Longitudinal Models of Reading Achievement of Students With Learning Disabilities and Without Disabilities

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Objective: Accurate estimation of developmental trajectories can inform instruction and intervention. We compared the fit of linear, quadratic, and piecewise mixed-effects models of reading development among students with learning disabilities relative to their typically developing peers. Method: We drew an analytic sample of 1,990 students from the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Kindergarten Cohort of 1998, using reading achievement scores from kindergarten through eighth grade to estimate three models of students’ reading growth. Results: The piecewise mixed-effects models provided the best functional form of the students’ reading trajectories as indicated by model fit indices. Results showed slightly different trajectories between students with learning disabilities and without disabilities, with varying but divergent rates of growth throughout elementary grades, as well as an increasing gap over time. Conclusions: These results highlight the need for additional research on appropriate methods for modeling reading trajectories and the implications for students’ response to instruction.

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