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Vocabulary Maintenance of Seventh Grade Students with Learning Disabilities


Students with Learning Disabilities (LDs) have less extensive vocabularies than their typically developing peers (Simmons & Kameenui, 1990). This is a critical problem, as the importance of vocabulary knowledge in relation to reading comprehension is widely documented in the literature (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983; Stahl, 1983) and has been shown to enhance students’ comprehension of content area texts (Bos & Anders, 1990; O’Connor, Beach, Sanchez, Bocian, & Flynn, 2015). The reading demands placed on students’ increase as they enter middle school; however, vocabulary acquisition alone is not sufficient for garnering long-term reading comprehension outcomes. The literature demonstrates a need for students with disabilities to retain vocabulary knowledge in order to make gains on reading comprehension outcomes and accommodate the increased reading load experienced when transitioning to secondary school. However, vocabulary retention research is lacking for students with disabilities in the secondary grades. The vocabulary retention research that exists investigates vocabulary maintenance of elementary aged students. Moreover, the literature has failed to demonstrate the differences in vocabulary retention over time for English Learners (EL) with LDs. The purpose of this paper is to describe middle school English only and EL students’ vocabulary maintenance of taught vocabulary words across five-time points for students with LDs participating in a research-based vocabulary intervention. Results indicate that students in the treatment group were able to maintain vocabulary knowledge over time. Results will be discussed further in terms of implications, limitations, and future research.

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