This study investigated the attention of 116 children in 6 2nd- and 3rd-grade classrooms while they participated in 4 lessons involving progressively more difficult stories. Analysis of videotapes of the lessons revealed that the likelihood of a lapse of attention was highest during the first 15 s of attention episodes. Lapses in attention were more likely among 2nd graders than among 3rd graders, among boys than among girls, in low groups than in middle groups, and in middle groups than in high groups. The more difficult the story, the more likely were lapses in attention, especially among younger and less able students. Reading-group membership was more strongly related to attention than were reliable measures of children's individual comprehension and fluency; a leading hypothesis to explain this finding is that reading groups have subcultures that differentially support paying attention. The most newsworthy finding of the study was the sharp drop in attention after oral reading errors; this drop was observed in all reading groups in both 2nd and 3rd grades.
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