Spelling errors linked to understanding of oral language

Spelling assessment, whether formal or informal, should provide you with the information about your client's or student's understanding of phonological awareness and conventional spelling patterns.

The types of spelling errors that an individual makes are linked to his or her understanding of language structures.

It is a good idea when assessing your client's skills to have him write at the single word, sentence, and paragraph level. Having him write about a picture, personal event, or a movie can give you insight into spelling skills, as well as writing skills such as punctuation, grammar, vocabulary use, and cohesiveness. If your client performs better in the one-on-one setting versus in the classroom, this suggests that his knowledge is insecure and needs to be strengthened.

Your setting (i.e., school, clinic, private practice) may place constraints on your time to assess spelling. Standardized assessments such as SPELL-2 or Test of Written Spelling-5 are good tools. You can give a TWS-5 pretty quickly. Informal assessments can also provide useful information as to skill level, goal setting, and where to begin therapy.

Once you obtain a spelling sample, you can do a quick assessment to determine whether the breakdown is occuring at the syllable or phonemic level or at the level of English orthography (i.e., knowledge of spelling patterns and rules). For example, if, as a rule, a student writes something like "arkitekcher" for architecture, it is clear that he is perceiving the syllables and phonemes in words; and in this case, you could skip the phonological awareness assessment and begin working on the letters and letter combinations that represent sounds, targeting root words and affixes, and spelling rules. On the other hand, if "arker" was written, you would want to assess phonological awareness skills using a measure such as the Comprehensive Test of Phonolgical Processing - 2 (CTOPP-2) or the Lindamood Auditory Concepualization (LAC - 3). Before beginning intervention, you will want to get an inventory of the student's spelling repertoire. The SPELL - 2 or Wilson Assessment of Decoding and Encoding (WADE) are examples of assessments that can provide you with this type of information. 

On this website we have provided a list of some testing instruments [1] and computer software [2] that focus on spelling. Both lists target ages from elementary to adult. It should be noted that on the software link we do mention some spelling assessments; however, the list primarily represents supplementary activities which should not take the place of explicit and systematic therapy.

Depending on your setting (i.e., school, clinic, private practice, etc.) you may or may not have time to invest in a lot of assessments. The assessment, whether formal or informal, should provide you with an opportunity to evaluate your clients' or students' understanding of phonological awareness as well as conventional spelling patterns...