Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology


Educational Psychology & Higher Education

First Committee Member

Scott A. Loe

Second Committee Member

W. Paul Jones

Third Committee Member

Joe Crank

Fourth Committee Member

LeAnn G. Putney

Fifth Committee Member

Bradley Donohue

Number of Pages



This study evaluated a population of young students with potential reading disabilities who participated in a large western school district's Reading Skills Development project from October 2012 to May 2013. The following questions were addressed: Are there cognitive differences between students who respond well to an intense Tier II reading intervention and those who make little progress? If so, which cognitive skills best discriminate between high and low responders? De-identified data was collected from 171 struggling readers in 1st through 3rd grade who participated in the Reading Skills project. After controlling for English proficiency level, high and low responders were compared on several reading-related cognitive skills measured by the Woodcock-Johnson III Test of Cognitive Abilities. Differences between high and low responders were found on Auditory Working Memory and Retrieval Fluency. Additionally, Auditory Working Memory was found to best discriminate between the high and low responder groups and was most predictive of overall reading growth. These results confirm and add to previous findings regarding the impact of working memory on learning and academic progress. Furthermore, they support the growing body of literature on using an assessment-based approach to inform interventions targeted to specific cognitive deficits, especially those deficits found to be predictive of progress such as working memory and long-term retrieval.


Cognitive Abilities Test; Learning disabilities; Reading disability; Reading


Cognitive Psychology | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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