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Working paper

the Deficit of Phonological Processing Associated with both Maths and Reading Difficulties Rather than Separate Maths or Reading Difficulties

Ilyushina N., Kuzmina Y., Kaiky D.
In this study, we aimed to estimate the effect of phonological processing in the emergence of specific maths or combined maths and reading difficulties during the first year of schooling. We also estimated whether the high level of phonological processing could be a resource for coping with math difficulties. The study was conducted on a large sample of Russian first-graders (N=3296 pupils, mean age 7.3 years, 49% of them were girls). Pupils were tested twice, at the beginning and at the end of the first grade in their level of maths performance, reading performance, phonological processing, and number recognition skills. In each test, four groups of pupils were identified regarding their level of maths and reading performance: a group with mathematical difficulties only (MD), pupils with reading difficulties only (RD), pupils with both maths and reading difficulties (MDRD) and pupils without difficulties (TD). The probability to move into the MD group, the MDRD group and in the TD group was estimated for pupils regarding their group status at Time 1 and their level of phonological processing. Results revealed that at first grade, phonological processing did not correlate with specific maths difficulties, but associated with both maths and reading difficulties. At the same time, a high level of phonological processing may prevent typically developing pupils from moving into the MD group. Moreover, a high level of phonological processing increases the probability to move into the TD group for pupils who had specific maths difficulties at the start of schooling.