Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Christopher Skinner

Committee Members

Sherry Bain, John Malone, R. Steve McCallum


In order to determine when and where reading skill differences between males and females emerge, the performance of 1,332 students from a rural school district in East Tennessee was evaluated on five reading measures from the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) across kindergarten through fifth grade. Students were administered Initial Sound Fluency (ISF), Letter Naming Fluency (LNF), Phoneme Segmentation Fluency (PSF), Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF), and Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) measures based on the DIBELS administration schedule.

A two-way repeated measures ANOVA with time of year (fall, winter, spring) serving as the within-subjects variable and gender (male, female) serving as the between-subjects variable was conducted at each grade level for each measure administered. However, in first grade, LNF was only administered at one time (fall). For this measure, an independent t-test was conducted. Significant differences were found in favor of females for all measures administered in kindergarten (ISF, LNF, PSF, NWF). Differences decreased to nonsignificance in first grade for LNF and NWF. While a significant female advantage persisted through first grade for PSF, the effect size decreased. For ORF, a significant female advantage did not emerge until third grade. This difference persisted through fourth grade, but decreased to nonsignificance in fifth grade. Discussion focuses on implications of these findings, limitations of the study, and directions for future research. Particular emphasis is placed on the implications of the findings regarding physiological-maturational and cultural-societal theories of gender differences in reading.

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