Neri, N. C., & Retelsdorf, J. (2022). Do students with specific learning disorders with impairments in reading benefit from linguistic simplification of test items in science ? Exceptional Children , 89 (1), 23–41. https://doi.org/10.1177/00144029221094049
The impact of linguistic simplification on science content assessments for students with specific learning disabilities with reading impairments was examined. Linguistic simplification involved decreasing technical vocabulary in science texts.
Seventy students in grade 7 on the non-academic track in German schools participated. Thirty-five participants had a diagnosis of specific learning disability with impairments in reading. Students were categorized with SLD-IR if they showed impairments in reading ability but not cognitive ability. Most students’ first language was German (speaking primarily German at home).
Test items developed based on the curriculum of the non-academic track of the German schools were used to measure students’ science abilities. Two versions of the science items were developed; one had more linguistic complexity, while the other had less linguistic complexity. The German version of the Reading Comprehension Test for grades 1 to 7 (Version II) was used to measure reading comprehension. This test consisted of three subtests with 26 to 75 items each. Students’ cognitive abilities and demographic characteristics were also measured.
Students without SLD-IR performed better on both versions of the science items compared to their peers with SLD-IR. Decreased linguistic complexity did not provide a differential boost to students with SLD-IR.