Dr Jerome Rosner's Test of Auditory Analysis Skills has been around forever, and is a simple, quick, plain-English test of how well a child in the early years of schooling can hear the identity, order and number of syllables and sounds in words.
These skills are nowadays known as Phonological Awareness. A child's Phonological Awareness is one of the strongest predictors of his or her literacy achievement.
Who can use the TAAS, with whom, and how long does it take?
The Rosner TAAS is designed for use with children in the early years of schooling, so from about four or five – when children start to be able to grasp the idea that words are made of sounds – up till about age eight, though it can be used with older struggling learners too.
It has 13 questions and takes about three minutes to administer. The instructions and scoring system are simple and straightforward, and there's a table that shows you how many items you'd expect a child to get right at Kindergarten/Prep level and Grades 1, 2 and 3.
It's thus a handy screening tool for parents and teachers at this time of year, when everyone's trying to work out who's doing OK with early literacy, and who might need a bit of extra help.
It can help bring possible difficulties with Phonological Awareness to your attention.
You don't need a PhD or special materials to administer the Rosner TAAS, and you can get it right now for $0 just by clicking here.
What do the results mean?
If the results of this test suggest that a child may not be developing skills as well as they should be, please send them off to the school Speech Pathologist or someone else who can do a more comprehensive and current assessment of their Phonological and particularly Phonemic Awareness.
Phonological Awareness is the broader of these two terms and refers to awareness of syllables, rhyming and individual sounds in words. Phonemic Awareness refers specifically to awareness of individual sounds in words, which is where the rubber really hits the road for early literacy.
More detailed, free tests from Macquarie University
If you're referring a child for further assessment, it's also worth asking that this assessment explore what the child knows about letters/spellings, preferably using a standardised non-word reading and/or spelling test such as the Castles and Coltheart 2, from the Macquarie University Online Test Interface (MOTIF).
All the tests from MOTIF are also $0, though I think you need to have a relevant professional qualification to access them (sorry, parents, but you can still get an idea of your child's skills from my daggy, non-standardised video tests). In any case you have to log in to the site and promise not to misuse them, and it takes a few days to get approval, so if you want to use them sometime soon, please register for them now.
Programming ideas from Dr Jerome Rosner
Dr Jerome Rosner's professional background was originally (I believe, though I can't find a biography on the internet) Optometry, and he worked at the Learning Research and Development Centre of the University of Pittsburgh.
As well as this nifty little test, he also wrote the classic "Helping Children Overcome Learning Difficulties", which had multiple editions and sold thousands of copies. I seem to have lost my battered old copy, so as soon as I've finished this post I'm off to Bookfinder with my credit card to get another one for my Wisdom from the Past collection.
Years ago I worked with a great integration aide called Frances, who implemented a program I provided for a couple of language-disordered students who were also really struggling with literacy. We used an old program by Jerome Rosner of which I had photocopies (no idea where I got them) and found it really helped these learners get their heads around sounds and letters.
As is the way with great integration aides, Frances was then snaffled by the school to work on administration and timetabling at a higher rate of pay, but she's still at the school. Every couple of years when I come across a student who is proving quite a tough literacy nut to crack, Frances says, "What about that old program we did years ago with X and Y, the Rosner?". And she's right, of course. It's an oldie but a goodie.
I was hoping that the Rosner program would also be available for $0 on the internet, but it seems to now only be available for US$105 from Pro-Ed in the US. Oh well, if it's what your learner needs and helps get them reading and writing (it's designed for older, strugging learners), that's not a lot in the scheme of things. Well worth considering.