The Deficit Profiles of Chinese Children with Reading Difficulties: a Meta-analysis

Peng Peng, Cuicui Wang, Sha Tao, Congying Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The current meta-analysis synthesized findings from profiling research on Chinese children with reading difficulties (RD). We reviewed a total of 81 studies published between 1964 and May 2015, representing a total of 9735 Chinese children. There are 982 effect sizes for the comparison between children with RD and age-matched typically developing (A-TD) children and 152 effect sizes for the comparison between children with RD and reading-level-matched typically developing (R-TD) children on multiple linguistic and cognitive skills. Results showed that compared to A-TD children, children with RD have severe deficits in morphological awareness, orthographic knowledge, phonological awareness, rapid naming, working memory, and visual skills and moderate deficits in short-term memory and motor skills. Compared to R-TD children, children with RD only have moderate deficits in rapid naming and mild deficits in orthographic knowledge. Moderation analyses for the comparison between RD and A-TD children revealed that children with more severe RD show more severe deficits in morphological awareness, phonological awareness, rapid naming, and visual skills. However, neither location (Mainland vs. Hong Kong) nor type of reading screening (character recognition vs. character recognition combined with reading comprehension) emerged as a moderator of the deficit profiles. These findings indicate that Chinese children with RD have deficits on a wide range of cognitive and linguistic skills. Deficits in rapid naming and orthographic knowledge may be potential causal factors for RD in Chinese based on existing evidence. Implications for the diagnosis and instructions of Chinese children with RD were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-564
Number of pages52
JournalEducational Psychology Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese reading difficulties
  • Morphological awareness
  • Orthographic knowledge
  • Phonological awareness
  • Rapid naming
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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