Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Daphne Greenberg, Ph.D. - Chair

Second Advisor

Laura D. Fredrick, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Robin D. Morris, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Nannette Commander, Ph.D.


Due to the paucity of research on struggling adult readers, researchers rely on child-based reading constructs and measures when investigating the reading skills of adults struggling with reading. The purpose of the two studies in this investigation was to evaluate the appropriateness of using child-based reading constructs and assessments with adults reading between the third- and fifth-grade levels. The first study examined whether measurement constructs behind reading-related tests for struggling adult readers are similar to what is known about measurement constructs for children. The sample included 371 adults, including 218 native English speakers and 153 English speakers of other languages. Using measures of skills and subskills, confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to test three theoretical measurement models of reading: an achievement model of reading skills, a core deficit model of reading subskills, and an integrated model containing achievement and deficit variables. Although the findings present the best measurement models, the contribution of this study is the description of difficulties encountered when applying child-based assumptions to developing measurement models for struggling adult readers. The second study examined the usefulness of the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP) Elision and Blending Words subtests (Wagner, Torgesen, & Rashotte, 1999) with struggling adult readers. The sample included 254 adults, including 207 native English speakers and 47 native Spanish speakers. Overall performance, subtest reliability, and subtest validity were evaluated for the participants. Analyses included comparisons of struggling adult readers to the CTOPP norm group as well as comparisons within the struggling adult readers by demographic characteristics of age, gender, special-education status, and native language. Compared to the norm group, struggling adult readers exhibited lower overall performance as well as lower subtest reliability and validity. Regardless of demographic grouping, subtest validity was low for struggling adult readers. Overall performance and subtest reliability differed for struggling adult readers depending on demographic grouping, particularly age and native language. This study raises concerns about the appropriateness of administering and interpreting Elision and Blending Words subtests with struggling adult readers. In conclusion, both studies caution the use of child-based reading constructs and assessments with struggling adult readers.