Predicting learning disabilities and reading ability from preschool cognitive processing tasks

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Marcia Strong Scott - Committee Chair


Twenty-seven preschool children with learning disabilities and 27 normally achieving controls were presented seven cognitive tasks and followed up three years later. The children with learning disabilities (based on their preschool placement status) performed at significantly lower levels than their normally achieving peers on nearly all the cognitive measures. As much as 74% of the group with learning disabilities and 78% of the normally achieving group could be correctly classified using the cognitive measures. Additionally, those children classified as LD at the time of follow-up had performed at significantly lower levels on four of the cognitive tasks when they were in preschool, in comparison to those children classified as normally achieving at follow-up. As many as 80% of the children with learning disabilities at follow-up and 89% of the children who were normally achieving at follow-up could be correctly classified on the basis of their performance on the cognitive tasks in preschool. The best preschool predictors of learning disability (both concurrently and predictively) were those tasks that involved verbal and language abilities. The cognitive tasks could not be used to differentiate reading ability groups in either the learning disabled or normally achieving groups.


Psychology, Developmental

Link to Full Text


Link to Full Text