Educational and Learning Disabilities Research

Kennedy Krieger Institute is a leader in learning, communication, cognitive disorders and educational research, spanning disciplines from basic neuroscience through clinical science and education. Several educational research projects at Kennedy Krieger also participate in NICHD funded projects.

Current educational research projects range from a collaborative research effort with the Haskins Laboratories and Educational Testing Service to investigate the educational and neurobiological underpinnings of reading disabilities in adolescents, to a longitudinal investigation of mathematics skills in youngsters with math disabilities.

Visit Kennedy Krieger Institute's new reading research website.

The Neurobiology of Reading and Reading Disabilities: Emphasis on Comprehension in Grades 4-8

Being able to read is a fundamental skill that affects all areas of a person's life. Difficulty with reading and reading comprehension has serious consequences. It is not only a sign of how well a student will do with school, but it can influence the types of jobs offered and whether future educational goals are attainable.

Research has shown that:

  • Approximately 15-20 percent of beginning readers (K-3) have poor word reading skills (poor decoders).
  • Approximately 10-25 percent of older readers (10 years and above) have normal word reading abilities, although they have problems with comprehension. This is about three percent of the school age population.

Additional research has shown that systematically teaching phonics and the alphabetic principle greatly lowers the risk of reading disability in young children (K-3).

However, less research has looked at understanding what other skills (in addition to word reading) are essential for reading comprehension. This is an important area of research, especially for children who have problems with comprehension despite normal word reading ability.

Furthermore, there is a small yet growing body of literature with the primary focus of studying how the brain processes information during comprehension tasks. The purpose of this research is to see whether differences exist between readers of varying ability, and if these differences can change after receiving reading instruction.

The ultimate goal of the National Institutes of Health (NICHD)-funded reading-related research at Kennedy Krieger Institute is to:

  1. Identify the strengths/weaknesses of struggling readers across a variety of skills
  2. Identify the tests that will be the most accurate at identifying these readers
  3. Most importantly, identify reading interventions that will help these struggling readers and get them reading at their full potential

For more information, please select the option that best meets your needs below:

  • I would like to learn more about becoming a participant in a reading research study of children and adolescents at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.
  • I would like to learn more about having my school/school system involved with reading research at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Math Skills Development Project (MSDP)

Sponsor: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Neurofibromatosis Foundation, 1998-99, Neurofibromatosis Foundation Inc. - Mid-Atlantic Chapter (2000-01)

Principal Investigator:Michele M. M. Mazzocco, Ph.D.

The Math Skills Development Project is a longitudinal study of math ability and achievement during the early school years. The broad, long-term objectives of this project are to contribute toward understanding early math ability, math disability (MD) and MD subtypes. We are interested in knowing how cognitive, behavioral and genetic factors contribute toward successful mathematics achievement. We are also dedicated to understanding the different processes associated with poor math achievement and to identifying early indicators (in kindergarten or first grade) of later poor math achievement.