Cognitive Flexibility and Working Memory's Longitudinal Prediction of Reading Achievement

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Barnes, Zachary
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Middle Tennessee State University
Executive function skills have a direct link to reading comprehension (Carretti, Borella, Cornoldi, & De Beni, 2009). Specifically, cognitive flexibility and working memory have been shown as a significant contributor to reading comprehension (Cain, Oakhill, & Bryant, 2004; Cartwright, 2002). Understanding the link between cognitive flexibility, working memory, and reading achievement would allow researchers and educators to identify students in kindergarten who are at risk of reading difficulty. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-2011 (ECLS-K: 2011), cognitive flexibility and working memory were investigated to understand if those specific skills at kindergarten were predictive of reading achievement at the end of grade one, two, three, and four using multiple linear regression while controlling for socioeconomic status (SES) and gender. Results showed that working memory and cognitive flexibility were significant predictors for all time points, over and beyond Gender and SES. A second analysis was conducted to analyze the growth of reading achievement, working memory, and cognitive flexibility from kindergarten to fourth grade while investigating if students’ SES impacted the slope and intercept of the growth. Results showed that SES impacted the intercept and slope of cognitive flexibility.