The importance of phonological processing skills for older low-progress readers

Kevin William Wheldall*, Simmone Porgorzelski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The important role of phonological awareness in learning to read has become widely accepted. The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of phonological processing skills when attempting to assist older low-progress readers to develop literacy skills. While researchers generally agree that the key variables in reading acquisition (letter sound knowledge and phonological awareness) influence a student’s ability to understand and implement the alphabetic principle, it is still unresolved, however, whether or not the absence of these variables is sufficient to categorise a student as dyslexic. Furthermore it is unclear as to whether or not the research on beginning reading practices should inform the development of instructional programs for older low-progress readers. Despite a move away from traditional discrepancy criteria towards a more phonologically based definition of reading disability, the current researchers conclude that the adoption of a non-categorical approach to reading disability is the most helpful for remediation practices for older low-progress readers. This contrasts with the current pursuit of some researchers to diagnose a set of underlying causes through the development of phonological testing batteries. It is concluded that reading disability is best understood by a continuum model, where the difficulties in reading are influenced by two major causal factors; phonological ability and quality of literacy learning environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalEducational Psychology in Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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