Free phonological awareness test

17 Replies

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.


17 responses to “Free phonological awareness test”

  1. Janice says:

    Thanks. You can buy Rosner’s book Overcoming Learning Difficulties second hand on the internet for a few dollars.
    Thanks for all your work on your website, it is great!

  2. Rochelle Wallace says:

    I just came across a copy of the Rosner this morning while looking for some examples of the programme for a presentation. Here’s the link to it:

  3. Alistair Forge says:

    Hi Alison,
    thanks for the link, and there are other good free phonemic awareness tests using a basic word level appropriate for lower primary (cvc/ccvc/cvcc etc). However I work with secondary school students and was wondering if your’e aware of an assessment that starts with very basic words and progresses to more complex words, that I think would be required to unearth their PA issues.

    I know my students’ PA is generally very weak, but I’d like to be able to properly measure it at the beginning of the year and then at the end. I’ve been using your long pseudo word test, which is great, and enables pre and post testing, but I often can’t untangle the extent to which their issues are PA, or letter-sound knowledge.

    OR, is it only considered useful to assess PA skills up to a certain point, and if so why is that?

    And thanks again for all your great work!

    • alison says:

      Hi Alistair, from what I’ve read and from my own experience, it’s mainly younger kids (up to about 8) who have significant PA problems, whereas older kids have more difficulty with learning all the phoneme-grapheme correspondences (I’m told I say that round the wrong way, and I should say Grapheme-Phoneme Correspondences, but being a Speech Pathologist I am not cooperating). By about age 9 most kids can do all but the more difficult bits of most PA assessments, so I often don’t even bother doing them, I just focus on their real and nonsense word reading and spelling. I did see one teenager recently who had very few segmenting and blending skills, but these immediately showed up on the decoding/encoding tests, he simply left sounds out or added sounds in, rather than just getting sounds/letters wrong.

      I have the Single Word Spelling Test now and find it quite helpful in addition to testing using nonsense words, and it has UK norms, so perhaps that might be useful? It’s quick to administer and designed for groups, and it includes a good sample of spelling patterns that give you an idea where kids’ systems are breaking down. If you want to have a look at it, just let me know. All the best, Alison

      • Chrissy Swan says:

        I would love to access the single word spelling test you are referring to in the above comment. I have a few clients I am working with who could use further assessment to get some goals in place. I am a Speech Path as well. Thank you, Chrissy

      • Toni Tomlin says:

        can I also access the single word spelling test?
        I have a hearing impaired Year 6 girl who spells phonetically but very incorrectly. Tryign ot determine what she does know then go form there?

  4. margaret ellis says:

    hi Alison… I am a retired teacher who worked for 30 odd years with the DET until I had a car accident. I worked in mainstream and special ed as well as a vision itinerant and always private tutoring as I was a single mum. When medically retired, I did the Multilit course at Macquarie uni. I was tutoring a dyslexic child at the time, but found that Multilit did not help him. So I did the Australian Dyslexia Association 5 day course in Brisbane. I also completed a Psych degree at Newcastle uni.
    I have almost finished a programme that I want to implement.. its a detailed, sequential, analysis of the phonemes of English, with specific teaching strategies on P.A. etc etc etc…….. also syllabification, accents in words (as this determines whether to double or not to double when adding suffixes), history of the English language, grammar, work with root and base words…. etc …also pages and pages of worksheets, word lists and passages for dictation and reading…….. I started with the Orton Gillingham manual but have also added elements form the followijg programmes tht I have found useful over the years: Visualisng verbalising, Lindamood Bell, Auditory Discrimination in Depth, Reading Recovery, Spalding, Rosner…
    I found your article on Rosner’s test and I think that you are a person after my own heart. I have written this programme for young teachers with little if no training in phonic knowledge and also for parents looking for guidance.
    I went in to the Board of Studies (BOSTES) some time ago & the young guy pleaded with me to finish what I was doing and take it out to the young teachers out west. he said tht they want a real person to talk to, as well as stuff off the net.
    I have a little shop out at a place called Cudal, west of Orange, and I am planning on setting it up as a teacher training centre and resource for people further out west.
    I’ll be 69 in a couple of weeks and haven’t worked in schools for 5 years now and feel a bit out of touch. If you are based in Sydney, I would love to come and talk to you. I know that what I have done could be a great resource and help for people but I am lacking in confidence a bit at the moment.

    • alison says:

      hi Margaret, wow, your program sounds ACE and I really want you to encourage you to finish it. I’m in Melbourne not Sydney, so if you’re ever here please do get in touch, it would be great to meet you. Good luck with your centre, go for it, it sounds like you’re just the right person to start it. Alison

    • Sharon Clink says:

      Hi, I am a huge fan of Alison Clarke! I, too, bought inexpensive Rosner books. And if you plonk a well-spent $50. on David Kilpatrick’s book, Equipped for Reading Success, you can have the extension of Rosner’s work, updated with later research and resources.
      Alison Clarke, you are the BEST.

    • Sharon Clink says:

      Margaret, As you publish and train, I’d like to be updated on your work. Thanks, Sherry

  5. Prue Deighton says:

    If you are looking for a program which caters for the young student up to secondary level, I suggest you look at Alpha to Omega by Beve Hornsby and Frula Shear, available from Amazon. The phonological skills are taught in sequence which ensures that the pattern of each spelling rule is taught, practiced, applied via appropriate sentences for reading and dictation practice. A wonderful program which is supported with a Teacher’s handbook, a students’ handbook, a wonderful Word Shark CD with interactive games which are all coordinated with the entire program.
    This is THE BEST program I have ever worked with.

    • alison says:

      Hi Prue, thanks for the feedback, I don’t actually have the program Alpha to Omega here but perhaps we should get it so people can take a look at it and consider whether it meets their needs, there’s nowhere else in Victoria where parents and teachers can compare resources, sadly. We do have Word Shark but haven’t made best use of it, I might get it out and give it another try next week, it’s a very old program, I used to use it when I worked at the Yooralla technology centre in the 1990s. I looked at Alpha to Omega in the DSF library a few years ago and decided we had enough similar resources, but it’s good to offer/suggest plenty of options as not everyone likes the same thing. Glad it worked well for you. All the best, Alison

  6. Michael Lemieux says:

    These norms are from 1993. They are 31 years old.

    • alison says:

      Yes, that’s why this 2013 blog post starts with “Dr Jerome Rosner’s Test of Auditory Analysis Skills has been around forever”, and suggests it only as a quick screener that should be followed up by more formal testing if any child seems to be having trouble.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *