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5 Reading assessment topics to give proper diagnosis

Yes, there is hope for a struggling reader from age 6 to adulthood once a proper reading assessment is done. The results can be used to create a reading intervention programme. This will address those issues that a person may have when fighting to read fluently.

Before bringing a struggling reader up to grade level, you must do a proper reading assessment to know what type of lessons to prepare. You can use appropriate strategies and activities that are tailored to the particular needs of a struggling reader to ensure fluency is achieved at the end.

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Also, a careful reading assessment must be done in order to avoid making assessment mistakes with a struggling reader. Wrongful diagnosis may result in harmful effects that include loss of interest in wanting to learn and the development of bad behaviour as a defense mechanism for shortcomings.

Get ready to do your own evaluation on a struggling reader. If the problem is not that serious, addressing these topics using the right reading methods during your reading assessment may iron out issues quickly.

However, some problems would require either a reading intervention programme, disciplinary action, or medical attention. Here are 5 important topics for your reading assessment to successfully diagnose a struggling reader.

5 Reading assessment areas that give a proper diagnosis

1. Decode sounds in words

Decoding is required for reading and is at the top of the list of reading assessment areas. This topic reveals the student’s skills in phonemic and phonological awareness, letter identification, differentiating letter sounds, and knowledge of letter blends.

It involves sounding out each letter or group of letters based on all the knowledge a student has acquired on phonics, spelling rules and syllables. Ask your student to spell a word based on what is heard to demonstrate his or her decoding skills.

Be okay with incorrect English spelling and focus on the attempt to represent sounds with letters. It is alright for the student to spell phone with an f, ghost without the silent h, and cat with a k.

During your reading assessment, take note of the struggling reader’s ability to decode words. Observe if he or she starts to read from the left, sound out the first letter or digraph correctly, break words into syllables, recognise familiar blends, apply spelling rules, and make sense of the word.

2. Identify letters in the alphabet

A letter identification exercise is crucial during the reading assessment since it is possible for problematic letters to not be used during the decoding test. It is common for students to confuse similarly shaped letters, so it becomes difficult to decode words when letters are unknown.

Display the letters that look similar. Use letter flashcards, foam or plastic letters, or write them down on paper. Group the letters common a, b, d, g, p and q; f and t; n and u; m and w; capital M and W; and N and Z. Shuffle them around for the student to identify repeatedly.

Use words that contain similar letters for the student to see them together. Ask him or her to read them aloud. Display the words did, bib, dab, bud, dig, dug, bug, beg, bed, bad, and bid; fat, fit, that, thief, foot, feet, and fret; nut, under, and numb; warm, meow, and welcome.

3. Count syllables

Understanding what are syllables is a crucial part of decoding words. Ask your student to break a word into syllables and count them. This helps you to see if the reading problem stems from lack of knowledge of how words are segmented.

Also, it is difficult to understand spelling rules and exceptions if you do not know what are syllables. Choose words with the six types of syllables for the student to count and use many examples.

6 Types of syllables

  • open syllable ends in a vowel (shemotel, revise)
  • closed syllable ends with a consonant (fruitwelcome, compose)
  • vowel consonant e syllable (wake, compete, dislike)
  • r-controlled syllable (car, resortportable)
  • vowel team syllable (laughgoatmeaning)
  • consonant -le syllable (simple, table, cycle)

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4. Differentiate words with same sound, same spelling and both

Find out if your student can tell the difference between words that sound the same, look the same, and do both as this is critical for pronouncing words and understanding meaning in text. This topic in your reading assessment identifies the student’s ability to differentiate homophones, homographs and homonyms from each other.

Note that homophones sound the same despite spelling, homographs look the same no matter the sound, and homonyms are both homophones and homographs.

Use the common homophones that even great readers confuse. These are there, their and they’re; your and you’re; here, hear, hair, and hare; fear, fair, and fare; poor, pour, and pore; and to, two and too.

Some homographs that sound differently are read, minute, bow, close, and wound. Homonyms that are both homophones and homographs are bat, fine, tear, object, and fair.

5. Build words based on grammatical usage

The different grammatical forms of words can be problematic for a struggling reader to understand meaning, so this topic is very important for your reading assessment. Show your student a root word like ‘walk’ and change the grammatical form to see if the person can build on the word accordingly on his or her own.

Ask for marking of:

  • past tense and see if you get ‘walked’
  • present tense of ‘walk’ after the pronouns he, she or it, and see if you get ‘walks’
  • present continuous, and see if you get ‘walking’
  • future tense, and see if the student says ‘will walk’

Use this fun video on 8 Parts of Speech to master your student’s grammar skills. Knowing the 8 main parts of speech is crucial in understanding meaning in text.

Your reading intervention programme should include grammar lessons on nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections.

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Your reading assessment should be fine with this guide. These 5 topics should help you to learn a lot about your student’s shortcomings. You may also check out this article on 20 critical literacy problems to address when doing reading intervention. Remember, if you are unable to help the student, seek medical assistance.

See also:

6 Common reading assessment mistakes to avoid

Is my child a struggling learner? 5 obvious signs

Reading intervention: 20 critical literacy problems to address

Autism signs parents should take seriously

Bad grades: Tips for students, parents, teachers

Delayed student in a traditional classroom

Lack of focus: A guide for parents

Personalised learning in the classroom

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