Paris, 14 november 2013

Decoding, oral comprehension, vocabulary : three key literacy skills for primary schools in priority areas

What types of skills do first-year primary school children in education priority areas need most to learn to read? To find out, a team of researchers at CNRS and the universities of Grenoble, Paris Descartes and Aix-Marseille conducted a study of 394 children in ZEPs (1) administered by the Académie de Lyon at the end of their first year of school. The results show that, of all the factors involved in their reading comprehension skills, three played a predominant role: decoding ability, oral comprehension and vocabulary. Published in the November 8, 2013 issue of PloS ONE, these findings were obtained in collaboration with the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Geneva. The report also underlines the importance of evaluating and cultivating these skills starting in the first year of school in order to improve children's reading comprehension.

To download the press release : ZEP


(1) In the French educational system, primary and secondary schools in the Zones d'Education Prioritaires (priority education areas, or ZEPs) are given additional resources and greater autonomy to deal with exceptional academic and social difficulties. They were created by the French Ministry of Education in 1981 following an inter-ministerial order and were aimed at lowering dropout rates. While the ZEP program was officially discontinued in 2006-2007, replaced by other measures under different names (APV, RAR, CLAIR, ECLAIR, etc.), the acronym is still widely used within the French educational system.


Reading Comprehension in a Large Cohort of French First Graders from Low Socio-Economic Status Families: A 7-Month Longitudinal Study. Edouard Gentaz, Liliane Sprenger-Charolles, Anne Theurel, Pascale Colé, Research Article, published 08 Nov 2013, PLOS ONE 10.1371/journal.pone.0078608
View web site

For further reading:
Apprendre… Oui Mais Comment? (“Learn, of Course, But How?”) E. Gentaz (Ed). ANAE N 123 – special issue. 2013.
Apprendre à Lire (“Learning to Read”). S. Dehaene (Dir), G. Dehaene-Lambertz, E. Gentaz, C. Huron, and L. Sprenger-Charolles. Editions Odile Jacob, 2011.
Lecture et Dyslexie: Approche Cognitive (“Reading and Dyslexia: A Cognitive Approach,” second edition). L. Sprenger-Charolles and P. Colé. Editions Dunod, 2013.


CNRS researcher l Edouard Gentaz l T +33(0)6 08 84 47 92 l
CNRS press officer l Laetitia Louis l T +33(0)1 44 96 51 37 l


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