Behavioral Problems and Reading Difficulties Among Language Minority and Monolingual Urban Elementary School Students

Margaret E. Pierce, Adrianna Wechsler-Zimring, Gil Noam, Maryanne Wolf, Tami Katzir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the potentially compounding effect of language minority (LM) status on problem behaviors among urban second and third grade-level poor readers. Univariate analyses showed that a disproportionate percentage of both LM and English monolingual (L1) poor readers already displayed clinically significant levels of anxiety, social problems, and oppositional behaviors in the classroom. Analyses of variance, however, demonstrated that LM status was not an additive risk factor for reading difficulties, behavior problems, or lowered self-concept in this sample. No differences were observed between LM and L1 students on a wide range of reading measures, on their teachers' ratings of internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors in the classroom, or on self-ratings of self-efficacy and social competence. Implications for intervention for all urban students with reading difficulties are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-205
Number of pages24
JournalReading Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grant CFDA #84.305W from the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, awarded under the Interagency Education Research Initiative (IERI), and by funding from The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. The authors would like to thank Michael Kieffer and Christopher A. Kearney for thoughtful feedback on early drafts of this manuscript. We would also like to thank Sally Wilson and the teachers and students at the participating schools for their support of this project.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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