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Abstract

Poor literacy achievement among English learners has contributed significantly to their high dropout rates, poor job prospects, and high poverty rates. The National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth has suggested that English learners benefit from the same direct, systematic instruction in the five essential components of reading shown effective for native-English-speaking students: phonemic awareness, phonics, oral reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Implementing effective reading instructional practices for English learners may reduce the literacy achievement gap between English learners and native English speakers. In this study, we used multiple regression to examine data for 1,376 third-grade Latino English learners to determine the strength of oral English proficiency, oral reading fluency, and academic vocabulary knowledge as predictors of reading comprehension proficiency. Findings of this study indicate a mismatch between English learners’ instructional needs and a widely used reading program component, assessment of words correct per minute (as a measure of oral reading fluency). Significant conclusions of this study suggest that educators seeking to promote the reading comprehension proficiency of Latino English learners consider using WCPM assessments and activities cautiously and strive to allocate more time for instruction and assessment of the prosodic dimension of oral reading fluency and academic vocabulary knowledge and skills.

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