Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Amy D. Broemmel

Committee Members

Sherry Mee Bell, Richard L. Allington, Steve McCallum


Numerous investigations of reading ability have identified students who demonstrate adequate oral reading fluency rates but fail to reflect understanding on measures of reading comprehension (Buly & Valencia, 2002; Catts, Compton, Tomblin, & Bridges, 2012; Hamilton & Shinn, 2003; Jenkins, Hudson, & Johnson, 2007; Jorm, 1983; Meisinger, Bradley, Schwanenflugel, Kuhn, & Morris, 2009; Morris, 1998; Torppa et al., 2007). This group of struggling readers is sometimes referred to as word callers; however, there has been debate among scholars (Hamilton & Shinn, 2003; Stanovich, 1993) regarding whether such a group exists, if the term is a misnomer (Spencer, Quinn, & Wagner, 2014), or if the label is too broad (Stanovich, 1993). Word callers are typically defined by their performance on two factors, reading fluency and reading comprehension. So far, researchers have mainly focused on data from common, universal assessments to determine the existence of word callers. In this investigation data-mining techniques were used to determine if word callers exist among a sample of first through fourth grade students attending a Tennessee school district. Identification was based on criteria requiring a reading fluency score that is a minimum of 14.04 Normal Curve Equivalent points greater than a student’s reading comprehension score. A small number of word callers were identified using a single assessment, the STAR-Reading Assessment (Renaissance Learning, Inc., 2015), which includes both reading fluency and reading comprehension scores. Instructional implications of this research are important, as the earlier that word callers are identified, the easier their challenges are to remediate (Catts, 1997; Johnson, Jenkins, Petscher, & Catts, 2009; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998; Torgesen, 2002).

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