: Children and Poverty, 7, 55–71. Brown, T. A. (2006). Confirmatory factor analysis for applied research. New York, NY: Guilford Press. Browne, M.W., & Cudeck, R. (1993). Alternative ways of assessing model fit. In K. A. Bollen & J. S. Long (Eds.), Testing structural equation models (pp. 136–162). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Byrne, B., & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1993). Recognition of phoneme invariance by beginning readers: Confounding effects of global similarity. Reading and Writing, 5, 315–324. Byrne, B. M., &Watkins, D. (2003). The issue of measurement invariance revisited. Journal of Cross- Cultural Psychology, 34, 155–175. Catts, H. W., Petscher, Y., Schatschneider, C., Bridges, M. S., & Mendoza, K. (2009). Floor effects associated with universal screening and their impact on the early identification of reading disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 163–176. Chatterji, M. (2006). Reading achievement gaps, correlates, and moderators of early reading achievement: Evidence from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS) kindergarten to first grade sample. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 489–507. Cheung, G. W., & Rensvold, R. B. (2002). Evaluating goodness-of-fit indexes for testing measurement invariance. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 2, 233–255. Curran, P. J., West, S. G., & Finch, J. F. (1996). The robustness of test statistics to non-normality and specification errors in confirmatory factor analysis. Psychological Methods, 1, 16–29. Ehri, L. C., &Wilce, L. S. (1987). Does learning to spell help beginners learn to read words? Reading Research Quarterly, 22, 47–65. Educational Research and Evaluation 57 Downloaded by [Universiti Teknologi Malaysia] at 17:12 10 March 2015 Entwisle, D. R., Alexander, K. L., & Olson, L. S. (2007). Early schooling: The handicap of being poor and male. Sociology of Education, 80, 114–138. Finney, S. J., & DiStefano, C (2006). Non-normal and categorical data in structural equation modeling. In G. R. Hancock & R. O. Mueller (Eds.), Structural equation modeling: A second course (pp. 269–314). Greenwich, CT: Information Age. Fletcher, J. M., Lyon, G. R., Barnes, M., Stuebing, K. K., Francis, D. J., Olson, R. K.,…Shaywitz, B. A. (2002). Classification of learning disabilities: An evidence-based evaluation. In R. Bradley, L. Danielson, & D. P. Hallahan (Eds.), Identification of learning disabilities: Research to policy (pp. 185–250). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Francis, D. J., Shaywitz, S. E., Stuebing, K. K., Shaywitz, B. A., & Fletcher, J. M. (1996). Developmental lag versus deficit models of reading disability: A longitudinal, individual growth curves analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 3–17. Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L. S., Thompson, A., Al Otaiba, S., Yen, L., Yang, N. J.,…O’Connor, R. E. (2001). Is reading important in reading-readiness programs? A randomized controlled field trial with teachers as program implementers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 251–267. Gamoran, A. (Ed.). (2007). Standards-based reform and the poverty gap: Lessons for “No Child Left Behind” (pp. 3–16). Washington, DC: Brookings. Good, R. H., & Kaminski, R. A. (2002). Dynamic indicators of basic early literacy skills (6th ed.). Eugene, OR: Institute for Development of Educational Achievement. Hancock, G. R. (2001). Effect size, power, and sample size determination for structured means modeling and MIMIC approaches to between-groups hypothesis testing of means on a single latent construct. Psychometrika, 66, 373–388. Harper, S. N., & Pelletier, J. P. (2008). Gender and language issues in assessing early literacy: Group differences in children’s performance on the test of early reading ability. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 26, 185–194. Hirschfeld, G., & von Brachel, R. (2014). Multiple-group confirmation factor analysis in R-A tutorial in measurement invariance with continuous and ordinal indicators. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 19(7). Retrieved from Hu, L.-T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indices in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1–55. Hulme, C., & Snowling, M. J. (2013). The interface between spoken and written language: Developmental disorders. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 369: 20120395. Retrieved from Kaufman, A. S., & Kaufman, N. L. (2004). Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test manual, 2nd edition. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service Publishing. Kline, R. B. (2011). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. New York, NY: Guilford Press. Lee, J., Grigg,W., & Donahue, P. (2007). The nation’s report card: Reading 2007 (NCES 2007–496). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from 2007496.pdf MacDonald, G. W., & Cornwall, A. (1995). The relationship between phonological awareness and reading and spelling achievement eleven years later. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 28, 523–527. Matthews, J. S., Ponitz, C. C., & Morrison, F. J. (2009). Early gender differences in self-regulation and academic achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 689–704. McCoach, D. B., O’Connell, A. A., Reis, S. M., & Levitt, H. A. (2006). Growing readers: A hierarchical linear model of children’s reading growth during the first 2 years of school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 14–28. Mulligan, G. M., Hastedt, S., & McCarroll, J. C. (2012). First-time kindergartners in 2010–11: First findings from the kindergarten rounds of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 (ECLS-K:2011) (NCES 2012-049). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from Muthén, B., & Muthén, L. (1998-2010). Mplus (6.1) [Statistical software]. Los Angeles, CA: Authors. National Early Literacy Panel. (2008). Developing early literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy. National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. 58 J.A.C. Lee and S. Al Otaiba Downloaded by [Universiti Teknologi Malaysia] at 17:12 10 March 2015 O’Connor, R. E., & Jenkins, J. R. (1999). Prediction of reading disabilities in kindergarten and first grade. Scientific Studies of Reading, 3, 159–197. Raz, I. S., & Bryant, P. (1990). Social background, phonological awareness and children’s reading. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 8, 209–225. Ready, D. D., LoGerfo, L. F., Burkam, D. T., & Lee, V. E. (2005). Explaining girls’ advantage in kindergarten literacy learning: Do classroom behaviors make a difference? The Elementary School Journal, 106, 21–38. Ritchey, K. D. (2008). The building blocks of writing: Learning to write letters and spell words. Reading and Writing, 21, 27–47. Ritchey, K. D., & Speece, D. L. (2006). From letter names to word reading: The nascent role of sublexical fluency. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 31, 301–327. Santoro, L. E., Coyne, M. D., & Simmons, D. C. (2006). The reading-spelling connection: Developing and evaluating a beginning spelling intervention for children at risk of reading disability. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 21, 122–133. Schatschneider, C., Fletcher, J. M., Francis, D. J., Carlson, C., & Foorman, B. R. (2004). Kindergarten prediction of reading skills: A longitudinal comparative analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96, 265–282. Shinn, M. M., & Shinn, M. R. (2004). AIMSweb. Eden Prairie, MN: Edformation. Snow, C. E. (2006). What counts as early literacy in early childhood? In K. McCartney & D. Phillips (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of early childhood development (pp. 274–294). Malden, MA: Blackwell. Speece, D. L., Mills, C., Ritchey, K. D., & Hillman, E. (2003). Initial evidence that letter fluency tasks are valid indicators of early reading skill. Journal of Special Education, 36, 223–233. Tangel, D. M., & Blachman, B. A. (1992). Effect of phoneme awareness instruction on kindergarten children’s invented spelling. Journal of Reading Behavior, 24, 233–261. Thompson, M. S., & Green, S. B. (2006). Evaluating between-group differences in latent variable means. In G. R. Hancock & R. O. Mueller (Eds.), Structural equation modeling: A second course (pp. 119–170). Greenwich, CT: Information Age. Townsend, M., & Konold, T. R. (2010). Measuring early literacy skills: A latent variable investigation of the phonological awareness literacy screening for preschool. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 28, 115–128. Tucker, L. R., & Lewis, C. (1973). A reliability coefficient for maximum likelihood factor analysis. Psychometrika, 38, 1–10. Vellutino, F. R., Fletcher, J. M., Snowling, M. J., & Scanlon, D. M. (2004). Specific reading disability (dyslexia): What have we learned in the past four decades? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 2–40. Wagner, R. K., Torgesen, J. K., & Rashotte, C. A. (1999). Comprehensive test of phonological processing. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed. Wagner, R. K., Torgesen, J. K., Rashotte, C. A., Hecht, S. A., Barker, T. A., Burgess, S. R.,…Garon, T. (1997). Changing relations between phonological processing abilities and word-level reading as children develop from beginning to skilled readers: A 5-year longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 33, 468–479. West, J., Denton, K., & Germino-Hausken, E. (2000). America’s kindergartners: Findings from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, kindergarten class of 1998-99, fall 1998. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U. S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement.
Uncontrolled Keywords: early literacy skills; gender; socioeconomic status; multiple-group, unimas, university, universiti, Borneo, Malaysia, Sarawak, Kuching, Samarahan, ipta, education, research, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak confirmatory factor analysis; kindergarten
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Divisions: Academic Faculties, Institutes and Centres > Faculty of Cognitive Sciences and Human Development
Depositing User: Dr. Julia Ai Cheng Lee
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2016 02:34
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2016 06:55

Actions (For repository members only: login required)

View Item View Item