Spelling is an important skill for writing, but did you know it is a powerful way to quickly measure student growth?
A spelling assessment that is properly designed for progress monitoring can be used periodically to gauge overall student growth in reading and writing skills.
We’re designing spelling assessments for this purpose – more on that in another post – but for now, let’s look at what the research says.
Spelling is a critical predictor of reading comprehension and deserves our attention as a frequent assessment topic.
Why Measure Spelling?
Spelling is a predictor of student success on measures of reading comprehension.
“More than 20 different skills predicted future decoding performance, and that the three most important predictors were letter identification, phonemic awareness, and rapid automatized naming (RAN).” p.19, Elwer
Even in junior high/middle school, we find that word study is critical for reading comprehension. A recent (Makhtari, 2016) study from the University of Texas looked at how 7th graders word knowledge impacted their reading comprehension.
“We found that students’ sensitivity to the morphological structure of words accounted for 18% of the variance in these students’ reading performance. We further found that skilled readers had a significantly higher level of sensitivity to the structure of words than did less skilled readers.”
Another recent study (Reed, 2016) analyzed reading comprehension difficulties in 6th-10th grades. They were studying how vocabulary and spelling skills impacted their reading performance.
They found that word knowledge became more important as students got older. More complex texts required deeper fundamental work knowledge skills. Students relied on “lexical information in higher grades as compared to students in lower grades.” This supports the idea that spelling is a critical predictor of reading comprehension and deserves our attention as a frequent assessment topic.A spelling assessment that is properly designed for progress monitoring can be used periodically to gauge overall student growth in reading and writing skills.Click To Tweet
What is a Predictor of Reading Comprehension?
When assessing reading comprehension, it is important to choose methods that are sensitive to fluctuations in learning growth. This is why researchers use predictors.
Predictors of reading comprehension are those subskills that have been shown over and over to predict or align with measures of reading comprehension in later years.
For example, a 1st or 2nd grader takes an assessment of a subskill (fluency, spelling, vocabulary) and four years later, that same student is assessed for reading comprehension on a standardized test. If the assessment in 1st and 2nd grade is a quality measure of predictors, this early score will align with the student’s score four years later.
Additionally, as student scores increase on the assessment of the predictors, the reading comprehension score will also rise.
Why’s this important?
Because you can track the impact of your instruction by monitoring growth in predictors. More importantly, you can rest assured that such growth will result in long-term comprehension gains.Word knowledge became more important as students got older.Click To Tweet
Elwer, A. (2014). Early Predictors of Reading Comprehension Difficulty
Little, C.W., Hart, S.A., (2016). Examining the Genetic and Environmental Associations Among Spelling, Reading Fluency, Reading Comprehension.