10. Assessments

There are dozens of assessments relevant to encoding/decoding skills available so this list is in no way comprehensive, but I hope includes useful information.

Phonemic awareness assessments

Real word reading assessments

Non-word reading assessments

Real word spelling assessments

Non-word spelling assessments

Tests of spelling patterns outside words

Rapid Automatised Naming assessments

Difficulties with Rapid Automatised Naming are strongly associated with persistent reading difficulties, so worth knowing about.

Non-word repetition assessment

  • The Children’s Test of Nonword Repetition takes four minutes, has norms for ages 4-8, is simple enough for even preschoolers, and doesn’t disadvantage children whose home language isn’t English or children who’ve hardly seen a book and don’t know what a rhyme is. Poor non-word repetition is quite a good predictor of language and reading difficulties.

More comprehensive assessments

The York Assessment of Reading Comprehension is a comprehensive, individually-administered reading test which has now been standardised in Australia. There is a version for primary school-aged children and another for secondary school age.

The free DIBELS assessments cover a range of literacy skills across the primary school years, and are widely used in the US.

The Abecedarian Reading Assessment is another fairly comprehensive assessment of early reading skills from the US which is available free online.

The Predictive Assessment of Reading is a high-quality standardised US screening tool designed to identify children needing extra help with reading. The Aimsweb and PALS screeners also have proper data to back them up.

Many standardised assessments of phonemic awareness and decoding/encoding skills are incorporated into major psychological or language tests, and you have to be a Psychologist or Speech Pathologist to use them, so I won’t go into their details here, but if you’re seeing a Psychologist or Speech Pathologist they will be able to tell you about each of the tests they use.

Many synthetic phonics programs have their own placement tests, for use in deciding where to start on their program, for example the Jolly Phonics Reading Assessment, and the Ridgehill Synthetic Phonics Placement Tests. If you’re investigating getting such a program, check whether it includes assessments like these.

Response To Intervention

Response To Intervention or RTI is an approach to identifying and assisting students with additional needs at school. It provides three tiers of assessment and intervention, with anyone struggling at a lower tier getting access to the next tier:

  1. Evidence-based classroom teaching, including screening for risk factors,
  2. Small group support and intervention for anyone struggling or considered “at risk”,
  3. Intensive individual support and intervention for anyone whose problems are severe/ongoing.

RTI is the best way to make sure that all children are able to achieve to their literacy potential. The US-based National Center on Response To Intervention website contains lots of information about how to implement an RTI approach.

2 thoughts on “10. Assessments

  1. Anne Italiano

    Hi Alison, just wandering why the MOTIF screeners have been crossed of your list. We are currently looking at screeners and want to make sure that we choose the right ones.
    Thanks for all your wonderful work!

    1. alison Post author

      Hi Anne, sorry for slow reply, I couldn’t work out what you meant, but I finally realised that the links to the MOTIF tests on my “Assessments” page were broken because they changed their URLs. I’ve fixed them up now. I think they are great but they aren’t really intended as screening tools, I think you’re probably better off using something like DIBELS for screening. Maybe you didn’t see my recent blog post about screening: http://www.spelfabet.com.au/2016/04/is-the-new-victorian-learning-difficulties-screening-assessment-any-good


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