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ERIC Number: ED562086
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 16
Core Academic Language Skills: Moving beyond Vocabulary Knowledge to Predict Reading Comprehension
Uccelli, Paola; Galloway, Emily Phillips; Kim, Ha Yeon; Barr, Christopher D.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
Despite a longstanding awareness of academic language as a pedagogically-relevant research area, the construct of academic language proficiency--understood as a more comprehensive set of skills than just academic vocabulary--has remained only vaguely specified. This study examines the potential--for both research and practice--of a more inclusive operationalization of an academic language proficiency construct. The authors refer to this operational construct as Core Academic Language Skills (CALS). This study explores the relationship of cross-disciplinary academic language skills and reading comprehension in a socioeconomically diverse crosssectional sample of students from 4th and 6th grade. The following two research questions guided the study: (1) Do 4th and 6th-grade students' core academic language skills--as measured by the CALS-I--vary by students' grade or socioeconomic status?; and (2) Controlling for socio-demographic characteristics, word recognition & decoding, and academic vocabulary knowledge, are 4th and 6th-grade students' cross-disciplinary academic language skills --as measured by the CALS-I--predictive of students' reading comprehension scores? A total of 282 students--85 4th graders and 197 6th graders--were included in this study. Two main hypotheses are tested in this study, First, the authors hypothesized that CALS-I scores would capture individual variability in core academic language skills within and across grades, with students in 6th grade outperforming students in 4th grade, and students from more privileged SES environments outperforming their peers from less privileged backgrounds. Second, the main hypothesis tested by this study was whether CALS-I scores would be predictive of reading comprehension above and beyond the contribution of socio-demographic status, basic word-level reading skills, and academic vocabulary knowledge. To test these hypotheses, data from a socio-economically diverse sample of 4th- and 6th-grade students was collected via group-administered assessments. Reading comprehension, was measured with the RISE Reading Comprehension Subtest and was used as outcome variable in the regression analyses. All participants completed the following group-administered assessments: (1) Reading Inventory and Scholastic Evaluation (RISE); (2) WG Academic Vocabulary test; and (3) Core Academic Language Skills Instrument (CALS-I). This study resides in having identified and empirically tested an initial set of high-utility cross-disciplinary academic language skills associated with text comprehension. This study advances the understanding of school-relevant language skills beyond the narrow definition of academic vocabulary and contributes relevant information for the design of more comprehensive interventions that provide cognitively demanding yet linguistically accessible and productive instruction. The following are appended: (1) References; and (2) Tables and Figures.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools; Grade 4; Intermediate Grades; Grade 6
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)