Are you looking for a phonics assessment to help you determine your students’ phonics knowledge? I’m sharing a free assessment in today’s blog post!
Today I’m sharing what I wish I had in my early teaching years … a phonics assessment!
While most of my teaching career was with first and second grade, the first few years I taught a combination class of third, fourth, and fifth graders.
Looking back, I deeply regret that I didn’t do a phonics assessment for two of my struggling readers in third grade.
At the time, I was very much a balanced literacy proponent. I thought that with enough reading practice, these kids would become better readers.
It didn’t even cross my mind to see if they were getting stuck because of a lack of phonics knowledge.
(Looking back, it’s obvious that this was the issue!)
If I could go back in time (ahem) years ago, I would find a quality phonics assessment and find out exactly what they could (and could not) read and spell.
If phonics knowledge was tripping them up, I would meet with them for 15 minutes a day for explicit instruction, beginning with the skills they lacked. I would send games home for extra practice.
(Both of these kids had loving, involved parents who would have done whatever I asked. I just feel SO BAD that I didn’t know what to ask.)
I thought that by encouraging the parents to read to their kids (they did) and make their kids practice reading more (they did) that this would solve the problem.
But when struggling readers read on their own, it doesn’t magically make them better readers. If a lack of phonics knowledge is the reason they struggle, they need the missing decoding skills to become better readers.
A good phonics assessment will help you pinpoint where that decoding instruction needs to begin.
And I’ve got one waiting for you at the end of the post!
I used my scope and sequence to write the phonics assessment. You can download that for free below. ⬇
Free phonics scope and sequence
Sign up for our email list and get this FREE scope and sequence! I created this sequence based on my research, teaching experience, and Orton-Gillingham training. After you sign up, you’ll get a special offer for our Ultimate Collection of Phonics Word Lists. The scope and sequence will arrive in your email shortly.
When to administer a phonics assessment
If you want to see where a child is “at” with his/her phonics skills, you can administer one at any time. But K-3 teachers should administer phonics assessments at specific points in the year.
Here’s what I recommend for my phonics assessment (this table is included in the download).
How to give the phonics assessment
1-Print the record forms (one per student). You will mark what the students know/don’t know according to the directions on the form.
2-Print one copy of the student pages, and put them in sheet protectors. Store in a binder. This way the assessment is ready whenever you need it!
3- After you’ve assessed all your students, write their names and scores on the Decoding Assessment Summary page. You can use this data to form your differentiated, needs-based small groups (we’ll get to that in a future post in this series).
4- Rinse and repeat at different times of the school year. Refer to each student’s results on the previous assessment to know where to begin when you test a few months later. You don’t need to retest what students aced a few months ago.
5- Use the data to inform instruction. Later in this phonics series I’ll show you how to use the data to form small groups (and what to do with those small groups!).
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Best practices for administering a phonics assessment
1-Make a plan to give the decoding assessment three times a year (see the above chart).
2–Don’t give the full decoding assessment to each child; instead, administer just the sections that are recommended for the child’s grade level. However, always back up on the assessment or move ahead if it becomes clear that the child’s abilities are above or below grade level.
3– Break up the assessment as needed. If a child is tiring, it’s best to discontinue rather than to plow through. You want accurate results.
4-Give an encoding (spelling) assessment if desired. It’s likely that your students will read better than they spell (i.e. they will perform better on the decoding than the encoding assessment), so you may not want to form groups based on the encoding results. However, this is valuable information. Encoding (spelling) is often neglected, but it naturally fits into phonics lessons and should be included through dictation exercises.
You can grab the assessment below!
Get your FREE phonics assessment!
Check our the rest of our phonics series!