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Specific language impairment and school outcomes. I : Identifying and explaining variability at the end of compulsory education

Conti-Ramsden, G. and Durkin, K. and Simkin, Z. and Knox, E. (2009) Specific language impairment and school outcomes. I : Identifying and explaining variability at the end of compulsory education. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 44 (1). pp. 15-35. ISSN 1368-2822

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Abstract

This investigation reports the results of national educational examinations in secondary schooling for young people who have been participating in the Manchester Language Study. The emphasis of the study is on furthering understanding of educational outcomes at the end of compulsory education. A total of 120 adolescents with a history of specific language impairment (SLI) and 121 adolescents with typical development (TD) who were in their final year of compulsory secondary schooling (mean age = 17; 4 years) participated. National educational examination results throughout secondary schooling were collected along with a range of psycholinguistic skills from 11 to 16/17 years. Forty-four per cent of young people with SLI obtained at least one of the expected qualifications at the end of secondary education, indicating some improvements compared with reports on earlier cohorts. Regression analyses revealed that literacy and language skills were predictive of educational attainment after controlling for IQ and maternal education. Nearly one-quarter of the sample of adolescents with SLI was not entered for any examinations at the end of compulsory education. A very strong association between earlier patterns of entry for examinations and patterns of examination entry at school leaving age was found. In addition to performance IQ, concurrent and early literacy and language skills have significant effects on the academic attainments of young people with a history of SLI. The transition from primary to secondary schooling is a crucial time for assessment and evaluation of individual children's needs and levels of support required.