Beyond a phonics test: Measuring performance in spelling


Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Abstractpeer-review


Amid current politicised and controversial propositions of mandatory phonics testing, Triple Word Form Theory (TWFT) has emerged from several brain imaging studies and behavioural research, indicating that students are capable of drawing on phonological, orthographic, and morphological skills from the early years of learning to write. Indeed, a growing body of research refutes widely held assumptions that spelling ability proceeds in developmental
stages or phases. Assumptions about the nature of spelling development have important implications for the way spelling is taught and tested, yet many existing assessment systems have failed to consider non-linear perspectives of spelling development such as TWFT. The purpose of the study was to develop and test an assessment tool informed by TWFT, called the Components of Spelling Test (CoST). The first stage involved designing a tool that
was informed by current literature on spelling development and assessment.
A compilation exercise resulted in 90 words being identified as having potential utility. Specific linguistic features within each word were initially identified and
aligned to the overarching components that underpin TWFT (that is,
the phonological, orthographic and morphological word forms). The final stage of the study involved (i) testing the draft version of the CoST in several school
contexts, and (ii) an empirical analysis and refinement of the CoST. This stage of the study focussed on students in Year 3 (n= 94) and Year 5 (n=97)
from four schools in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).The reliability of each
spelling component was tested by standardising the raw scores and analysing those using estimates of item difficulty and internal consistency. Data from the Year 3 and Year 5 cohorts were analysed separately. Ten items, and their related words, were deleted from the instrument as they yielded either
negative or low correlations or had an inadequate spread of scores. With a revised total of 101 items, the internal consistency results of the
finalised CoST ranged between .78 and .93.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventAustralian Association for Research in Education Conference AARE 2017 - Canberra, Canberra, Australia
Duration: 26 Nov 201730 Nov 2017


ConferenceAustralian Association for Research in Education Conference AARE 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Beyond a phonics test: Measuring performance in spelling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this