How vocabulary knowledge of middle-school students from low socioeconomic backgrounds influences comprehension processes and outcomes Academic Article uri icon


  • 2015 Elsevier Inc. The influence of poverty on reading achievement begins early in life and accrues over time. Vocabulary knowledge, in particular, is subject to the cumulative disadvantages of poverty and, in turn, has a potent and negative impact on reading comprehension. In the present study, we used path analysis to examine how vocabulary directly and indirectly influenced the reading comprehension of seventh and eighth graders who qualified for free or reduced-price school meals. Findings from a multicomponent model indicated that vocabulary ( = .40) and inferential comprehension ( = .30) had the largest direct effects on reading comprehension. Moreover, vocabulary influenced comprehension indirectly through sentence-comprehension efficiency and inferential comprehension. Findings suggest that the impact of poverty permeates reading comprehension through complex and nuanced paths.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Oslund, E. L., Clemens, N. H., Simmons, D. C., Smith, S. L., & Simmons, L. E.

citation count

  • 14

complete list of authors

  • Oslund, Eric L||Clemens, Nathan H||Simmons, Deborah C||Smith, Stacey L||Simmons, Leslie E

publication date

  • January 2016