The differential effect of anxiety on reading achievement in upper elementary grade students with reading difficulty




Fishstrom, Sarah

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This study addresses the relation between anxiety and reading achievement through an examination of two issues: (1) determining the relations among self-reported reading anxiety, general anxiety, and test anxiety measures in a sample of upper elementary grade students with reading difficulties, and (2) exploring whether reading anxiety, test anxiety, and general anxiety differentially predict reading achievement (overall and based on quantile scores) on word reading, fluency, and comprehension measures in a sample of struggling readers in the upper elementary grades (third, fourth, and fifth- grade students). Data were collected at one time point (pretest only) from three cohorts of students (n = 536) prior to implementation of the intervention. Ordinary least squares regression and unconditional quantile regression approaches were used in order to better understand the relation along a distribution of reading ability. Results showed that the three anxiety measures were positively and statistically significantly related to each other (ranging from .51 to .56, p < .001). Ordinary least squares regression estimates yielded a negative and statistically significant relation between reading anxiety and two of three timed measures of reading, but not on the untimed measures. Unconditional quantile regression estimates show an association between reading anxiety and reading achievement at higher quantiles. Hypothesized results reveal a stronger correlation between reading anxiety and reading achievement than between the other anxiety measures (general anxiety and test anxiety) and reading achievement. However, the hypothesis that the lowest quantile of students in reading ability would reveal the strongest prediction between reading anxiety and reading outcomes was not confirmed. The findings revealed that anxiety did not predict reading outcomes for students in the lowest quantile but did predict the relation for the upper quantiles. The results from this study may help to support future reading interventions efforts, by better understanding different subgroups of struggling readers where anxiety differentially predicts reading achievement outcomes.


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