University of Iowa

Differentiating Literacy Growth of ELL Students With LD from Other High-Risk Subgroups and General Education Peers: Evidence from Grades 3-10


The authors used a large data set (N = 1,011,549) to examine literacy growth over a single school year comparing general education (GenEd) students to three high-risk subgroups: English language learners (ELL), those with a specific learning disability (LD), and those identified as both LD and ELL (LD-ELL) in students in Grades 3-10. The authors were particularly interested in whether variability existed between initial status and the growth trajectories of the three high-risk groups on measures of spelling, fluency, and reading comprehension across the school year and whether this variability was differentiated because of socioeconomic status (SES) as defined by free and reduced lunch (FRL) status. Results indicate that all high-risk groups began the year at substantially lower levels than their GenEd peers, with the largest differences seen between the LD-ELL students and the other subgroups. Further results suggest that students who are in the high-risk subgroups and also qualify for FRL perform significantly worse than their peers in similar risk status groups who do not qualify for FRL, demonstrating the significant impact of SES on academic outcomes for all groups.


Solari, E., Petscher, Y., & Folsom, J. (2012). Differentiating literacy growth of ELL students with LD from other high-risk subgroups and general education peers: Evidence from grades 3-10. Journal of Learning Disabilities, XX(X), 1-20. doi: 10.1177/0022219412463435

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