Cognitive Mediators of Reading Comprehension in Early Development

  • Scott L. Decker
  • Julia Englund Strait
  • Alycia M. Roberts
  • Emma Kate Wright


Although the empirical relationship between general intelligence and academic achievement is well established, that between specific cognitive abilities and achievement is less so. This study investigated the relationships between specific Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) cognitive abilities and reading comprehension across a large sample of children (N = 835) at different periods of reading development (grades 1–5). Results suggest select cognitive variables predict reading comprehension above and beyond basic reading skills. However, the relative importance of specific cognitive abilities in predicting reading comprehension differs across grade levels. Further analyses using mediation models found specific cognitive abilities mediated the effects of basic reading skills on reading comprehension. Implications for the important and dynamic role of cognitive abilities in predicting reading comprehension across development are discussed.


Assessment Intelligence Reading comprehension Cattell-Horn-Carroll Mediation 



The authors would like to thank the Woodcock-Muñoz Foundation for granting us permission to use the standardization data from the Normative Update of the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities, Third Edition and Tests of Achievement, Third Edition.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Scott L. Decker, Ph.D. previously received research and training grants from Riverside Publishing and the Woodcock-Munoz Foundation.

Julia Englund Strait, Ph.D. declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Alycia M. Roberts, Ph.D. previously received renumeration on a per-participant basis for testing subjects from Riverside Publishing.

Emma Kate Wright, M.A. declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human subjects were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants in the study. The current study used an existing data set. Individual consent was obtained in the original standardization study for the Normative Update of the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities, Third Edition and Tests of Achievement, Third Edition.


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Copyright information

© California Association of School Psychologists 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott L. Decker
    • 1
  • Julia Englund Strait
    • 2
  • Alycia M. Roberts
    • 3
  • Emma Kate Wright
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.School Psychology and Health Service Psychology ProgramsUniversity of Houston Clear LakeHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Rainbow Babies and Children’s HospitalUniversity HospitalsClevelandUSA

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