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Word Study Program: Assess Students’ Spelling Development With High Frequency Word Inventories

By Beth Newingham on October 3, 2012
  • Grades: 3–5

While the Words Their Way assessment is great for obtaining knowledge about students’ ability to apply common spelling patterns, it does not provide information about their ability to spell words outside of common spelling patterns and words that they will likely use in their everyday writing.

During the first two weeks of school, we divide students into two to three groups according to their estimated spelling stage (based on the Words Their Way Inventory and on recommendations from their teachers from the previous year) and administer high frequency word inventories using the list 1200 high utility words. (The words are listed in the order of their frequency of use in everyday writing.) Some of our 3rd graders are given the first 100, and others start at 200 or even 300.

When we correct their tests, we highlight only the words that they were able to spell correctly on a recording sheet in their word study folder. Students will use this list throughout the school year to create weekly individualized high frequency word lists containing the words they spelled incorrectly on the assessment.

We try to give students at least 200 words during the first two weeks of school (broken up into short testing sessions) so that they have enough misspelled words for their weekly lists. (Many students will need additional testing later in the year when they run out of misspelled high frequency words.)

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