The role of orthographic processing skill (OPS) in reading has aroused the interest of many developmental researchers. Despite observations by Vellutino that current measures of OPS primarily are indicators of reading (and spelling) achievement, OPS commonly is distinguished from both reading achievement and phonological skills. An analysis of the reading literature indicates that there is no theory in which OPS meaningfully plays a role as an independent skill or causal factor in reading acquisition. Rather, OPS indexes fluent word identification and spelling knowledge, and there is no evidence to refute the hypothesis that its development relies heavily on phonological processes. Results of correlational studies and reader group comparisons (a) cannot inform about on-line processes and (b) may be parsimoniously explained in terms of phonological skills, reading experience, unmeasured language abilities and methodological factors, without implying that OPS is an aetiologically separable skill. Future research would profit from the investigation in experimental studies of the nature and development of orthographic representations.
© United Kingdom Literacy Association 2006