Using semantics, grammar, phonology, and rapid naming tasks to predict word identification

Donald D. Hammill, Nancy Mather, Elizabeth A. Allen, Rhia Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


This study investigated the relative importance of semantic, grammatical, phonological, and rapid naming abilities in predicting word identification in a large, representative sample of children enrolled in first through sixth grade, using correlation, factor analysis, multiple regression, and predictive outcome analysis techniques. Composite measures of these abilities were found to correlate significantly with word identification, even after controlling for the effects of nonverbal intelligence. Factor analysis indicated that the spoken language composites and the word identification composite loaded on one factor, whereas the perceptual speed composites loaded on a second factor. Multiple regression analyses showed that among younger children in the early stages of learning to read and children whose word identifying skills were below average, the phonology and rapid naming composites accounted for the most variance in predicting word identification skills. Among older children and children who were proficient in word identification, the semantics composite accounted for the most variance. The most important analyses in this study (i.e., the calculations of the sensitivity indexes, the specificity indexes, and the positive predictive values) evaluated the practical value of using the composites to predict poor word identification skills in children. To be considered practically useful, all predictive outcome values had to be .75 or greater. None of the composites studied, including an application of the double-deficit hypothesis, met this criterion. The results from this study question the accuracy and utility of using any of the abilities studied to predict which students are at risk for or have poor word identification skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-136
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of learning disabilities
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Health Professions(all)


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