and the reduction of/t/ to a tongue flap

in words like water, butter, and letter. Most children in the phonetic spelling stage write

truck as , dragon as , and water as (Treiman, 1985;

1993). These errors suggest that children analyze spoken words into the constituent

phonemes but their phonemic classifications do not match symbols dictated by the

conventional writing system.

Letter reversals like for her are also frequently found during the phonetic

spelling stage and reflect linguistically-based errors (Treiman, 1997b). For children, the

spoken form of her contains an initial consonant followed by a syllabic /r/. Young

children frequently omit the vowel altogether when spelling such words, as discussed

earlier. In other cases, a child may remember having seen an e in the printed form of her

or may realize that this word, like all other English words, must contain a vowel.

Because the spoken form of the word does not indicate where the vowel should be

placed, the child may arbitrarily misspell the word as . Errors that include a final








e may be particularly common because many words, like came and home, end with a

"silent" e. Thus, an error such as for her may be an invention that reflects both

phonology (the syllabic /r/ sound in the word) and orthographic knowledge (the

knowledge that all English words must be written with a vowel letter and that several

English words end in the letter .) It is largely a coincidence that such errors of letter

reversals tend to contain all of the letters of the conventional spelling.

The final stage of spelling development is called the morphemic, or within-word,

pattern stage. To reach this stage, children must be able to recognize the constancy of

many morpheme spellings and learn to consider meaning, sound and syntax to spell

correctly (Bryant, Nunes, & Bindman, 1997; Nunes, Bryant, & Bindman, 1997). The

transition into correct spelling requires children to absorb certain basic concepts about the

structure of English orthography. Children learn, either explicitly or implicitly, that

many vowels are spelled with digraphs, that some letters can be doubled, that spellings

change when endings are added and that much phonetic detail is not represented in

writing. This stage of spelling acquisition lasts well into the secondary school years and

constantly undergoes refinement with exposure to the printed word, reading skills and

understanding of the grammatical structure of the English language. At this stage, writers

rely to a large extent on the use of educated analogies. Thus, once a novel word is

analyzed semantically and syntactically, it is spelled by analogy to another word of the

same phonetic structure as well as syntactic class. According to Ehri (1989), word

features are cross-referenced in memory. When one aspect of a word image is activated

in memory, the other known features are also activated along with other words that share

those features. Accumulating this knowledge base is a protracted developmental process.

Words are learned in stages and word concepts are elaborated gradually with experience.








This stage is also characterized by increasing use of language-specific orthographic

rules, such as the twinning of a consonant when adding a suffix or the deletion of a final e

when adding a suffix that begins with a vowel. As a note of caution, it is incorrect to

assume that children in the earlier stages of spelling acquisition are totally unaware of

orthographic rules Orthographic rules may be classified by degree of complexity based

on the frequency of their application to vocabulary items (Carney, 1994). For instance,

the vowel lengthening magic -e rule in monosyllables such as home, lake, and kite is a

simpler rule of orthography compared to the consonant-syllabic I-silent e rule in words

like cradle, title and nozzle. Cassar and Treiman (1997) conducted a series of

experiments on kindergarteners and first-graders using nonsense words containing both

legal and illegal combinations of consonants. The experiments probed children's ability

to recognize acceptable spelling patterns based on positional letter constraints. Examples

of the test items included word pairs such as "nuck-ckun" and pess-ppes". Results of the

experiments indicated that as early as in first grade, young spellers are sensitive to simple

and highly frequent orthographic rules. Cassar and Treiman's study (1997) not only

emphasized the fact that the acquisition of spelling is a continuous learning process but

also suggested that every stage represents the use of multiple spelling strategies which

integrate the phonological and orthographic elements of spelling. The extent of this

integration is not however equal among the two elements at any stage. The phonetic

stage is, for instance, heavily loaded with strategies of sound properties whereas the

morphemic stage is largely characterized by orthographic rules that predict the spelling of

morphemes.

Although little is known about the nature and sequence of later stages of spelling

development, there is no doubt that middle-grade and high-school children continue to








refine their concepts of orthography and their ability to associate spelling patterns with

speech patterns (Moats, 1995). As children learn more words, and have more examples

in memory of redundant spelling patterns, they can rely increasingly on analogy

strategies to spell (Ehri, 1989; Goswami, 1988). Children also become increasingly more

aware of opaque phonological relationships among derived words (Templeton, 1992),

and employ this knowledge, as opposed to visual recall, to generate a correct spelling.

Finally, advanced spellers learn to use multiple sources of linguistic information about

words from their orthographic, phonological, semantic and etymological knowledge to

facilitate spelling memory, recall and decoding.

Theories on the Process of Spelling

Experimental and naturalistic studies of spelling errors and slips of the pen have

contributed to a large extent towards our understanding of the mental processes involved

in the act of spelling. The traditional school of thought (Fry, 1985) regards the act of

spelling as a process of retaining and storing visual orthographic images learned by

memorization of letter sequences The psycholinguistic school of thought (Read, 1986;

Treiman, 1993) describes the acquisition of spelling as a creative process and stresses the

importance of phonological awareness as a basic prerequisite to successful spelling skills.

Knowledge of orthographic rules is required to refine advanced spelling patterns and

develops in later stages of spelling acquisition with exposure to print. Currently, there

exist two competing theories to explain the mental processes involved in spelling. The

dual-route theory proposes that there are two separate neural pathways that can be

recruited during spelling. The connectionist theory emphasizes the extent to which

different aspects of word knowledge are tapped simultaneously and in parallel during the








spelling process. This theory also emphasizes the interdependence of one type of

linguistic knowledge on another.

Many cognitive neuro-psychologists have presented evidence for a dual-route theory

of reading and spelling from laboratory experiments and detailed case study analyses of

individuals with brain lesions (Caramazza, Miceli, Villa, & Roman, 1987; Ellis, 1993;

Frith, 1980a). The dual-route theory of spelling is based on the conceptual premise that

children pass through distinct stages of spelling development, and that impaired spelling

development can be characterized in terms of inability to progress beyond a particular

stage. In Ellis' (1993) and Barry's (1994) dual-route model of spelling processes, there

are two major modules that communicate in parallel via a semantic processor. The

phonological module (also known as the assembled route) stores information about the

sound structure of words. It is specialized to analyze words into their component

phonemes and then assign each phoneme to its corresponding grapheme. Spelling via the

phonological module is regarded as a slow process. It is mainly used when encoding

novel words or pseudo-words following a regular phonological structure. Irregular words

would be spelled with phonologically plausible spelling patterns.

The visual-orthographic module (also known as the lexical or word-specific route)

stores information about graphemes and grapheme sequences in words. In its capacity as

a storehouse for word spellings, the visual-orthographic module holds the spelling

patterns of all memorized words irrespective of their degree of phoneme-grapheme

predictability. The spelling of a particular word can be retrieved from the visual-

orthographic module and produced in response to a meaning cue and/or a pronunciation

cue. If a meaning cue alone triggers the recall of a visually-learned spelling, a lexical

error may arise since the target word may be substituted by a synonym, as in large for








huge. If the retrieval of a word from orthographic memory is triggered by a sound cue

without full connection with a meaning cue, a homophone might be written, as two for

too. If the retrieval of a word from orthographic memory is stimulated by a partial

phonological cue, a word with similar but slightly different phonemic structure might be

written, as rich for ridge. Finally, if the letters of a word are not completely known, a

visually similar word might be retrieved from the orthographic processor with omission,

or reversal, of letters, as in the following slips of the pen made by literate adult writers

(wuold for would; poneme for phoneme, and niht for night) Once a spelling has been

retrieved either lexically, or assembled, it is deposited in a presumed graphemic output

buffer which holds spellings while output processes such as writing, typing, or oral

spelling, are being implemented.

The dual-route theory for spelling considers the visual-orthographic module as the

major spelling processor. Consequently, it accounts adequately for slips of the pen and

the spelling errors observed in cases of acquired dysgraphia (Caramazza et al., 1987;

Posteraro, Zinelli, & Mazzucchi, 1988; Shallice, 1981). However, studies on

developmental spelling provide increasing evidence of an integration between

phonological and visual-orthographic knowledge, an aspect which violates the

dissociation between information pathways in the dual-route theory. In reaction to this

weakness in the foundations of the dual-route theory, connectionist models of reading

and spelling processes were generated (Seidenberg & McClelland, 1989; Van Orden,

Pennington, & Stone, 1990). Connectionist models emphasize that language learning

depends on the extraction and recall of relationships among events. Seidenberg and

McClelland (1989) developed the distributed, developmental model of word recognition

and naming to depict the interactive nature between the involved processors. Hoffman








and Norris (1989) adapted and refined this word recognition model to developmental

spelling. According to the parallel, distributed processing model of Hoffman and Norris

(1989), the process of spelling begins at the lexical level. All relevant knowledge is

activated in memory when a word is spelled and various aspects of word knowledge

interact with and influence one another constantly (Adams, 1990; Ehri, 1980). According

to the transformational grammarians Chomsky and Halle (1968), a lexical item is

characterized by a set of identities The semantic identity specifies the meaning of a

word; the syntactic identity specifies the part of speech represented by a word; the

morphological identity specifies inflectional and derivational endings; and the

phonological identity specifies the acceptable sound patterns. The connectionist model

for spelling incorporates an additional orthographic identity to explain the rule-governed

associations between sounds and letters (Simon, 1976). The building blocks of this

orthographic identity are alphabet letters which, like words, are specified multi-modally,

including correspondences among alternative alphabetic codes such as upper versus

lower case, or print versus cursive.

Connectionist models, like dual-route models, pose that there are separate modules

responsible for storage and retrieval of phonological, orthographic, and semantic

information during the reading and spelling process. Unlike dual-route models where

information across modules is generally not recruited, a connectionist model proposes

that all aspects of word knowledge stored in the different modules are activated and used

simultaneously. This activation depends on the extraction and recall of relationships

among the different lexical identities. Thus, when a word is spelled, all relevant

knowledge is activated in memory, initiating an interaction between the different aspects

of word knowledge. Furthermore, each module consists of neural connections which,







21
when activated, are strengthened with practice and exposure to print (Hoffman & Norris,

1989). A beginning speller thus possesses the simplest forms of connectivity for spelling

relationships. As connections become stronger through exposure to, and practice with

print, the associations between phonemes and graphemes are retrieved more easily. In

contrast to the beginning speller, the experienced writer knows the spelling of a set of

lexical items and the frequency with which these words are used, determines the

association weights between sounds and symbols for that person.

A connectionist model for spelling attempts to account for the reason children's

earliest attempts at writing reflect phonological patterns from the beginning stages of

speech production. Ehri (1992b) reconceptualized the parallel distributed processing

model for reading and spelling and introduced her visual-phonological route model, or

amalgamation theory, to support the importance of phonological processing in reading

and spelling. Whereas a speller analyzes a word through the arbitrary connections

established between pronunciation and meaning using the visual pathways of both the

dual-route and the connectionist models, the amalgamation theory proposes that a word is

spelled through systematic connections established between phonological,

morphological, orthographic, semantic and syntactic features. In the early stages of

spelling acquisition, these systematic connections are established through knowledge of

letter-sound correspondences. The connections influence one another and through a

process of amalgamation, they become strongly bonded as orthographic images. It is

these images that are recalled every time a word is spelled. In the case of a novel or

nonsense word, a similar sounding orthographic image is recruited, but it is then amended

through systematic analysis of word knowledge. Ehri suggests that children who spell

poorly demonstrate greater discrepancy between phonological and orthographic








processing than good spellers. Since the poor spellers cannot recall an orthographic

image from the orthographic processor, they remain overly dependent on the sound

structure of the target word. In Ehri's opinion (1984, p. 145), print provides children

with a "schema for conceptualizing and analyzing the structure of speech."

In summary, based on Ehri's amalgamation theory (1992b), more current models

have been developed to explain how children learn to spell, first accurately, then rapidly

(Brown & Loosemore, 1995; Perfetti, 1992, 1997). These models stress the use of

multiple sources of information required for reading and spelling. Two pathways have

been suggested, a visual-orthographic pathway and a phonological-orthographic pathway.

In general, developmental spelling studies indicate that children recruit information from

both pathways thus enhancing the connections between phonemic and orthographic

segments of words, and eventually build in memory a store of systematic orthographic

word images. In the early stages, the development of accurate orthographic images

depends heavily on phonological awareness; in later stages, it depends on the ability to

integrate different features of word knowledge such as phonology, morphology, syntax

and orthographic rules. Most children acquire phonological awareness through indirect

instruction such as nursery rhymes and sounding-out word games. However, some

children have difficulty assimilating the concepts of letter-sound correspondences. These

children often exhibit difficulty in learning to read and write and require explicit

instruction in phonological awareness in order to build orthographic images in memory.

Phonological Processing as the Foundation for Learning to Spell

Phonological processing

Research has established unequivocally that spelling is a multifaceted form of

linguistic representation that integrates phonological, morphological, semantic, and








orthographic knowledge (Fischer, Shankweiler, & Liberman, 1985; Henderson, 1990;

Read, 1986). The core of this integrated framework of linguistic information that

embodies English spelling is represented by the alphabetic principle. This alphabetic

principle describes the conventional letter-sound associations of the language and lies at

the core of what is frequently called phonological processing. Phonological processing is

defined as "an individual's mental operations that make use of the phonological or sound

structure of oral language when he or she is learning how to decode written language"

(Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte, 1994, p. 276). Torgesen et al. further note that one of

the most frequently studied phonological processing skills is phonological awareness.

Phonological awareness is generally defined as one's sensitivity to, or explicit awareness

of, the phonological structure of the words in one's language. This explicit awareness

allows an individual to recognize that a spoken word consists of smaller components such

as syllables and phonemes and that these units can be consciously manipulated to decode

a written word, or analyze a word into its sound components prior to spelling it.

Phonological awareness is consequently measured by tasks requiring children to identify,

isolate, or blend individual phonemes in words (p. 276).

A developmental hierarchy of phonological awareness skills has been identified in

the literature on reading and spelling acquisition (Goswami & Bryant, 1990; Morais,

1991; Tunmer & Hoover, 1992; Tunmer & Rohl, 1991; Yopp, 1988). At the earliest

levels of the hierarchy, phonological awareness skills require the identification and

manipulation of syllabic units within a word (e.g., say 'football' without the 'ball'). The

next level of phonological awareness skills requires the ability to focus on components of

sounds that rhyme. Tasks at this intrasyllabic awareness level focus on the identification

and isolation of onsets and rimes in words (e.g., find the odd man out: 'bag, hag, nine,








tag'). The highest level of phonological awareness skills, referred to as phonemic

awareness, requires explicit manipulation of individual phonemes. Tasks of phonemic

awareness involve the identification of sounds in words, segmentation of words into

constituent sounds and blending sounds to form words or nonwords. At the phonemic

awareness level, an individual is capable of consciously manipulating phonemes and, in

the case of spelling, can represent individual phonemes with the corresponding

conventional graphemes.

Phonemic awareness and its role in spelling

Spelling requires the explicit ability to segment a word into its phonemic components

and then select the alphabetic symbol that corresponds to each sound in the word (Morris

& Perney, 1984; Tangel & Blachman, 1992). Several studies that examined the spelling

characteristics of children have shown that there exists a relationship between degree of

phonological awareness and spelling success in preliterate and literate children (Tunmer

& Rohl, 1991; Wagner & Torgesen, 1987). Treiman's extensive research on the spelling

errors of kindergarten and first grade children (1997) shows a strong relationship between

phonemic awareness and spelling development. Treiman found that children's early

spelling errors are not idiosyncratic attempts at writing but reflect the use of phonetic

strategies; as a result, children produce spellings such as 'jragon' for 'dragon' where the

word initial consonant cluster is affricated due to articulatory positioning.

Studies on the spelling characteristics of poor spellers also suggest overall weakness

in phonological awareness skills (Bruck & Treiman, 1990; Foorman & Francis, 1994;

Goswami & Bryant, 1990; Liberman, Rubin, Duques, & Carlisle, 1985). Bruck and

Treiman (1990) compared the phonological awareness skills of poor spellers to younger,

spelling-level matched controls. The results of the study suggested that the poor spellers








exhibited weaker phonological awareness skills than expected given their performance on

standardized spelling tests. The poor spellers in the study performed significantly worse

than the control group on tasks of phoneme deletion as well as phoneme recognition.

Although children in both groups made errors, the poor spellers exhibited greater

difficulty on the tasks and missed a higher number of test items. Stuart and Masterson

(1992) studied the relationship between prereading phonological abilities and later

reading and spelling skills in a group of 10-year-old children who were initially assessed

as 4-year-old prereaders. The results of the study indicated that children's scores on

phonological awareness tasks as prereaders significantly predicted their spelling

performance six years later. Children with good early phonological awareness obtained

consistently higher scores on tasks of nonword spelling and their errors were more

phonologically-driven than those made by children with poor early phonological

awareness.

The influence of phonological awareness on early spelling development is

highlighted by the results of explicit instruction in phonemic awareness. Ball and

Blachman (1991) investigated the effect of training phoneme segmentation and

instruction in letter names and letter sounds on word recognition and spelling. Their

study included 89 kindergarten children whose mean age was 5.71 years. Subjects were

divided into three treatment groups. The phoneme awareness group received training in

segmenting words into phonemes and in letter-name-sound correspondences; the

language group received training in letter-name-sound correspondences only; the control

group received no training. Results of the study showed that children in the phoneme

awareness group performed significantly better on reading and spelling than children in

the language and control groups respectively. Children in the phoneme awareness group








were able to generalize trained items to novel ones. Children in the language group did

not significantly improve in phoneme segmentation skills, reading skills or spelling skills

when compared to the control group. Tangel and Blachman (1992, 1995) conducted a

longitudinal study to trace the effect of explicit instruction in phonemic awareness on the

spelling skills of first grade children. Children in the intervention and control groups

were matched on age, sex, race, phoneme segmentation abilities, and word identification

test scores. The children in the intervention group received training in say-it-move-it

phoneme activities, segmentation activities, and letter-name and letter-sound activities

four times a week over a period of 11 weeks. The results of the study showed that

children in the intervention group outperformed the control group on tasks of phoneme

segmentation, letter-sound correspondence, and phonetic reading of regular words and

nonwords. Furthermore, children in the intervention group exhibited significantly better

spelling performance than the control group. Tangel and Blachman attributed this

significant difference to the combined effects of intensive and consistent training in

letter-sound associations and manipulations during the early stages of spelling

acquisition.

Schemes of Spelling Analysis

A review of the literature on spelling acquisition indicates that accuracy in spelling

forms is largely determined by the writer's awareness of (1) phonological characteristics

of spoken syllables (Hoffinan & Norris, 1989); (2) characteristics of individual phonemes

(Hoffman & Norris, 1989); (3) morphophonemic aspects of word structure (Schlagal,

1986; Sterling, 1983); and (4) orthographic structures (Henry, 1988). By implication,

effective interpretation of spelling can best be achieved by means of a scheme that

incorporates at least some of these factors. Over the years of spelling research, four








major schemes of analysis have been proposed and implemented. These schemes are (1)

serial sequencing of letters, (2) predictable/unpredictable words, (3) phonetic/dysphonetic

error classification, and (4) phonological analysis.

Serial sequencing of letters

In the 40s and 50s, the prevailing school of thought was that children mastered the

English spelling system by rote visual memorization. Learning to spell by this approach

presupposes attentiveness and a good visual memory but little linguistic knowledge.

Children were expected to memorize strings of letters forming the spelling of a word by

visual and/or auditory input, then retrieve this information through a memory recall loop.

Consequently, early studies on spelling (Fry, 1985; Mendenhall, 1930; Spache, 1940)

aimed to identify difficult words, or difficult elements in words, and to compile lists of

words generally misspelled by children. Misspellings were compared letter by letter to

the conventional spelling of the target word, then classified as errors of letter omission,

substitution, addition, or reversal. Such a classification scheme stresses the serial

ordering of letters within a word and assesses children's spelling skills as a function of

their ability to memorize and recall a string of letters as rapidly and as correctly as

possible. This scheme fails to capture the relationships between the spelling of a word

and its pronunciation, thus overshadowing the reasons why children make certain errors,

but outgrow others, in the course of their early years of spelling acquisition-

Predictable/ unpredictable words

This approach to spelling analysis divides lists for dictation into words comprised of

so-called predictable spelling patterns, and those that are unpredictable. Relative success

on these pre-categorized items is compared, with the expectation that children with

reading disabilities will perform differently on the two lists according to their strengths








and weaknesses. This implies that children with poor phonological processing skills are

likely to make more errors on the phonically predictable words relative to unpredictable

words that can be learned by memorization only. Analysis of spelling errors by a

predictable/ unpredictable word approach poses several conceptual problems. First,

predictability is a matter of degree. In English, a word's predictability comprises not

only phonetic transparency, but also morphological structure, word origin, and

orthographic conventions (Fischer, Shankweiler, & Liberman, 1985). Some words

follow patterns that are constrained by word origin and phonemic environment (e.g., the

long vowel sounds in the wordsfind, old, wild). Many words conform to orthographic

rules (e.g., after in words like have, love). The spelling of the majority of words

in English is phonetically opaque, but becomes predictable if analyzed in light of its

morphological structure (e.g., the phonetic variants for the plural morpheme).

Moats (1993) raises an important objection regarding the diagnostic and intervention

value of predictable/ unpredictable words lists. There is little evidence that children who

are poor spellers are more likely to respond differentially to word lists sorted as

predictable and unpredictable. Furthermore, there is no evidence that differences in

performance on two lists are reliable over time in younger children. Neither is there any

external validation that children who respond better on one list respond uniquely to any

given instructional approach.

Phonetic/ dysphonetic error classification

Another approach to analysis of spelling involves classifying errors as either good or

poor phonetic equivalents. Contrary to the traditional view that reading and spelling were

acquired through serial memorization, the phonetic/ dysphonetic error classification

system viewed learning as a creative process. Emphasis consequently shifted from a








visual orthographic task of memory to spelling as a developmental process. In this

system, phonetic accuracy is determined holistically, by judging how well the entire word

represents the sounds, or by applying phoneme-by-phoneme rating systems that specify

how well each speech sound is represented in an individual's spelling attempts. A

phonetic error, such as for cried, was considered a linguistically acceptable

representation of the target word. On the other hand, the spelling for peach

(Treiman, 1993, p. 34) violates all possible representations of the spoken word and is

therefore, a dysphonetic error. Recent work by Treiman (1997, 1998) presents a well-

documented critique on the weaknesses embodied in a two-dimensional phonetic/

dysphonetic error classification scheme. Treiman argues that such a scheme fails to

capture the developmental processes reflected in a child's spelling attempts. A few

salient examples include the reduction of consonant clusters in spelling, or the omission

of the letter in stressed syllables with r-controlled vowels (e.g., car, her, bird).

Children bring to the act of spelling their awareness of phoneme, syllable and rime units

integrated with a developing knowledge of orthographic conventions. They do not omit

elements from a consonant cluster or a syllable because they do not perceive them, or

cannot articulate them. They omit these elements because they do not possess sufficient

orthographic knowledge and thus resort to strategies like letter names and representation

of whole syllables rather than individual phonemes.

As spelling deficits are primary characteristics of reading disorders, this population

has often been the target of investigations on spelling acquisition. Frith (1980b) and

Nelson (1980) examined the phonetic accuracy of the misspellings of three groups of

children, good readers-good spellers (good), good readers-poor spellers (mixed) and poor

readers-poor spellers (poor). Based on the percentage of phonetically misspelled








phonemes, the mixed and the poor subjects constituted two distinct subgroups of

dyslexics. However, the phonetic/ dysphonetic classification scheme did not reveal any

qualitative difference between normally progressing children and the two subgroups of

poor spellers. Bruck and Waters (1988) refined the phonetic classification scheme by

introducing positional constraint criteria. In their scheme, spelling forms were

considered phonetically acceptable only if they satisfied orthographic conventions

relative to the position of the sound and its associated letter in a syllable. Thus, the

spelling for back is regarded as unacceptable because the digraph

necessarily follows a short vowel in a stressed syllable. Bruck and Waters' (1988)

constrained letter-sound classification system did show that mixed spellers have marked

deficits in letter-sound knowledge compared to good spellers. However, results of the

study failed to distinguish between subtypes of poor spellers.

In addition to its failure to distinguish between subtypes of poor spellers, Moats

(1993) points out another problem with the phonetic/ dysphonetic classification approach.

Such a classification scheme assumes that spelling is a dual route process involving both

a phonological processing system and an orthographic processing system, each of which

may be selectively dysfunctional in a dyslexic child. However, studies on the spelling

skills of dyslexic children suggest that both proficient and non-proficient spellers may

vary along the dimensions of phonological and orthographic processing (Bryant &

Impey, 1986; Moats, 1983; Stanovich, 1988). If phonetic accuracy or inaccuracy were

characteristics of subtypes, these subtypes would represent a normal continuum of

learning style differences rather than types of disorder.

Another problem with the phonetic/ dysphonetic dichotomy in spelling analysis is

the assumption that phonological and orthographic processes are associated with








distinctive aspects of spelling production (Moats, 1993). Diagnostically, such a system

will try to identify children who are on the extremes of continuous distributions in both

processes (Boder & Jarrico, 1982). This assumption clearly belies the present belief that

most children develop phonological and orthographic processing skills in an interactive

and integrated manner (Ehri, 1989),

Phonological analysis

In his study on children's creative spellings, Read (1986) noticed that spelling

patterns not only reflected a child's perception of the phonetic form of a word, but they

also generalized to other similar sounding words. After computing the frequencies of

spellings for selected phonemes, Read found that some phonetic properties were more

salient than others. For instance, children quickly learned that one letter symbolizes two

allophones of the plural -s. Read concluded that spelling is a dynamic process that

parallels linguistic and cognitive growth in children.

Moats (1993) underscores the importance of examining children's spelling errors

along a phonological classification scheme. In her view, a phonetic analysis of spelling

entails counting the number of words or letters that are plausible phonetic equivalents of

the phonemes in the target word. A phonological analysis, on the other hand, matches the

articulatory features of the whole word as a dynamic speech gesture with its spelling

representation. Moreover, phonological processes interact with morphological awareness

and knowledge of orthographic patterns when learning to spell. The purpose of a

phonological spelling analysis scheme is to capture the degree of interaction between

language processes and thereby, to ascertain why certain features are sources of errors. It

is also assumed that a phonological spelling analysis will detect subtle processing deficits








that distinguish the spelling proficiency of dyslexics and normal children (Bailet, 1990;

Carlisle, 1987; Rubin, 1988)

Moats' scheme for a phonological spelling error analysis rests on the following

assumptions (1993). First, the phonological analysis will match the articulatory features

of the spoken word to its spelling representation. Units of analysis will include the word,

the syllable, and the phoneme. This means that the salient articulatory features of the

syllable should be easier to match with symbols than features that are internally complex

(e.g., the closed syllable pat versus the consonant cluster in sprat). A typical outcome of

this assumption is the simplification of syllables in spelling that is not only reminiscent of

children's beginning speech productions (Hoffinan & Norris, 1989) but also recapitulates

the creative nature of spelling development.

Another assumption of the phonological spelling error analysis is that certain classes

of phonemes are more likely to constitute a source of spelling error than others because

of their place or manner of articulation, their position in syllable, their stress, or their

coarticulation with other sounds. Children with subtle compromise of their phonological

systems are expected to make relatively more errors on those aspects of words with high

phonological difficulty, and less errors on those aspects of words that are phonologically

simpler, less accessible, more contrasted, or easier to segment and identify (Moats, 1993).

Finally, a phonological approach recognizes that a person's ability to spell a given

word phonetically might interact with other linguistic factors such as word length,

frequency, grammatical class and morphology (Moats, 1993). Furthermore, a

phonological interpretation of spelling would predict error patterns to change with

acquisition of relevant knowledge as a child progresses through the different stages of

spelling development (Schlagal, 1992). In this light, Moats (1993) stresses that a








frequency count of phonetically accurate spelling errors can broadly characterize a

child's efforts at surface phonetic representation of speech sounds. A phonologically-

based spelling error analysis is more likely to capture the subtle problems persons with

dyslexia face when spelling the linguistically complex and phonologically elusive aspects

of words.

Dyslexia and Spelling

Although dyslexia has been of interest to researchers since Orton's work in the early

1930s, the spelling processes of reading-disabled individuals have been generally

neglected. Orton (1931) commented that, "Usually an inability to spell is treated as of

more or less minor importance in sharp contrast to a reading disability" (p. 169). In more

recent years, Frith (1983) pointed out that children who have problems with both reading

and writing are called "dyslexic" and not "dysgraphic" even though, as a group, dyslexic

children have consistently lower spelling achievement than reading achievement. The

last two decades have witnessed an upsurge of interest in the spelling processes of

reading-disabled children. The Orton Dyslexia Society (1994) Research Committee and

the National Institutes of Health recognize spelling as an important component of both

written language and reading and define dyslexia as

a learning disability, a specific language-based disorder of constitutional origin

characterized by difficulties in single word decoding, usually reflecting insufficient

phonological processing abilities... Dyslexia is manifested by variable difficulty

with different forms of language, often including, in addition to problems reading, a

conspicuous problem with acquiring proficiency in writing and spelling. (p.4)

This definition of dyslexia implies a close relationship between reading and spelling.

Assuredly, research has shown that young children use spelling-sound information for








both reading and spelling (Treiman, 1984; Waters, Bruck, & Seidenberg, 1985; Waters,

Seidenberg, & Bruck, 1984). This finding leads to the assumption that good readers and

good spellers should have better knowledge of spelling-sound correspondences than poor

readers and poor spellers who are deficient in phonological processing (Treiman, 1997).

This view led to four primary research directions in the study of the spelling processes of

dyslexic individuals, (1) in comparison to good readers, poor readers exhibit a higher

number of dysphonetic spelling errors, (2) poor readers exhibit particular difficulty in

spelling novel and nonsense words, (3) poor readers may exhibit better orthographic than

phonetic knowledge in spelling, and (4) poor readers exhibit considerable difficulty

applying morphological knowledge to spelling. The following section reviews the

literature that addresses these research directives.

Phonetic and dysphonetic spelling errors

Phonetic errors are those in which each phoneme is represented with a letter or letter

group that may be used to symbolize that sound in conventional English. In a strict

criterion system, an error is phonetic only if it sounds like the target word when read

aloud. For example, 'tak' for 'take' is not a phonetic error using a strict criterion because

the rules of English call for a final 'e' in this context. In a lax criterion system, an error is

phonetic if each phoneme is represented by a letter regardless of contextual constraints.

In Treiman's (1997) recent review of the literature, she found four studies showing

that children with dyslexia did not produce a higher proportion of dysphonetic errors than

younger children of the same spelling age. Pennington and colleagues (1986) used both

lax and strict scoring systems in their study of dyslexic adults and normally achieving

children. Using a lax criterion, 35% of the dyslexic adults' errors were phonetically

inaccurate, as compared to 33% of the normal children's errors. Using a strict criterion,








difference in performance between the two groups was also not significant, with adult

dyslexics making 75% of dysphonetic errors compared to normal children's 71%. Moats

(1983) found that 39% of the errors made by fourth to eighth grade children with dyslexia

were dysphonetic compared to 44% for typical second grade children. Nelson (1980)

used a lax criterion to compare the spelling errors made by dyslexics and younger normal

children. Her analysis showed that for dyslexics, 35% of the errors were dysphonetic

whereas for the younger normal children, 36% of the errors were dysphonetic. Finally,

Bradley and Bryant (1979) compared dyslexic children with spelling-level matched

younger children. For both groups, at least one phoneme was spelled correctly in 90% of

the errors. Errors in which none of the phonemes were spelled correctly were no more

common among the dyslexics (3%) than among the normal children (5%).

Other studies however, have found evidence that children with dyslexia made fewer

phonetic errors than typical children of the same spelling level (Bruck, 1988; Olson,

1985). Strong support for this idea comes from the results of a study by Bruck.and

Treiman (1990) which examined the performance of dyslexics and younger spelling-level

matched children when asked to spell words with consonant clusters. Using a lax

criterion for phonetic legality, the dyslexics produced 36% dysphonetic errors as

compared to 21% for the normal children. Bruck and Treiman attributed this difference

to the nature of the classification scheme. In their opinion, dylexics' spelling errors

followed a primitive level of phonologically-based errors. Although the frequency of

these errors was higher than that made by younger children of the same spelling level, the

errors themselves were qualitatively similar to those of normal younger children.








Spelling of novel and nonsense words

Since poor readers have a phonological processing deficit, it is logical to assume that

they would have particular difficulty reading and spelling novel and nonsense words.

However, the few studies that have examined this assumption have yielded contradictory

findings. Bruck (1988) scored children's spellings of nonsense words using a strict

criterion and found no difference in the relative proportion of errors for children with and

without dyslexia. Two other studies (Martlew, 1992; Siegel & Ryan, 1988) however

reported significant differences between the spelling performance of dyslexics and

younger normal children matched on either reading or spelling level. From these studies,

it appears that dyslexics' spelling errors on both real and nonsense words are qualitatively

similar to those of younger normal children. These errors are invariably phonologically-

motivated and reflect an earlier stage of spelling development. Whether children with

dyslexia make more spelling errors than normal younger children will depend on

individual weaknesses and the nature of the spelling words.

Orthographic knowledge

Poor readers appear to have little difficulty learning permissible letter sequences.

Nelson (1980), for example, found that 82% of the dyslexics' spelling errors were

orthographically legal (e.g., "cack" as opposed to "chak" for "cake") compared to 87%

for the normal group. In another study, Siegel, Share and Geva (1995) compared first to

eighth grade readers with dyslexia to groups of normal children matched for reading

level. The children were shown pairs of words such as "moke/moje" and asked to select

the one that most resembled a real word. The poor readers actually did better than the

reading-matched controls. These studies indicate that poor readers' orthographic

knowledge is at least commensurate with their overall level of reading and spelling and








may even exceed the knowledge younger normal children have about orthographic

sequences.

Morphological knowledge

Higher-level spelling tasks require knowledge of the morphological structure of the

language and its applications to spelling rules. Thus spellers need to recognize that

variations in pronunciation of related words are not necessarily accompanied by

corresponding changes in spelling. The three words "electrical, electricity, and

electrician" are all spelled with the same letter "c" despite differences in pronunciation.

Very few studies have examined morphological knowledge in poor readers. Carlisle

(1987) compared ninth grade poor readers to fourth graders matched for spelling level.

The poor readers performed significantly better than the younger children on an oral test

of derivational morphology, but they had difficulty applying this knowledge to print. For

example, they frequently could spell only one cognate word correctly in a pair like

"magic/magician".

Bruck (1993) compared dyslexic college students to sixth graders matched for

spelling level. The dyslexic students performed more poorly than the sixth graders on all

the spelling tasks except the ones that tapped morphological knowledge. On these tests,

both groups performed comparably. Findings of the studies done by Carlisle (1987) and

Bruck (1993) suggest that most poor readers, including adult college students with

dyslexia, have difficulty applying morphological knowledge to spelling.

In summary, the research comparing spelling abilities of good and poor readers

matched for reading and/or spelling level indicates more similarities than differences

across the two groups. The spelling errors that poor readers make are definitely not

unusual. The errors classified as dysphonetic are typically phonologically-based and








similar to errors made by normal beginning spellers. The only striking difference

between dyslexics and normal readers is the coexistence of primitive phonologically-

based errors with relatively high levels of orthographic knowledge. This apparent

contradiction resolves itself when one considers that dyslexics core problem lies in an

inability to analyze and manipulate the sounds in a word, hence their difficulty spelling

novel or nonsense words. Impairment in phonological processing does not impede the

development and mastery of permissible letter sequences.

The good-reader poor-speller paradox

Clinical cases have uncovered students who display a marked discrepancy between

reading and spelling performance. This group of dyslexics is referred to in the literature

as the "good-reader poor-speller", or simply the "mixed" group. The leading research

question is whether this mixed group represents a point on a developmental continuum

between good readers/good spellers and poor readers/poor spellers, or whether this group

possesses a distinct learning profile, suggesting a specific disability of developmental

dysgraphia as opposed to developmental dyslexia.

Frith (1980) was probably the first researcher to study the spelling performance of

the good-reader poor speller. In her study, she compared the performance of a group of

adolescent good readers/good spellers (good), good readers/poor spellers (mixed) and

poor readers/poor spellers (poor) on a variety of reading and spelling skills. When

spelling errors were classified as phonetic or nonphonetic, the good and mixed groups

showed a high proportion of phonetic errors, suggesting a basic knowledge of letter-

sound associations. Subjects in the poor group however produced a high proportion of

nonphonetic errors. Frith hypothesized that the good reader/poor speller has mastered the

orthographic strategy in reading but has failed to transfer it to the spelling process. As a







39
result, this group of readers is able to spell regular words but has persistent problems with

irregular words.

Frith's findings were seriously challenged in a subsequent study by Waters, Bruck

and Seidenberg (1985). In this study, 36 third graders were divided into three groups

(good, mixed and poor) based on standardized measures of reading comprehension and

spelling. Contrary to Frith's findings that good readers/poor spellers have adequate

letter-sound association knowledge, the study by Waters and colleagues suggested that

the mixed group does not possess good knowledge of graphophonemic relationships for

either reading or spelling. The mixed and poor groups produced a smaller proportion of

phonetically accurate errors than did the good group in tasks which included nonwords

and five types of words that differed in terms of their spelling regularity. Furthermore,

even though the children in the mixed group had been matched with children in the good

group on both reading comprehension, the number and type of errors made by the mixed

group on both the reading and spelling tasks were more similar to those of the poor group

than those of the good group.

Bruck and Waters (1988) further probed the issue of the good reader/poor speller in

a controlled experiment on third and sixth graders who were identified as good, mixed

and poor based on single-word decoding or reading comprehension scores. Both a

constrained and unconstrained scoring system was used to classify the spelling errors.

When the unconstrained scoring system was used, the mixed group was comparable to

the poor group in that both exhibited proportionately fewer phonetic misspellings than the

children in the good group. Another consistent finding was that the mixed group was

identified with deficits in at least one area of reading, either word recognition or

comprehension. Bruck and Waters concluded that the mixed group represents a point in








the continuum of sound-spelling correspondence knowledge. Distinctions between the

good, mixed and poor groups can be made only at finer levels of sound-letter association

knowledge.

In summary, spelling is a language-based skill with phonological processing

knowledge forming the foundation for efficient spelling performance Poor spelling

skills can be undeniably attributed to deficits in some aspect of phonological processing.

Individual differences in spelling ability are primarily caused by fine distinctions in the

knowledge and use of sound-letter information.

Implications of Socioeconomic Status on Literacy

Socioeconomic differences are conventionally indexed by demographic variables

such as household income and parents' education and occupation, either alone or in some

weighted combination. In educational studies, the socioeconomic status (SES) of a

school or a community may also be estimated by the percentage of the enrolment

qualifying for federal lunch subsidies. Demographic data consistently suggest that

children from poor families are exposed to a broad array of conditions which in

themselves may be highly detrimental to the health, safety and cognitive development of

a young child. When combined, these conditions are likely to serve as strong risk factors

for reading difficulties (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 1995). No known

published work has specifically examined the effects of a low SES on spelling

achievement. It is nevertheless hypothesized that the spelling skills of children coming

from a poor economic background will be depressed, especially if their reading skills are

poor (Snow, Bums, & Griffin, 1998).

Differences in literacy achievement among children as a result of SES have been

documented in several large scale studies (Stubbs, 1980; White, 1982; Baker, Serpell, &








Sonnenschein, 1995; Hart & Risley, 1995). Stubbs (1980) found that 7.5% of children

coming from a high SES were poor readers compared to 26.9% of the children coming

from a low SES. Snow, Bums, and Griffin (1998) suggest that SES differences in

reading achievement are actually a result of differences in the quality of schooling since

lower SES children tend to receive poorer educational opportunities. A recent study by

Alexander and Entwisle (1996) appears to demonstrate that low and high SES children in

elementary grades exhibit a virtually identical rate of progress. However, it is during

non-school time that low SES children fall academically behind their higher SES peers

and get progressively further behind. White (1982) discovered that, at the individual

level, SES is related to achievement only very modestly. However, at the aggregate

level, when achievement was measured as a school or community characteristic, the

effects of SES are much more pronounced. A low SES child attending a generally

moderate SES school is far less at risk than an entire school of low SES children. Baker

and colleagues (1995) compared opportunities for informal literacy learning among

preschoolers in the homes of middle-income and low-income families. They found that

children from middle-income homes had greater opportunities for informal literacy

learning (such as visits to the local library, joint book reading, play activities with print)

than children of low-income homes. Low-income parents however, reported more

reading skills practice, such as the use of flash cards and help with homework, with their

kindergarten-age children than did middle-income families. Baker and colleagues'

findings that low-income homes typically offer some opportunities for literacy practice,

though perhaps of a different nature from middle-class families, have been documented

in several ethnographic studies (Gadsden, 1994; Goldenberg, Reese, & Gallimore, 1992).








Although families from lower SES appear to provide their children with some

language and literacy promoting experiences, it is unclear if the nature and quality of

these experiences are adequate and effective. Hart and Risley (1995) studied 42 families

selected to represent the range of American families by race and SES. They gathered

data from monthly observations during unstructured parent-child interactions in the home

over a period of two years Data collection began when each child was under one year of

age and not yet talking and continued until each child reached 3 years of age. The

parents' SES ranged from uneducated and economically disadvantaged to having

advanced degrees and upper income levels. Findings showed substantial variation across

the families with regard to the amount of time spent parenting, the parents' social

interaction with their children, and the content of the language parents addressed to their

children. The most striking finding was the large variability in the quantity of verbal

interaction across these families, and its strong correlation with SES, rate of vocabulary

growth and IQ. In a follow-up study of a few of the low SES children, the cumulative

impact of poor vocabulary growth was strongly linked to poor school performance

through third grade. Hart and Risley hypothesized that since vocabulary is associated

with reading outcomes, it seems likely that reduced opportunities for verbal interaction

would function as a potential risk factor.

The association of poor reading and spelling outcomes with poverty is not clearly

defined and reflects the accumulated effects of several risk factors, including lack of

access to literacy stimulating preschool experiences and to effective, coherent reading

instruction. Children who are likely to have difficulty with learning to read and spell in

the primary grades are those who begin school with less prior knowledge and skill in

relevant domains, most notably overall verbal abilities, phonological awareness, letter








knowledge and familiarity with reading and spelling scripts. Children from poor

neighborhoods are particularly at risk of entering school with weaknesses in these areas

and hence of falling behind from the onset.

With the advent of modern technology, there has been a growing interest in the

relationship between brain anatomy, reading disability and the contribution of

environmental factors such as SES. A longitudinal study by Eckert (1998) examined

reading readiness as a function of family and environmental variables in conjunction with

brain anatomy. Findings indicated that variation in brain anatomy and SES uniquely

predicted the distribution of verbal and phonological aptitude in a group representative of

the general population. Children who had an atypical anatomical pattern on the phoneme

processing area of the temporal cortex (i.e., they had reversed planar asymmetry) and

came from a low SES background were at greatest risk for reading impairment in fifth

grade.

Measures of Spelling Assessment

There are several commercially available tests for the assessment of English

spelling. The most commonly used ones are the Wide Range Achievement Test-3

(WRAT-3) by Jastak and Wilkinson (1993), the Test of Written Spelling-2 (TWS-2) by

Larsen and Hammill (1986) and the Boder Test of Reading-Spelling Patterns (Boder &

Jarrico, 1982). Subtests of spelling are also included in the Kaufman Test of Educational

Achievement (Kaufman & Kaufman, 1985) and the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of

Achievement-Revised (Woodcock & Johnson, 1989). All these tests are standardized

and meet the minimum psychometric criteria. In addition to these standardized spelling

tests, experimental procedures for the assessment of spelling skills can be found in the

research literature, and informal reading/spelling criterion-referenced inventories are








commercially available. These include the Qualitative Inventory of Word Knowledge

(Henderson, 1990; Schlagal, 1992), the spelling subtest of the Early Reading Screening

Inventory (ERSI) (Morris, 1992) and Mann, Tobin and Wilson's qualitative 5-point

scoring system (1987). This section briefly describes these tests, highlighting their major

strengths and weaknesses.

Standardized tests of spelling assessment

The WRAT-3 and the TWS-2 are the two most widely used standardized measures

of spelling assessment. The WRAT-3 is divided into two levels of difficulty based on the

phonetic transparency and orthographic pattern of the target word. The number of words

tested is determined by a method of ceiling to avoid examinee frustration. A major

criticism against this test is the fact that it does not sample the domain of spelling

adequately. No theoretical rationale is provided for the choice of vocabulary. For

instance, the WRAT-3 contains only predictable and variant-predictable words like abuse

and very few words with consonant blends, digraphs, and diphthongs. Words with

inflected endings, contractions, plurals, or homonyms are not tested. The TWS-2 is

divided into two groups of words, "predictable" words and "unpredictable" words

determined by the computer analysis of the Hanna et al. study (1966). Such a grouping

of spelling patterns is said to add content validity to the test. However, as illustrated in

previous sections, a dichotomous classification of words into "predictable/unpredictable"

spelling patterns is oversimplistic and misrepresents the complexity involved in spelling

acquisition. As pointed out by Moats (1994), the inclusion of words such asyes, much,

she in the "unpredictable" list is puzzling. Furthermore, complex linguistic structures

such as variant inflections are notably absent from both lists. A final but equally

important objection to the use of two distinct word lists is the assumption that each set of








words measures independent spelling abilities. In fact, the high correlation value

between the two lists implies that differences in performance on the two lists characterize

subtypes of spelling disability. No solid evidence exists to show that children with

phonological processing deficits do poorly on one or the other type of spelling words

(Stuart & Masterson, 1992).

The Boder Test of Reading-Spelling Patterns (Boder & Jarricho, 1982) is a novel

attempt to identify three subtypes of reading disability. The "dysphonetic" readers have

deficits in areas of phonological decoding. The "dyseidetic" readers have difficulty with

recall of auditory-visual information. The "mixed dysphonetic-dyseidetic" readers

apparently exhibit a combination of phonological decoding and auditory-visual memory

deficits. A key feature of the test involves scoring the percentage of predictable and

unpredictable unknown words on the reading test spelled as good phonetic equivalents.

Test reliability is seriously affected on two accounts. First, determining good phonetic

equivalence poses a major problem. Second, each child takes a different test as

determined by the results of the reading test.

The Kaufman (1985) and the Woodcock-Johnson (1989) tests cover a relatively

broad domain of spelling in the form of word dictation lists. Although the Kaufman test

provides a format for error analysis of prefixes, suffixes, syllable patterns, and vowel

spellings, neither test has sufficient items to measure fine increments in the spelling skills

of kindergartners or first graders.

Experimental tests of spelling development

The Qualitative Inventory of Word Knowledge (Henderson, 1990; Schlagal, 1992) is

a useful tool for determining a child's instructional level for spelling. The inventory

consists of six word lists drawn from a larger pool of words used to construct basal







46
spelling books for each grade level. The words in each list represent both the underlying

structural order in the orthography and the developmental progression of children's

concepts about print. The beginning levels include high frequency Anglo-Saxon words

(e.g., girl, want) while higher levels contain words of Latin and Greek origin which

embody complex relationships between sound, meaning and spelling patterns (eg.,

television, acknowledge, patient). As a general guideline, 90% accuracy on a list

constitutes independent functioning at that level; 50-89% constitutes instructional level

functioning and scores below 49% constitute frustration level functioning.

Scoring systems designed to be sensitive to developmental changes in early spelling

have been presented by several researchers (Lombardino, Bedford, Fortier, Carter &

Brandi, 1997; Mann, Tobin & Wilson, 1987). Mann and colleagues (1987) selected

words that would elicit preconventional phonetic spellings. The stimuli included the

presence of letter names, short vowels, nasals before stops, liquids, consonant digraphs,

and diphthongs. Scoring was based on quality points assigned according to the

progressive improvements children were expected to make on the basis of developmental

theory. A measure of this type given at the end of kindergarten proves to be a strong

predictor of reading ability at the end of first grade (Tangel & Blachman, 1995).

The spelling subtest of the ERSI (Morris, 1992) is sensitive to changes in the

spelling patterns of kindergarten children and is a strong predictor of reading skills in first

grade (Lombardino, Morris, Mercado, DeFillipo, Sarisky, & Montgomery, 1999). The

spelling subtest consists of twelve words that probe a child's ability to represent

consonant and vowel digraphs (chin, back, road, mail), consonant clusters (dress, step,

lamp), short vowels (back, dress), and inflections (picking, peeked). The words were

written upon dictation, and the subtest received a point-score (maximum points of 42)








based on the accuracy and order of graphemes. Lombardino and colleagues (1997)

modified Morris' scoring system and assigned one point to every sound correctly

represented in spelling. In addition, a qualitative error analysis scheme was proposed. In

this scheme, a spelling pattern was identified for a phonetic unit. In other words, the

scheme examined how a sound, represented in conventional orthography by either one

letter or a group of letters, was spelled by kindergartners. The inflectional endings -ed

and -ing were also treated as one sound. To illustrate, the consonant digraph ck in back

constituted a potential error of consonant digraph reduction; the vowel digraphs in road,

mail, feet, constituted a potential error of vowel digraph reduction. A total often spelling

error patterns were identified, and based on the response types of 100 kindergartners, a

rank ordering of the most frequently occurring spelling errors was established. A child's

performance on the ERSI spelling subtest can be analyzed using this scheme and findings

may be compared (although with caution since the ERSI norms are standardized on a

regional sample) to identify prevalent patterns of spelling errors. A second-generation

study, using the same ERSI spelling data (Ahmed & Lombardino, 2000), classified

spelling errors as types of phonological processes such as omission of prevocalic

consonant cluster and substitution of vowel digraph by letter-name or analogy to another

word. Such a classification scheme aims to see if a relationship exists between a

beginning speller's phonemic awareness and knowledge of conventional orthographic

rules. The scheme also brings to the surface the strategies young spellers use to

compensate for their lack of knowledge for conventional spellings. The scheme has been

applied to three spelling levels within kindergarten and typical patterns of spelling errors

have been identified for each level. The assessment was developed to help clinicians

identify kindergartener's level of spelling skills and characterize that child's strengths








and weaknesses in terms of his abilities to translate a perceived sound into its graphemic

representation.

Statement of the Problem

The Need for this Research

The complexity of English orthography is underscored by the fact that many

children and adults with normal intelligence and above average educational backgrounds

never reach mastery level in formal spelling tasks. Confusions between conventional

sequences of letters, such as or , often worry the most competent of spellers and

are not always resolved by modern Spell Check computer aids. The review of the

literature presented in preceding sections of this chapter emphasizes the fact that spelling

is a language-based skill with phonological processing at its core. In addition, studies on

children's earliest attempts at spelling indicate developmental trends that parallel many

developmental language domains, especially the acquisition of phonology

With the current mandate by many educators to teach children spelling as a logical

and organized language-based skill, there is a growing demand for graded instructional

material. Such instructional material needs to be based on developmental spelling

patterns that integrate phonological and orthographic components of spelling.

Consequently, there is an urgent need to focus spelling research on the normal processes

inherent in the acquisition of spelling during the elementary school grades.

Reading disabilities, known to affect at least one out of every five children in the

U.S. (Livesay, 1995), necessarily imply a deficit in spelling skills The earlier a child is

identified with reading and spelling difficulties, the more promising is a positive

prognosis resulting from intervention. Several spelling assessment tools are available but

none seem to capture the structural and developmental features of English spelling in an







49
integrated fashion. The development of such an assessment tool could facilitate the early

identification of children at risk for spelling deficits and provide a developmental

structure for remedial intervention.

The present study is intended to be a step toward identifying developmental spelling

patterns in second through fifth grade children- The findings of the study will provide a

developmental knowledge base for the recognition of spelling patterns in elementary

grade children. This knowledge base is hoped to provide evidence on the process and

acquisition of spelling in children. The development of spelling patterns will indicate

whether children learn via two distinct routes of knowledge, as proposed by the dual-

route model of spelling acquisition (Frith, 1980a), or children exhibit the gradual

development of connections between the two routes at an early stage, as suggested by the

amalgamation theory of spelling acquisition (Ehri, 1992b). Using this qualitative and

quantitative knowledge base, teachers and clinicians can adopt a procedure validated by

research to identify children with deficits in spelling knowledge.

A second equally important purpose of the present study is to design a tool for the

screening/ assessment of spelling abilities in children. A good tool satisfies at least two

basic conditions of design, homogeneity or representativeness of the standardization

sample and construct validity (McCauley & Swisher, 1984). The standardization process

involves administering the tool to a relatively large sample of subjects who are

representative of the population to be assessed, for example, elementary grade children

who exhibit poor spelling skills. If all subjects in the standardization sample, or subsets

of subjects divided into groups of interest such as grade, behave similarly on the tool, the

sample is considered to be homogeneous. Construct validity ensures that the tool

measures the theoretical construct it was designed to measure (Schiavetti & Metz, 1997).








Assuming that the theoretical construct itself is sound, the validity of a tool can be

assessed by testing for consistency of findings across at least two independent data

samples. The design of the present study accounts for homogeneity of the

standardization sample and construct validity by comparing results when the tool is

administered to two randomly selected and independent samples of subjects.


Experimental Questions

The following six experimental questions were addressed in this study:

1. Do children in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5 respectively and assigned to either a data
exploration set or a hypothesis testing data set exhibit similar patterns of
performance on an experimental spelling recognition test designed to assess
phonemic and orthographic knowledge?


2. Does spelling recognition performance show similar patterns of improvement
from 2"n to 5' grades in both the data exploration set and the hypothesis testing
data set?


3. Are there similar between-grade differences in the performance of the three
spelling patterns tested in the data exploration set and the hypothesis testing data
set respectively:
a. words involving phonemic awareness skills only, e.g., "wam" which tests
the short vowel occurring in a closed monosyllable,
b. words involving orthographic rule knowledge only, e.g., "neff' which
tests the doubling of the final letter when it occurs in a closed
monosyllabic word and is preceded by a lax vowel, and
c. words involving a combination of phonemic and orthographic rule
knowledge, e.g., "franceive" which tests the ability to discriminate and
encode a word initial consonant cluster as well as the orthographic rule of
spelling the long vowel in the sequence rather than when it
follows the letter ?


4. Are there similar within-grade differences in performance on the three spelling
patterns in the data exploration set and the hypothesis testing data set?


5. Are there similar distributions of error types at each grade level for the data
exploration set and the hypothesis testing data set?







51
6. Does SES (socio-economic status, as determined by lunch status) have a similar
effect on children's performance on the experimental spelling recognition test in
both the data exploration set and the hypothesis testing data set?


7. Do developmental spelling patterns and individual profiles of poor spellers,
identified by performance on the ESRT, provide evidence in support of the dual-
route model or the amalgamation theory of spelling acquisition?














CHAPTER 2
METHODOLOGY



The purpose of this study was to investigate patterns of normal spelling acquisition

in American English. Data collected from this study were used to answer questions about

the role of phonemic awareness and orthographic rule knowledge in the acquisition of

spelling. This chapter includes information on the subjects, design of the test,

experimental stimuli, administration of the test, scoring, and analysis procedures.


Subjects

Six schools in Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida, participated in this study. Four

of the participating schools were elementary public schools, one school was a private

Catholic school and one school was an experimental laboratory affiliated with the

University of Florida.

A total of 392 children from grades 2, 3, 4, and 5 participated in this study. The

distribution of subjects by grade and SES is shown below in Table 2-1. A subject's SES

was determined solely by lunch status.

Prior to testing any subject, Human Subjects approval was obtained from the

University of Florida IRB. Informed parental consent forms were sent home with each

student in every class. Small token gifts, such as fancy pencils, erasers, stickers, were

given to each child as a reinforcement for taking the parental consent form home,

showing it to the parents, having it signed, and returning it to the class teacher. Only

52








those students who returned signed permission forms were allowed to participate in the

study. Before administering the test, a Group Child Assent Form was read aloud and

only those children who still wished to participate were included in the study. The

Informed Parental Consent and the Group Child Assent forms are reproduced in

Appendix A.



Table 2-1. Distribution of Subjects by Grade and SES.

No. of Subjects % of Subjects on Free or
Reduced Lunch
Grade 2 82 29%
Grade 3 139 30%
Grade 4 91 35%
Grade 5 80 37%'Y




Design of the Spelling Test

An experimental spelling test, referred to as the Early Spelling Recognition Test

(ESRT), was designed to evaluate the phonemic awareness skills and orthographic rule

knowledge American English-speaking children possess in elementary school grades.

The underlying concepts of ESRT were adopted from two experimental spelling

recognition tasks, Olson and colleagues' Orthographic Choice task (1989) and Stanovich

and Siegel's Word Likeness task (1994). The Orthographic Choice task extends beyond

phonological decoding skills and assesses knowledge of word specific spellings. The

task consists of 25 triads of printed stimuli which are all phonologically similar, but

orthographically dissimilar. The examiner reads aloud the chosen word and uses it in a

sentence, while the child being tested is asked to circle the correct word from a choice of

three written items. For example, the child is presented with the choices "tite, tight, tait"






54
in response to the examiner's question: "tight; these shoes are too tight on my feet." The

Word Likeness task by Stanovich and Siegel (1994) comprises of 24 pairs of nonsense

words presented in written form on a sheet of paper. The child being tested is asked to

circle the item that looks most like a real word. The logic behind this task is that children

have to phonologically decode a novel word then select the one that conforms best to

conventions of the English orthographic spelling system.

One form of the ESRT was designed and the same test was given to children in

grades two through five to enable parallel comparisons of achievement. Nonwords that

conformed to standard rules of English pronunciation were selected as test items to

reduce the effect of reading and spelling familiarity that could result from using real

words.

A preliminary version of the spelling test was given to a group of graduate SLP

students in order to elicit their comments with regard to the appropriateness of the non-

words. Comments were studied and amendments were made to eliminate confusions

with the irregular spelling of common words. For example, the nonword "ness," which

targets the floss rule (doubling of final ), was replaced with "neff' since the former

was associated with the spelling of the very frequently used word "yes" rather than

"dress." The revised version of the spelling test was informally administered to a small

group of children from grades 2, 3, 4, and 5. None of the children exhibited any

frustration over the length and nature of the test. Total raw scores suggested an increase

in the number of correct answers as grade level increased.

Experimental Stimuli

The spelling test consists of 35 nonwords, 19 monosyllabic words such as "chint",

and 16 bisyllabic words such as "bolene". All words occur as single items in isolation.








In cases where a morpho-phonemic orthographic rule was tested, e.g., a variant to the

plural -s, the test item was presented in an appropriate context. For example, item #23

targets the spelling of the plural variant when preceded by the sibilant ; this item

was presented in the context: 'Teaches I have one each, you have two feaches".

The test items represent three types of spelling patterns:

1) Phonemic patterns only (PA-Only). This pattern describes nonword stimuli that
requires phonemic knowledge only, as in the test item "warn" which targets the
spelling of the short vowel la/ in a closed syllable;


2) Orthographic patterns only (Ortho-Only). This pattern describes nonword stimuli
that requires orthographic rule knowledge as in the test item "pindle" which
targets the spelling of vocalic /1/;


3) Combined phonemic and orthographic patterns (PA + Ortho). This pattern
describes a nonword stimuli that requires both phonemic and orthographic rule
knowledge as in the test item "quinch" which targets the spelling of the sound
/kw/ and the versus rule.


Of the 35 test items, 10 stimuli represented the PA-Only spelling pattern, 12

represented the Ortho-Only spelling pattern, and 13 represented the PA + Ortho spelling

pattern. The selection of spelling targets was based on findings reported in published

literature (Moats, 1994) as well as clinical reading/spelling protocols for targeting regular

and irregular sound-letter associations. In Table 2-2 below, the 35 test items are

classified into one of the three spelling patterns. For each test item, the target sound

and/or rule is described.

The spelling test is presented in a multiple-choice format (cf Appendix B for a copy

of the complete test). Four options, consisting of one correct answer and three foils, are

given (cf. Table 2-3 for a sample of the test format). While the first four test items are

relatively simple to spell, that is, they target the short vowels and in








Table 2-2. Classification of Test Items by Spelling Pattern.


Zatch
Quinch

Scrain


Rudge
Garlank
Pindle
Toof
Many hods

They moaded

Two feaches

Two tives

Two lastries


Test Item
Wamr

Ling

Neff

Chint
Yuntrude


Zuleps

Bimolt

Snate

Bolene
Glouch
Prath
Plurish
Swother


Spelling Pattern
PA Only

PA Only

PA + Ortho

PA Only
PA + Ortho


PA Only

PA Only

PA + Ortho

Ortho
PA Only
PA Only
PA Only
PA Only

Ortho Only
PA + Ortho

PA + Ortho

Ortho Only
PA + Ortho
Ortho Only
PA Only
PA + Ortho

PA + Ortho

PA + Ortho

Ortho Only

Ortho Only


Description
Short vowel
in closed
syllable
Short vowel in closed
syllable; -ng# blend
Short vowel in closed
syllable; doubled #
digraph; -nt# blend
Short vowel in closed
syllable; VC-e lengthening
rule
Long vowel in open
syllable; -ps# blend
Long vowel in open
syllable; -lt# blend
#sn- blend; VC-e
lengthening rule
VC-e lengthening rule
/au/ diphthong
and the reduction of IxJ to a tongue flap
in words like water, butler, and tetter. Most children in the phonetic spelling stage write
truck as , dragon as , and water as (Treiman, 1985;
1993). These errors suggest that children analyze spoken words into the constituent
phonemes but their phonemic classifications do not match symbols dictated by the
conventional writing system.
Letter reversals like for her are also frequently found during the phonetic
spelling stage and reflect linguistically-based errors (Treiman, 1997b). For children, the
spoken form of her contains an initial consonant followed by a syllabic hi. Young
children frequently omit the vowel altogether when spelling such words, as discussed
earlier. In other cases, a child may remember having seen an e in the printed form of her
or may realize that this word, like all other English words, must contain a vowel.
Because the spoken form of the word does not indicate where the vowel should be
placed, the child may arbitrarily misspell the word as . Errors that include a final

15
e may be particularly common because many words, like came and home, end with a
“silent” e. Thus, an error such as for her may be an invention that reflects both
phonology (the syllabic /r/ sound in the word) and orthographic knowledge (the
knowledge that all English words must be written with a vowel letter and that several
English words end in the letter .) It is largely a coincidence that such errors of letter
reversals tend to contain all of the letters of the conventional spelling.
The final stage of spelling development is called the morphemic, or within-word,
pattern stage. To reach this stage, children must be able to recognize the constancy of
many morpheme spellings and learn to consider meaning, sound and syntax to spell
correctly (Bryant, Nunes, & Bindman, 1997; Nunes, Bryant, & Bindman, 1997). The
transition into correct spelling requires children to absorb certain basic concepts about the
structure of English orthography. Children learn, either explicitly or implicitly, that
many vowels are spelled with digraphs, that some letters can be doubled, that spellings
change when endings are added and that much phonetic detail is not represented in
writing. This stage of spelling acquisition lasts well into the secondary school years and
constantly undergoes refinement with exposure to the printed word, reading skills and
understanding of the grammatical structure of the English language. At this stage, writers
rely to a large extent on the use of educated analogies. Thus, once a novel word is
analyzed semantically and syntactically, it is spelled by analogy to another word of the
same phonetic structure as well as syntactic class. According to Ehri (1989), word
features are cross-referenced in memory. When one aspect of a word image is activated
in memory, the other known features are also activated along with other words that share
those features. Accumulating this knowledge base is a protracted developmental process.
Words are learned in stages and word concepts are elaborated gradually with experience

16
This stage is also characterized by increasing use of language-specific orthographic
rules, such as the twinning of a consonant when adding a suffix or the deletion of a final e
when adding a suffix that begins with a vowel. As a note of caution, it is incorrect to
assume that children in the earlier stages of spelling acquisition are totally unaware of
orthographic rules. Orthographic rules may be classified by degree of complexity based
on the frequency of their application to vocabulary items (Carney, 1994). For instance,
the vowel lengthening magic -e rule in monosyllables such as home, lake, and kite is a
simpler rule of orthography compared to the consonant-syllabic 1-silent e rule in words
like cradle, title and nozzle. Cassar and Treiman (1997) conducted a series of
experiments on kindergarteners and first-graders using nonsense words containing both
legal and illegal combinations of consonants The experiments probed children’s ability
to recognize acceptable spelling patterns based on positional letter constraints Examples
of the test items included word pairs such as “nuck-ckun” and pess-ppes” Results of the
experiments indicated that as early as in first grade, young spellers are sensitive to simple
and highly frequent orthographic rules. Cassar and Treiman’s study (1997) not only
emphasized the fact that the acquisition of spelling is a continuous learning process but
also suggested that every stage represents the use of multiple spelling strategies which
integrate the phonological and orthographic elements of spelling The extent of this
integration is not however equal among the two elements at any stage. The phonetic
stage is, for instance, heavily loaded with strategies of sound properties whereas the
morphemic stage is largely characterized by orthographic rules that predict the spelling of
morphemes
Although little is known about the nature and sequence of later stages of spelling
development, there is no doubt that middle-grade and high-school children continue to

17
refine their concepts of orthography and their ability to associate spelling patterns with
speech patterns (Moats, 1995). As children learn more words, and have more examples
in memory of redundant spelling patterns, they can rely increasingly on analogy
strategies to spell (Ehri, 1989; Goswami, 1988). Children also become increasingly more
aware of opaque phonological relationships among derived words (Templeton, 1992),
and employ this knowledge, as opposed to visual recall, to generate a correct spelling.
Finally, advanced spellers learn to use multiple sources of linguistic information about
words from their orthographic, phonological, semantic and etymological knowledge to
facilitate spelling memory, recall and decoding.
Theories on the Process of Spelling
Experimental and naturalistic studies of spelling errors and slips of the pen have
contributed to a large extent towards our understanding of the mental processes involved
in the act of spelling The traditional school of thought (Fry, 1985) regards the act of
spelling as a process of retaining and storing visual orthographic images learned by
memorization of letter sequences The psycholinguistic school of thought (Read, 1986;
Treiman, 1993) describes the acquisition of spelling as a creative process and stresses the
importance of phonological awareness as a basic prerequisite to successful spelling skills.
Knowledge of orthographic rules is required to refine advanced spelling patterns and
develops in later stages of spelling acquisition with exposure to print. Currently, there
exist two competing theories to explain the mental processes involved in spelling. The
dual-route theory proposes that there are two separate neural pathways that can be
recruited during spelling The connectionist theory emphasizes the extent to which
different aspects of word knowledge are tapped simultaneously and in parallel during the

18
spelling process. This theory also emphasizes the interdependence of one type of
linguistic knowledge on another.
Many cognitive neuro-psychologists have presented evidence for a dual-route theory
of reading and spelling from laboratory experiments and detailed case study analyses of
individuals with brain lesions (Caramazza, Miceli, Villa, & Roman, 1987; Ellis, 1993;
Frith, 1980a). The dual-route theory of spelling is based on the conceptual premise that
children pass through distinct stages of spelling development, and that impaired spelling
development can be characterized in terms of inability to progress beyond a particular
stage. In Ellis’ (1993) and Barry’s (1994) dual-route model of spelling processes, there
are two major modules that communicate in parallel via a semantic processor. The
phonological module (also known as the assembled route) stores information about the
sound structure of words. It is specialized to analyze words into their component
phonemes and then assign each phoneme to its corresponding grapheme Spelling via the
phonological module is regarded as a slow process. It is mainly used when encoding
novel words or pseudo-words following a regular phonological structure. Irregular words
would be spelled with phonologically plausible spelling patterns
The visual-orthographic module (also known as the lexical or word-specific route)
stores information about graphemes and grapheme sequences in words In its capacity as
a storehouse for word spellings, the visual-orthographic module holds the spelling
patterns of all memorized words irrespective of their degree of phoneme-grapheme
predictability. The spelling of a particular word can be retrieved from the visual-
orthographic module and produced in response to a meaning cue and/or a pronunciation
cue. If a meaning cue alone triggers the recall of a visually-learned spelling, a lexical
error may arise since the target word may be substituted by a synonym, as in large for

19
huge If the retrieval of a word from orthographic memory is triggered by a sound cue
without full connection with a meaning cue, a homophone might be written, as two for
too. If the retrieval of a word from orthographic memory is stimulated by a partial
phonological cue, a word with similar but slightly different phonemic structure might be
written, as rich for ridge Finally, if the letters of a word are not completely known, a
visually similar word might be retrieved from the orthographic processor with omission,
or reversal, of letters, as in the following slips of the pen made by literate adult writers
(wuold for would, ponente for phoneme, and nihl for night). Once a spelling has been
retrieved either lexically, or assembled, it is deposited in a presumed graphemic output
buffer which holds spellings while output processes such as writing, typing, or oral
spelling, are being implemented
The dual-route theory for spelling considers the visual-orthographic module as the
major spelling processor Consequently, it accounts adequately for slips of the pen and
the spelling errors observed in cases of acquired dysgraphia (Caramazza et al., 1987;
Posteraro, Zinelli, & Mazzucchi, 1988; Shallice, 1981). However, studies on
developmental spelling provide increasing evidence of an integration between
phonological and visual-orthographic knowledge, an aspect which violates the
dissociation between information pathways in the dual-route theory In reaction to this
weakness in the foundations of the dual-route theory, connectionist models of reading
and spelling processes were generated (Seidenberg & McClelland, 1989; Van Orden,
Pennington, & Stone, 1990). Connectionist models emphasize that language learning
depends on the extraction and recall of relationships among events Seidenberg and
McClelland (1989) developed the distributed, developmental model of word recognition
and naming to depict the interactive nature between the involved processors. Hoffinan

20
and Norris (1989) adapted and refined this word recognition model to developmental
spelling. According to the parallel, distributed processing model of Hoffman and Norris
(1989), the process of spelling begins at the lexical level. All relevant knowledge is
activated in memory when a word is spelled and various aspects of word knowledge
interact with and influence one another constantly (Adams, 1990; Ehri, 1980). According
to the transformational grammarians Chomsky and Halle (1968), a lexical item is
characterized by a set of identities. The semantic identity specifies the meaning of a
word; the syntactic identity specifies the part of speech represented by a word; the
morphological identity specifies inflectional and derivational endings; and the
phonological identity specifies the acceptable sound patterns. The connectionist model
for spelling incorporates an additional orthographic identity to explain the rule-governed
associations between sounds and letters (Simon, 1976). The building blocks of this
orthographic identity are alphabet letters which, like words, are specified multi-modally,
including correspondences among alternative alphabetic codes such as upper versus
lower case, or print versus cursive.
Connectionist models, like dual-route models, pose that there are separate modules
responsible for storage and retrieval of phonological, orthographic, and semantic
information during the reading and spelling process. Unlike dual-route models where
information across modules is generally not recruited, a connectionist model proposes
that all aspects of word knowledge stored in the different modules are activated and used
simultaneously. This activation depends on the extraction and recall of relationships
among the different lexical identities Thus, when a word is spelled, all relevant
knowledge is activated in memory, initiating an interaction between the different aspects
of word knowledge. Furthermore, each module consists of neural connections which,

21
when activated, are strengthened with practice and exposure to print (Hoffman & Norris,
1989). A beginning speller thus possesses the simplest forms of connectivity for spelling
relationships. As connections become stronger through exposure to, and practice with
print, the associations between phonemes and graphemes are retrieved more easily. In
contrast to the beginning speller, the experienced writer knows the spelling of a set of
lexical items and the frequency with which these words are used, determines the
association weights between sounds and symbols for that person.
A connectionist model for spelling attempts to account for the reason children’s
earliest attempts at writing reflect phonological patterns from the beginning stages of
speech production. Ehri (1992b) reconceptualized the parallel distributed processing
model for reading and spelling and introduced her visual-phonological route model, or
amalgamation theory, to support the importance of phonological processing in reading
and spelling. Whereas a speller analyzes a word through the arbitrary connections
established between pronunciation and meaning using the visual pathways of both the
dual-route and the connectionist models, the amalgamation theory proposes that a word is
spelled through systematic connections established between phonological,
morphological, orthographic, semantic and syntactic features In the early stages of
spelling acquisition, these systematic connections are established through knowledge of
letter-sound correspondences The connections influence one another and through a
process of amalgamation, they become strongly bonded as orthographic images. It is
these images that are recalled every time a word is spelled. In the case of a novel or
nonsense word, a similar sounding orthographic image is recruited, but it is then amended
through systematic analysis of word knowledge. Ehri suggests that children who spell
poorly demonstrate greater discrepancy between phonological and orthographic

22
processing than good spellers. Since the poor spellers cannot recall an orthographic
image from the orthographic processor, they remain overly dependent on the sound
structure of the target word. In Ehri’s opinion (1984, p 145), print provides children
with a “schema for conceptualizing and analyzing the structure of speech.”
In summary, based on Ehri’s amalgamation theory (1992b), more current models
have been developed to explain how children learn to spell, first accurately, then rapidly
(Brown & Loosemore, 1995; Perfetti, 1992, 1997). These models stress the use of
multiple sources of information required for reading and spelling Two pathways have
been suggested, a visual-orthographic pathway and a phonological-orthographic pathway.
In general, developmental spelling studies indicate that children recruit information from
both pathways thus enhancing the connections between phonemic and orthographic
segments of words, and eventually build in memory a store of systematic orthographic
word images. In the early stages, the development of accurate orthographic images
depends heavily on phonological awareness; in later stages, it depends on the ability to
integrate different features of word knowledge such as phonology, morphology, syntax
and orthographic rules. Most children acquire phonological awareness through indirect
instruction such as nursery rhymes and sounding-out word games. However, some
children have difficulty assimilating the concepts of letter-sound correspondences. These
children often exhibit difficulty in learning to read and write and require explicit
instruction in phonological awareness in order to build orthographic images in memory
Phonological Processing as the Foundation for Learning to Spell
Phonological processing
Research has established unequivocally that spelling is a multifaceted form of
linguistic representation that integrates phonological, morphological, semantic, and

23
orthographic knowledge (Fischer, Shankweiler, & Liberman, 1985; Henderson, 1990,
Read, 1986). The core of this integrated framework of linguistic information that
embodies English spelling is represented by the alphabetic principle. This alphabetic
principle describes the conventional letter-sound associations of the language and lies at
the core of what is frequently called phonological processing. Phonological processing is
defined as “an individual’s mental operations that make use of the phonological or sound
structure of oral language when he or she is learning how to decode written language”
(Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte, 1994, p 276). Torgesen et al further note that one of
the most frequently studied phonological processing skills is phonological awareness
Phonological awareness is generally defined as one’s sensitivity to, or explicit awareness
of, the phonological structure of the words in one’s language. This explicit awareness
allows an individual to recognize that a spoken word consists of smaller components such
as syllables and phonemes and that these units can be consciously manipulated to decode
a written word, or analyze a word into its sound components prior to spelling it
Phonological awareness is consequently measured by tasks requiring children to identify,
isolate, or blend individual phonemes in words (p 276).
A developmental hierarchy of phonological awareness skills has been identified in
the literature on reading and spelling acquisition (Goswami & Bryant, 1990; Moráis,
1991; Tunmer & Hoover, 1992; Tunmer & Rohl, 1991; Yopp, 1988) At the earliest
levels of the hierarchy, phonological awareness skills require the identification and
manipulation of syllabic units within a word (e g., say ‘football’ without the ‘ball’). The
next level of phonological awareness skills requires the ability to focus on components of
sounds that rhyme. Tasks at this intrasyllabic awareness level focus on the identification
and isolation of onsets and rimes in words (eg., find the odd man out: ‘bag, hag, nine,

24
tag’). The highest level of phonological awareness skills, referred to as phonemic
awareness, requires explicit manipulation of individual phonemes. Tasks of phonemic
awareness involve the identification of sounds in words, segmentation of words into
constituent sounds and blending sounds to form words or nonwords. At the phonemic
awareness level, an individual is capable of consciously manipulating phonemes and, in
the case of spelling, can represent individual phonemes with the corresponding
conventional graphemes
Phonemic awareness and its role in spelling
Spelling requires the explicit ability to segment a word into its phonemic components
and then select the alphabetic symbol that corresponds to each sound in the word (Morris
& Pemey, 1984; Tangel & Blachman, 1992). Several studies that examined the spelling
characteristics of children have shown that there exists a relationship between degree of
phonological awareness and spelling success in preliterate and literate children (Tunmer
& Rohl, 1991; Wagner & Torgesen, 1987). Treiman’s extensive research on the spelling
errors of kindergarten and first grade children (1997) shows a strong relationship between
phonemic awareness and spelling development Treiman found that children’s early
spelling errors are not idiosyncratic attempts at writing but reflect the use of phonetic
strategies; as a result, children produce spellings such as ‘jragon’ for ‘dragon’ where the
word initial consonant cluster is affricated due to articulatory positioning.
Studies on the spelling characteristics of poor spellers also suggest overall weakness
in phonological awareness skills (Bruck & Treiman, 1990; Foorman & Francis, 1994;
Goswami & Bryant, 1990; Liberman, Rubin, Duques, & Carlisle, 1985) Bruck and
Treiman (1990) compared the phonological awareness skills of poor spellers to younger,
spelling-level matched controls. The results of the study suggested that the poor spellers

25
exhibited weaker phonological awareness skills than expected given their performance on
standardized spelling tests. The poor spellers in the study performed significantly worse
than the control group on tasks of phoneme deletion as well as phoneme recognition.
Although children in both groups made errors, the poor spellers exhibited greater
difficulty on the tasks and missed a higher number of test items. Stuart and Masterson
(1992) studied the relationship between prereading phonological abilities and later
reading and spelling skills in a group of 10-year-old children who were initially assessed
as 4-year-old prereaders. The results of the study indicated that children’s scores on
phonological awareness tasks as prereaders significantly predicted their spelling
performance six years later. Children with good early phonological awareness obtained
consistently higher scores on tasks of nonword spelling and their errors were more
phonologically-driven than those made by children with poor early phonological
awareness.
The influence of phonological awareness on early spelling development is
highlighted by the results of explicit instruction in phonemic awareness. Ball and
Blachman (1991) investigated the effect of training phoneme segmentation and
instruction in letter names and letter sounds on word recognition and spelling. Their
study included 89 kindergarten children whose mean age was 5.71 years. Subjects were
divided into three treatment groups. The phoneme awareness group received training in
segmenting words into phonemes and in letter-name-sound correspondences; the
language group received training in letter-name-sound correspondences only; the control
group received no training. Results of the study showed that children in the phoneme
awareness group performed significantly better on reading and spelling than children in
the language and control groups respectively. Children in the phoneme awareness group

26
were able to generalize trained items to novel ones Children in the language group did
not significantly improve in phoneme segmentation skills, reading skills or spelling skills
when compared to the control group. Tangel and Blachman (1992, 1995) conducted a
longitudinal study to trace the effect of explicit instruction in phonemic awareness on the
spelling skills of first grade children Children in the intervention and control groups
were matched on age, sex, race, phoneme segmentation abilities, and word identification
test scores. The children in the intervention group received training in say-it-move-it
phoneme activities, segmentation activities, and letter-name and letter-sound activities
four times a week over a period of 11 weeks The results of the study showed that
children in the intervention group outperformed the control group on tasks of phoneme
segmentation, letter-sound correspondence, and phonetic reading of regular words and
nonwords. Furthermore, children in the intervention group exhibited significantly better
spelling performance than the control group Tangel and Blachman attributed this
significant difference to the combined effects of intensive and consistent training in
letter-sound associations and manipulations during the early stages of spelling
acquisition
Schemes of Spelling Analysis
A review of the literature on spelling acquisition indicates that accuracy in spelling
forms is largely determined by the writer’s awareness of (1) phonological characteristics
of spoken syllables (Hoffman & Norris, 1989); (2) characteristics of individual phonemes
(Hoffman & Norris, 1989); (3) morphophonemic aspects of word structure (Schlagal,
1986; Sterling, 1983); and (4) orthographic structures (Henry, 1988). By implication,
effective interpretation of spelling can best be achieved by means of a scheme that
incorporates at least some of these factors Over the years of spelling research, four

27
major schemes of analysis have been proposed and implemented These schemes are (1)
serial sequencing of letters, (2) predictable/unpredictable words, (3) phonetic/dysphonetic
error classification, and (4) phonological analysis.
Serial sequencing of letters
In the 40s and 50s, the prevailing school of thought was that children mastered the
English spelling system by rote visual memorization. Learning to spell by this approach
presupposes attentiveness and a good visual memory but little linguistic knowledge.
Children were expected to memorize strings of letters forming the spelling of a word by
visual and/or auditory input, then retrieve this information through a memory recall loop.
Consequently, early studies on spelling (Fry, 1985; Mendenhall, 1930; Spache, 1940)
aimed to identify difficult words, or difficult elements in words, and to compile fists of
words generally misspelled by children. Misspellings were compared letter by letter to
the conventional spelling of the target word, then classified as errors of letter omission,
substitution, addition, or reversal. Such a classification scheme stresses the serial
ordering of letters within a word and assesses children’s spelling skills as a function of
their ability to memorize and recall a string of letters as rapidly and as correctly as
possible. This scheme fails to capture the relationships between the spelling of a word
and its pronunciation, thus overshadowing the reasons why children make certain errors,
but outgrow others, in the course of their early years of spelling acquisition.
Predictable/ unpredictable words
This approach to spelling analysis divides fists for dictation into words comprised of
so-called predictable spelling patterns, and those that are unpredictable. Relative success
on these pre-categorized items is compared, with the expectation that children with
reading disabilities will perform differently on the two lists according to their strengths

28
and weaknesses. This implies that children with poor phonological processing skills are
likely to make more errors on the phonically predictable words relative to unpredictable
words that can be learned by memorization only. Analysis of spelling errors by a
predictable/ unpredictable word approach poses several conceptual problems. First,
predictability is a matter of degree In English, a word’s predictability comprises not
only phonetic transparency, but also morphological structure, word origin, and
orthographic conventions (Fischer, Shankweiler, & Liberman, 1985). Some words
follow patterns that are constrained by word origin and phonemic environment (e g., the
long vowel sounds in the words find, old, wild) Many words conform to orthographic
rules (eg., after in words like have, love). The spelling of the majority of words
in English is phonetically opaque, but becomes predictable if analyzed in light of its
morphological structure (e g., the phonetic variants for the plural morpheme).
Moats (1993) raises an important objection regarding the diagnostic and intervention
value of predictable/ unpredictable words lists. There is little evidence that children who
are poor spellers are more likely to respond differentially to word lists sorted as
predictable and unpredictable Furthermore, there is no evidence that differences in
performance on two lists are reliable over time in younger children Neither is there any
external validation that children who respond better on one list respond uniquely to any
given instructional approach.
Phonetic/ dvsphonetic error classification
Another approach to analysis of spelling involves classifying errors as either good or
poor phonetic equivalents. Contrary to the traditional view that reading and spelling were
acquired through serial memorization, the phonetic/ dysphonetic error classification
system viewed learning as a creative process. Emphasis consequently shifted from a

29
visual orthographic task of memory to spelling as a developmental process. In this
system, phonetic accuracy is determined holistically, by judging how well the entire word
represents the sounds, or by applying phoneme-by-phoneme rating systems that specify
how well each speech sound is represented in an individual’s spelling attempts. A
phonetic error, such as for cried, was considered a linguistically acceptable
representation of the target word. On the other hand, the spelling for peach
(Treiman, 1993, p. 34) violates all possible representations of the spoken word and is
therefore, a dysphonetic error Recent work by Treiman (1997, 1998) presents a well-
documented critique on the weaknesses embodied in a two-dimensional phonetic/
dysphonetic error classification scheme. Treiman argues that such a scheme fails to
capture the developmental processes reflected in a child’s spelling attempts. A few
salient examples include the reduction of consonant clusters in spelling, or the omission
of the letter in stressed syllables with r-controlled vowels (eg., car, her, bird).
Children bring to the act of spelling their awareness of phoneme, syllable and rime units
integrated with a developing knowledge of orthographic conventions. They do not omit
elements from a consonant cluster or a syllable because they do not perceive them, or
cannot articulate them. They omit these elements because they do not possess sufficient
orthographic knowledge and thus resort to strategies like letter names and representation
of whole syllables rather than individual phonemes
As spelling deficits are primary characteristics of reading disorders, this population
has often been the target of investigations on spelling acquisition. Frith (1980b) and
Nelson (1980) examined the phonetic accuracy of the misspellings of three groups of
children, good readers-good spellers (good), good readers-poor spellers (mixed) and poor
readers-poor spellers (poor) Based on the percentage of phonetically misspelled

30
phonemes, the mixed and the poor subjects constituted two distinct subgroups of
dyslexics. However, the phonetic/ dysphonetic classification scheme did not reveal any
qualitative difference between normally progressing children and the two subgroups of
poor spellers. Brock and Waters (1988) refined the phonetic classification scheme by
introducing positional constraint criteria. In their scheme, spelling forms were
considered phonetically acceptable only if they satisfied orthographic conventions
relative to the position of the sound and its associated letter in a syllable. Thus, the
spelling for back is regarded as unacceptable because the digraph
necessarily follows a short vowel in a stressed syllable. Brock and Waters’ (1988)
constrained letter-sound classification system did show that mixed spellers have marked
deficits in letter-sound knowledge compared to good spellers. However, results of the
study failed to distinguish between subtypes of poor spellers.
In addition to its failure to distinguish between subtypes of poor spellers, Moats
(1993) points out another problem with the phonetic/ dysphonetic classification approach.
Such a classification scheme assumes that spelling is a dual route process involving both
a phonological processing system and an orthographic processing system, each of which
may be selectively dysfunctional in a dyslexic child. However, studies on the spelling
skills of dyslexic children suggest that both proficient and non-proficient spellers may
vary along the dimensions of phonological and orthographic processing (Bryant &
Impey, 1986; Moats, 1983; Stanovich, 1988). If phonetic accuracy or inaccuracy were
characteristics of subtypes, these subtypes would represent a normal continuum of
learning style differences rather than types of disorder.
Another problem with the phonetic/ dysphonetic dichotomy in spelling analysis is
the assumption that phonological and orthographic processes are associated with

31
distinctive aspects of spelling production (Moats, 1993). Diagnostically, such a system
will try to identify children who are on the extremes of continuous distributions in both
processes (Boder & Jarrico, 1982). This assumption clearly belies the present belief that
most children develop phonological and orthographic processing skills in an interactive
and integrated manner (Ehri, 1989).
Phonological analysis
In his study on children’s creative spellings, Read (1986) noticed that spelling
patterns not only reflected a child’s perception of the phonetic form of a word, but they
also generalized to other similar sounding words After computing the frequencies of
spellings for selected phonemes, Read found that some phonetic properties were more
salient than others For instance, children quickly learned that one letter symbolizes two
allophones of the plural -s. Read concluded that spelling is a dynamic process that
parallels linguistic and cognitive growth in children
Moats (1993) underscores the importance of examining children’s spelling errors
along a phonological classification scheme In her view, a phonetic analysis of spelling
entails counting the number of words or letters that are plausible phonetic equivalents of
the phonemes in the target word. A phonological analysis, on the other hand, matches the
articulatory features of the whole word as a dynamic speech gesture with its spelling
representation. Moreover, phonological processes interact with morphological awareness
and knowledge of orthographic patterns when learning to spell. The purpose of a
phonological spelling analysis scheme is to capture the degree of interaction between
language processes and thereby, to ascertain why certain features are sources of errors. It
is also assumed that a phonological spelling analysis will detect subtle processing deficits

32
that distinguish the spelling proficiency of dyslexics and normal children (Bailet, 1990;
Carlisle, 1987; Rubin, 1988)
Moats’ scheme for a phonological spelling error analysis rests on the following
assumptions (1993). First, the phonological analysis will match the articulatory features
of the spoken word to its spelling representation. Units of analysis will include the word,
the syllable, and the phoneme This means that the salient articulatory features of the
syllable should be easier to match with symbols than features that are internally complex
(e g , the closed syllable pat versus the consonant cluster in sprat). A typical outcome of
this assumption is the simplification of syllables in spelling that is not only reminiscent of
children’s beginning speech productions (Hoffman & Norris, 1989) but also recapitulates
the creative nature of spelling development
Another assumption of the phonological spelling error analysis is that certain classes
of phonemes are more likely to constitute a source of spelling error than others because
of their place or manner of articulation, their position in syllable, their stress, or their
coarticulation with other sounds Children with subtle compromise of their phonological
systems are expected to make relatively more errors on those aspects of words with high
phonological difficulty, and less errors on those aspects of words that are phonologically
simpler, less accessible, more contrasted, or easier to segment and identify (Moats, 1993).
Finally, a phonological approach recognizes that a person’s ability to spell a given
word phonetically might interact with other linguistic factors such as word length,
frequency, grammatical class and morphology (Moats, 1993). Furthermore, a
phonological interpretation of spelling would predict error patterns to change with
acquisition of relevant knowledge as a child progresses through the different stages of
spelling development (Schlagal, 1992). In this light, Moats (1993) stresses that a

33
frequency count of phonetically accurate spelling errors can broadly characterize a
child’s efforts at surface phonetic representation of speech sounds. A phonologically-
based spelling error analysis is more likely to capture the subtle problems persons with
dyslexia face when spelling the linguistically complex and phonologically elusive aspects
of words.
Dyslexia and Spelling
Although dyslexia has been of interest to researchers since Orton’s work in the early
1930s, the spelling processes of reading-disabled individuals have been generally
neglected. Orton (1931) commented that, “Usually an inability to spell is treated as of
more or less minor importance in sharp contrast to a reading disability” (p. 169). In more
recent years, Frith (1983) pointed out that children who have problems with both reading
and writing are called “dyslexic” and not “dysgraphic” even though, as a group, dyslexic
children have consistently lower spelling achievement than reading achievement. The
last two decades have witnessed an upsurge of interest in the spelling processes of
reading-disabled children. The Orton Dyslexia Society (1994) Research Committee and
the National Institutes of Health recognize spelling as an important component of both
written language and reading and define dyslexia as
a learning disability, a specific language-based disorder of constitutional origin
characterized by difficulties in single word decoding, usually reflecting insufficient
phonological processing abilities. Dyslexia is manifested by variable difficulty
with different forms of language, often including, in addition to problems reading, a
conspicuous problem with acquiring proficiency in writing and spelling, (p.4)
This definition of dyslexia implies a close relationship between reading and spelling.
Assuredly, research has shown that young children use spelling-sound information for

34
both reading and spelling (Treiman, 1984; Waters, Bruck, & Seidenberg, 1985; Waters,
Seidenberg, & Bruck, 1984). This finding leads to the assumption that good readers and
good spellers should have better knowledge of spelling-sound correspondences than poor
readers and poor spellers who are deficient in phonological processing (Treiman, 1997).
This view led to four primary research directions in the study of the spelling processes of
dyslexic individuals, (1) in comparison to good readers, poor readers exhibit a higher
number of dysphonetic spelling errors, (2) poor readers exhibit particular difficulty in
spelling novel and nonsense words, (3) poor readers may exhibit better orthographic than
phonetic knowledge in spelling, and (4) poor readers exhibit considerable difficulty
applying morphological knowledge to spelling. The following section reviews the
literature that addresses these research directives.
Phonetic and dysphonetic spelling errors
Phonetic errors are those in which each phoneme is represented with a letter or letter
group that may be used to symbolize that sound in conventional English. In a strict
criterion system, an error is phonetic only if it sounds like the target word when read
aloud. For example, ‘tak’ for ‘take’ is not a phonetic error using a strict criterion because
the rules of English call for a final ‘e’ in this context. In a lax criterion system, an error is
phonetic if each phoneme is represented by a letter regardless of contextual constraints.
In Treiman’s (1997) recent review of the literature, she found four studies showing
that children with dyslexia did not produce a higher proportion of dysphonetic errors than
younger children of the same spelling age. Pennington and colleagues (1986) used both
lax and strict scoring systems in their study of dyslexic adults and normally achieving
children Using a lax criterion, 35% of the dyslexic adults’ errors were phonetically
inaccurate, as compared to 33% of the normal children’s errors. Using a strict criterion,

35
difference in performance between the two groups was also not significant, with adult
dyslexics making 75% of dysphonetic errors compared to normal children’s 71%. Moats
(1983) found that 39% of the errors made by fourth to eighth grade children with dyslexia
were dysphonetic compared to 44% for typical second grade children. Nelson (1980)
used a lax criterion to compare the spelling errors made by dyslexics and younger normal
children. Her analysis showed that for dyslexics, 35% of the errors were dysphonetic
whereas for the younger normal children, 36% of the errors were dysphonetic. Finally,
Bradley and Bryant (1979) compared dyslexic children with spelling-level matched
younger children. For both groups, at least one phoneme was spelled correctly in 90% of
the errors Errors in which none of the phonemes were spelled correctly were no more
common among the dyslexics (3%) than among the normal children (5%).
Other studies however, have found evidence that children with dyslexia made fewer
phonetic errors than typical children of the same spelling level (Brack, 1988, Olson,
1985). Strong support for this idea comes from the results of a study by Brack and
Treiman (1990) which examined the performance of dyslexics and younger spelling-level
matched children when asked to spell words with consonant clusters. Using a lax
criterion for phonetic legality, the dyslexics produced 36% dysphonetic errors as
compared to 21% for the normal children. Brack and Treiman attributed this difference
to the nature of the classification scheme. In their opinion, dylexics’ spelling errors
followed a primitive level of phonologically-based errors. Although the frequency of
these errors was higher than that made by younger children of the same spelling level, the
errors themselves were qualitatively similar to those of normal younger children

36
Spelling of novel and nonsense words
Since poor readers have a phonological processing deficit, it is logical to assume that
they would have particular difficulty reading and spelling novel and nonsense words.
However, the few studies that have examined this assumption have yielded contradictory
findings. Bruck (1988) scored children’s spellings of nonsense words using a strict
criterion and found no difference in the relative proportion of errors for children with and
without dyslexia Two other studies (Martlew, 1992; Siegel & Ryan, 1988) however
reported significant differences between the spelling performance of dyslexics and
younger normal children matched on either reading or spelling level. From these studies,
it appears that dyslexics’ spelling errors on both real and nonsense words are qualitatively
similar to those of younger normal children. These errors are invariably phonologically-
motivated and reflect an earlier stage of spelling development. Whether children with
dyslexia make more spelling errors than normal younger children will depend on
individual weaknesses and the nature of the spelling words.
Orthographic knowledge
Poor readers appear to have little difficulty learning permissible letter sequences
Nelson (1980), for example, found that 82% of the dyslexics’ spelling errors were
orthographically legal (e g., “cack” as opposed to “chak” for “cake”) compared to 87%
for the normal group. In another study, Siegel, Share and Geva (1995) compared first to
eighth grade readers with dyslexia to groups of normal children matched for reading
level. The children were shown pairs of words such as “moke/moje” and asked to select
the one that most resembled a real word. The poor readers actually did better than the
reading-matched controls. These studies indicate that poor readers’ orthographic
knowledge is at least commensurate with their overall level of reading and spelling and

37
may even exceed the knowledge younger normal children have about orthographic
sequences
Morpholoácal knowledge
Higher-level spelling tasks require knowledge of the morphological structure of the
language and its applications to spelling rules. Thus spellers need to recognize that
variations in pronunciation of related words are not necessarily accompanied by
corresponding changes in spelling. The three words “electrical, electricity, and
electrician” are all spelled with the same letter “c” despite differences in pronunciation.
Very few studies have examined morphological knowledge in poor readers. Carlisle
(1987) compared ninth grade poor readers to fourth graders matched for spelling level
The poor readers performed significantly better than the younger children on an oral test
of derivational morphology, but they had difficulty applying this knowledge to print. For
example, they frequently could spell only one cognate word correctly in a pair like
“magic/magician”.
Bmck (1993) compared dyslexic college students to sixth graders matched for
spelling level. The dyslexic students performed more poorly than the sixth graders on all
the spelling tasks except the ones that tapped morphological knowledge. On these tests,
both groups performed comparably. Findings of the studies done by Carlisle (1987) and
Bruck (1993) suggest that most poor readers, including adult college students with
dyslexia, have difficulty applying morphological knowledge to spelling.
In summary, the research comparing spelling abilities of good and poor readers
matched for reading and/or spelling level indicates more similarities than differences
across the two groups. The spelling errors that poor readers make are definitely not
unusual. The errors classified as dysphonetic are typically phonologically-based and

38
similar to errors made by normal beginning spellers. The only striking difference
between dyslexics and norma! readers is the coexistence of primitive phonologically-
based errors with relatively high levels of orthographic knowledge. This apparent
contradiction resolves itself when one considers that dyslexics core problem lies in an
inability to analyze and manipulate the sounds in a word, hence their difficulty spelling
novel or nonsense words. Impairment in phonological processing does not impede the
development and mastery of permissible letter sequences.
The good-reader poor-speller paradox
Clinical cases have uncovered students who display a marked discrepancy between
reading and spelling performance This group of dyslexics is referred to in the literature
as the “good-reader poor-speller”, or simply the “mixed” group. The leading research
question is whether this mixed group represents a point on a developmental continuum
between good readers/good spellers and poor readers/poor spellers, or whether this group
possesses a distinct learning profile, suggesting a specific disability of developmental
dysgraphia as opposed to developmental dyslexia.
Frith (1980) was probably the first researcher to study the spelling performance of
the good-reader poor speller. In her study, she compared the performance of a group of
adolescent good readers/good spellers (good), good readers/poor spellers (mixed) and
poor readers/poor spellers (poor) on a variety of reading and spelling skills. When
spelling errors were classified as phonetic or nonphonetic, the good and mixed groups
showed a high proportion of phonetic errors, suggesting a basic knowledge of letter-
sound associations. Subjects in the poor group however produced a high proportion of
nonphonetic errors. Frith hypothesized that the good reader/poor speller has mastered the
orthographic strategy in reading but has failed to transfer it to the spelling process. As a

39
result, this group of readers is able to spell regular words but has persistent problems with
irregular words.
Frith’s findings were seriously challenged in a subsequent study by Waters, Brack
and Seidenberg (1985). In this study, 36 third graders were divided into three groups
(good, mixed and poor) based on standardized measures of reading comprehension and
spelling. Contrary to Frith’s findings that good readers/poor spellers have adequate
letter-sound association knowledge, the study by Waters and colleagues suggested that
the mixed group does not possess good knowledge of graphophonemic relationships for
either reading or spelling. The mixed and poor groups produced a smaller proportion of
phonetically accurate errors than did the good group in tasks which included nonwords
and five types of words that differed in terms of their spelling regularity Furthermore,
even though the children in the mixed group had been matched with children in the good
group on both reading comprehension, the number and type of errors made by the mixed
group on both the reading and spelling tasks were more similar to those of the poor group
than those of the good group.
Brack and Waters (1988) further probed the issue of the good reader/poor speller in
a controlled experiment on third and sixth graders who were identified as good, mixed
and poor based on single-word decoding or reading comprehension scores. Both a
constrained and unconstrained scoring system was used to classify the spelling errors.
When the unconstrained scoring system was used, the mixed group was comparable to
the poor group in that both exhibited proportionately fewer phonetic misspellings than the
children in the good group. Another consistent finding was that the mixed group was
identified with deficits in at least one area of reading, either word recognition or
comprehension. Brack and Waters concluded that the mixed group represents a point in

40
the continuum of sound-spelling correspondence knowledge Distinctions between the
good, mixed and poor groups can be made only at finer levels of sound-letter association
knowledge.
In summary, spelling is a language-based skill with phonological processing
knowledge forming the foundation for efficient spelling performance. Poor spelling
skills can be undeniably attributed to deficits in some aspect of phonological processing.
Individual differences in spelling ability are primarily caused by fine distinctions in the
knowledge and use of sound-letter information.
Implications of Socioeconomic Status on Literacy
Socioeconomic differences are conventionally indexed by demographic variables
such as household income and parents’ education and occupation, either alone or in some
weighted combination. In educational studies, the socioeconomic status (SES) of a
school or a community may also be estimated by the percentage of the enrolment
qualifying for federal lunch subsidies. Demographic data consistently suggest that
children from poor families are exposed to a broad array of conditions which in
themselves may be highly detrimental to the health, safety and cognitive development of
a young child. When combined, these conditions are likely to serve as strong risk factors
for reading difficulties (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 1995). No known
published work has specifically examined the effects of a low SES on spelling
achievement. It is nevertheless hypothesized that the spelling skills of children coming
from a poor economic background will be depressed, especially if their reading skills are
poor (Snow, Bums, & Griffin, 1998).
Differences in literacy achievement among children as a result of SES have been
documented in several large scale studies (Stubbs, 1980; White, 1982; Baker, Serpell, &

41
Sonnenschein, 1995; Hart & Risley, 1995). Stubbs (1980) found that 7.5% of children
coming from a high SES were poor readers compared to 26 9% of the children coming
from a low SES. Snow, Bums, and Griffin (1998) suggest that SES differences in
reading achievement are actually a result of differences in the quality of schooling since
lower SES children tend to receive poorer educational opportunities. A recent study by
Alexander and Entwisle (1996) appears to demonstrate that low and high SES children in
elementary grades exhibit a virtually identical rate of progress. However, it is during
non-school time that low SES children fall academically behind their higher SES peers
and get progressively further behind. White (1982) discovered that, at the individual
level, SES is related to achievement only very modestly. However, at the aggregate
level, when achievement was measured as a school or community characteristic, the
effects of SES are much more pronounced. A low SES child attending a generally
moderate SES school is far less at risk than an entire school of low SES children. Baker
and colleagues (1995) compared opportunities for informal literacy learning among
preschoolers in the homes of middle-income and low-income families. They found that
children from middle-income homes had greater opportunities for informal literacy
learning (such as visits to the local library, joint book reading, play activities with print)
than children of low-income homes. Low-income parents however, reported more
reading skills practice, such as the use of flash cards and help with homework, with their
kindergarten-age children than did middle-income families. Baker and colleagues’
findings that low-income homes typically offer some opportunities for literacy practice,
though perhaps of a different nature from middle-class families, have been documented
in several ethnographic studies (Gadsden, 1994; Goldenberg, Reese, & Gallimore, 1992).

Although families from lower SES appear to provide their children with some
language and literacy promoting experiences, it is unclear if the nature and quality of
these experiences are adequate and effective. Hart and Risley (1995) studied 42 families
selected to represent the range of American families by race and SES. They gathered
data from monthly observations during unstructured parent-child interactions in the home
over a period of two years Data collection began when each child was under one year of
age and not yet talking and continued until each child reached 3 years of age. The
parents’ SES ranged from uneducated and economically disadvantaged to having
advanced degrees and upper income levels. Findings showed substantia! variation across
the families with regard to the amount of time spent parenting, the parents’ social
interaction with their children, and the content of the language parents addressed to their
children. The most striking finding was the large variability in the quantity of verba!
interaction across these families, and its strong correlation with SES, rate of vocabulary
growth and IQ. In a follow-up study of a few of the low SES children, the cumulative
impact of poor vocabulary growth was strongly linked to poor school performance
through third grade. Hart and Risley hypothesized that since vocabulary is associated
with reading outcomes, it seems likely that reduced opportunities for verbal interaction
would function as a potential risk factor.
The association of poor reading and spelling outcomes with poverty is not clearly
defined and reflects the accumulated effects of several risk factors, including lack of
access to literacy stimulating preschool experiences and to effective, coherent reading
instruction. Children who are likely to have difficulty with learning to read and spell in
the primary grades are those who begin school with less prior knowledge and skill in
relevant domains, most notably overall verba! abilities, phonological awareness, letter

43
knowledge and familiarity with reading and spelling scripts. Children from poor
neighborhoods are particularly at risk of entering school with weaknesses in these areas
and hence of falling behind from the onset.
With the advent of modem technology, there has been a growing interest in the
relationship between brain anatomy, reading disability and the contribution of
environmental factors such as SES. A longitudinal study by Eckert (1998) examined
reading readiness as a function of family and environmental variables in conjunction with
brain anatomy. Findings indicated that variation in brain anatomy and SES uniquely
predicted the distribution of verbal and phonological aptitude in a group representative of
the general population. Children who had an atypical anatomical pattern on the phoneme
processing area of the temporal cortex (i.e., they had reversed planar asymmetry) and
came from a low SES background were at greatest risk for reading impairment in fifth
grade.
Measures of Spelling Assessment
There are several commercially available tests for the assessment of English
spelling. The most commonly used ones are the Wide Range Achievement Test-3
(WRAT-3) by Jastak and Wilkinson (1993), the Test of Written Spelling-2 (TWS-2) by
Larsen and Hammill (1986) and the Boder Test of Reading-Spelling Patterns (Boder &
Jarrico, 1982). Subtests of spelling are also included in the Kaufman Test of Educational
Achievement (Kaufman & Kaufman, 1985) and the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of
Achievement-Revised (Woodcock & Johnson, 1989). All these tests are standardized
and meet the minimum psychometric criteria. In addition to these standardized spelling
tests, experimental procedures for the assessment of spelling skills can be found imthe
research literature, and informal reading/spelling criterion-referenced inventories are

commercially available. These include the Qualitative Inventory of Word Knowledge
(Henderson, 1990; Schlagal, 1992), the spelling subtest of the Early Reading Screening
Inventory (ERSI) (Morris, 1992) and Mann, Tobin and Wilson’s qualitative 5-point
scoring system (1987). This section briefly describes these tests, highlighting their major
strengths and weaknesses.
Standardized tests of spelling assessment
The WRAT-3 and the TWS-2 are the two most widely used standardized measures
of spelling assessment. The WRAT-3 is divided into two levels of difficulty based on the
phonetic transparency and orthographic pattern of the target word. The number of words
tested is determined by a method of ceiling to avoid examinee frustration. A major
criticism against this test is the fact that it does not sample the domain of spelling
adequately. No theoretical rationale is provided for the choice of vocabulary. For
instance, the WRAT-3 contains only predictable and variant-predictable words like abuse
and very few words with consonant blends, digraphs, and diphthongs. Words with
inflected endings, contractions, plurals, or homonyms are not tested The TWS-2 is
divided into two groups of words, “predictable” words and “unpredictable” words
determined by the computer analysis of the Hanna et al. study (1966). Such a grouping
of spelling patterns is said to add content validity to the test. However, as illustrated in
previous sections, a dichotomous classification of words into “predictable/unpredictable”
spelling patterns is oversimplistic and misrepresents the complexity involved in spelling
acquisition. As pointed out by Moats (1994), the inclusion of words such as ves, much,
she in the “unpredictable” list is puzzling. Furthermore, complex linguistic structures
such as variant inflections are notably absent from both lists A final but equally
important objection to the use of two distinct word lists is the assumption that each set of

45
words measures independent spelling abilities. In fact, the high correlation value
between the two lists implies that differences in performance on the two lists characterize
subtypes of spelling disability. No solid evidence exists to show that children with
phonological processing deficits do poorly on one or the other type of spelling words
(Stuart & Masterson, 1992).
The Boder Test of Reading-Spelling Patterns (Boder & Jarricho, 1982) is a novel
attempt to identify three subtypes of reading disability. The “dysphonetic” readers have
deficits in areas of phonological decoding. The “dyseidetic” readers have difficulty with
recall of auditory-visual information The “mixed dysphonetic-dyseidetic” readers
apparently exhibit a combination of phonological decoding and auditory-visual memory
deficits. A key feature of the test involves scoring the percentage of predictable and
unpredictable unknown words on the reading test spelled as good phonetic equivalents.
Test reliability is seriously affected on two accounts. First, determining good phonetic
equivalence poses a major problem. Second, each child takes a different test as
determined by the results of the reading test.
The Kaufman (1985) and the Woodcock-Johnson (1989) tests cover a relatively
broad domain of spelling in the form of word dictation lists. Although the Kaufman test
provides a format for error analysis of prefixes, suffixes, syllable patterns, and vowel
spellings, neither test has sufficient items to measure fine increments in the spelling skills
of kindergartners or first graders.
Experimental tests of spelling development
The Qualitative Inventory of Word Knowledge (Henderson, 1990; Schlagal, 1992) is
a useful too! for determining a child’s instructional level for spelling. The inventory
consists of six word lists drawn from a larger pool of words used to construct basal

46
spelling books for each grade level The words in each list represent both the underlying
structural order in the orthography and the developmental progression of children’s
concepts about print The beginning levels include high frequency Anglo-Saxon words
(eg., girl, wan!) while higher levels contain words of Latin and Greek origin which
embody complex relationships between sound, meaning and spelling patterns (e g.,
television, acknowledge, patient) As a general guideline, 90% accuracy on a list
constitutes independent functioning at that level; 50-89% constitutes instructional level
functioning and scores below 49% constitute frustration level functioning.
Scoring systems designed to be sensitive to developmental changes in early spelling
have been presented by several researchers (Lombardino, Bedford, Fortier, Carter &
Brandi, 1997; Mann, Tobin & Wilson, 1987). Mann and colleagues (1987) selected
words that would elicit preconventional phonetic spellings The stimuli included the
presence of letter names, short vowels, nasals before stops, liquids, consonant digraphs,
and diphthongs. Scoring was based on quality points assigned according to the
progressive improvements children were expected to make on the basis of developmental
theory. A measure of this type given at the end of kindergarten proves to be a strong
predictor of reading ability at the end of first grade (T angel & Blachman, 1995).
The spelling subtest of the ERSI (Morris, 1992) is sensitive to changes in the
spelling patterns of kindergarten children and is a strong predictor of reading skills in first
grade (Lombardino, Morris, Mercado, DeFillipo, Sarisky, & Montgomery, 1999). The
spelling subtest consists of twelve words that probe a child’s ability to represent
consonant and vowel digraphs (chin, back, road, mail), consonant clusters (dress, step,
lamp), short vowels (back, dress), and inflections (picking, peeked). The words were
written upon dictation, and the subtest received a point-score (maximum points of 42)

47
based on the accuracy and order of graphemes. Lombardino and colleagues (1997)
modified Morris’ scoring system and assigned one point to every sound correctly
represented in spelling. In addition, a qualitative error analysis scheme was proposed. In
this scheme, a spelling pattern was identified for a phonetic unit. In other words, the
scheme examined how a sound, represented in conventional orthography by either one
letter or a group of letters, was spelled by kindergartners. The inflectional endings -ed
and -dig were also treated as one sound To illustrate, the consonant digraph ck in back
constituted a potential error of consonant digraph reduction, the vowel digraphs in road,
mad, fed, constituted a potential error of vowel digraph reduction. A total of ten spelling
error patterns were identified, and based on the response types of 100 kindergartners, a
rank ordering of the most frequently occurring spelling errors was established A child’s
performance on the ERSI spelling subtest can be analyzed using this scheme and findings
may be compared (although with caution since the ERSI norms are standardized on a
regional sample) to identify prevalent patterns of spelling errors. A second-generation
study, using the same ERSI spelling data (Ahmed & Lombardino, 2000), classified
spelling errors as types of phonological processes such as omission of prevocalic
consonant cluster and substitution of vowel digraph by letter-name or analogy to another
word. Such a classification scheme aims to see if a relationship exists between a
beginning speller’s phonemic awareness and knowledge of conventional orthographic
rules. The scheme also brings to the surface the strategies young spellers use to
compensate for their lack of knowledge for conventional spellings. The scheme has been
applied to three spelling levels within kindergarten and typical patterns of spelling errors
have been identified for each level. The assessment was developed to help clinicians
identify kindergartener’s level of spelling skills and characterize that child’s strengths

48
and weaknesses in terras of his abilities to translate a perceived sound into its graphemic
representation.
Statement of the Problem
The Need for this Research
The complexity of English orthography is underscored by the fact that many
children and adults with normal intelligence and above average educational backgrounds
never reach mastery level in formal spelling tasks Confusions between conventional
sequences of letters, such as or , often worry the most competent of spellers and
are not always resolved by modern Spell Check computer aids The review of the
literature presented in preceding sections of this chapter emphasizes the fact that spelling
is a language-based skill with phonological processing at its core. In addition, studies on
children’s earliest attempts at spelling indicate developmental trends that parallel many
developmental language domains, especially the acquisition of phonology.
With the current mandate by many educators to teach children spelling as a logical
and organized language-based skill, there is a growing demand for graded instructional
material. Such instructional material needs to be based on developmental spelling
patterns that integrate phonological and orthographic components of spelling.
Consequently, there is an urgent need to focus spelling research on the normal processes
inherent in the acquisition of spelling during the elementary school grades.
Reading disabilities, known to affect at least one out of every five children in the
U S. (Livesay, 1995), necessarily imply a deficit in spelling skills. The earlier a child is
identified with reading and spelling difficulties, the more promising is a positive
prognosis resulting from intervention. Several spelling assessment tools are available but
none seem to capture the structural and developmental features of English spelling in an

49
integrated fashion. The development of such an assessment tool could facilitate the early
identification of children at risk for spelling deficits and provide a developmental
structure for remedial intervention.
The present study is intended to be a step toward identifying developmental spelling
patterns in second through fifth grade children. The findings of the study will provide a
developmental knowledge base for the recognition of spelling patterns in elementary
grade children. This knowledge base is hoped to provide evidence on the process and
acquisition of spelling in children. The development of spelling patterns will indicate
whether children learn via two distinct routes of knowledge, as proposed by the dual¬
route model of spelling acquisition (Frith, 1980a), or children exhibit the gradual
development of connections between the two routes at an early stage, as suggested by the
amalgamation theory of spelling acquisition (Ehri, 1992b). Using this qualitative and
quantitative knowledge base, teachers and clinicians can adopt a procedure validated by
research to identify children with deficits in spelling knowledge.
A second equally important purpose of the present study is to design a tool for the
screening/ assessment of spelling abilities in children. A good tool satisfies at least two
basic conditions of design, homogeneity or representativeness of the standardization
sample and construct validity (McCauley & Swisher, 1984). The standardization process
involves administering the tool to a relatively large sample of subjects who are
representative of the population to be assessed, for example, elementary grade children
who exhibit poor spelling skills. If all subjects in the standardization sample, or subsets
of subjects divided into groups of interest such as grade, behave similarly on the tool, the
sample is considered to be homogeneous. Construct validity ensures that the tool
measures the theoretical construct it was designed to measure (Schiavetti & Metz, 1997).

50
Assuming that the theoretical construct itself is sound, the validity of a tool can be
assessed by testing for consistency of findings across at least two independent data
samples The design of the present study accounts for homogeneity of the
standardization sample and construct validity by comparing results when the tool is
administered to two randomly selected and independent samples of subjects.
Experimental Questions
The following six experimental questions were addressed in this study:
1. Do children in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5 respectively and assigned to either a data
exploration set or a hypothesis testing data set exhibit similar patterns of
performance on an experimental spelling recognition test designed to assess
phonemic and orthographic knowledge?
2. Does spelling recognition performance show similar patterns of improvement
from 2nd to 5'h grades in both the data exploration set and the hypothesis testing
data set?
3.Are there similar between-grade differences in the performance of the three
spelling patterns tested in the data exploration set and the hypothesis testing data
set respectively:
a. words involving phonemic awareness skills only, e g., “warn” which tests
the short vowel occurring in a closed monosyllable,
b. words involving orthographic rule knowledge only, e g., “neff” which
tests the doubling of the final letter when it occurs in a closed
monosyllabic word and is preceded by a lax vowel, and
c. words involving a combination of phonemic and orthographic rule
knowledge, e.g., “franceive” which tests the ability to discriminate and
encode a word initial consonant cluster as well as the orthographic rule of
spelling the long vowel in the sequence rather than when it
follows the letter ?
4. Are there similar within-grade differences in performance on the three spelling
patterns in the data exploration set and the hypothesis testing data set?
5. Are there similar distributions of error types at each grade level for the data
exploration set and the hypothesis testing data set?

5]
6. Does SES (socio-economic status, as determined by lunch status) have a similar
effect on children’s performance on the experimental spelling recognition test in
both the data exploration set and the hypothesis testing data set?
7. Do developmental spelling patterns and individual profiles of poor spellers,
identified by performance on the ESRT, provide evidence in support of the dual¬
route model or the amalgamation theory of spelling acquisition?

CHAPTER 2
METHODOLOGY
The purpose of this study was to investigate patterns of normal spelling acquisition
in American English. Data collected from this study were used to answer questions about
the role of phonemic awareness and orthographic rule knowledge in the acquisition of
spelling. This chapter includes information on the subjects, design of the test,
experimental stimuli, administration of the test, scoring, and analysis procedures.
Subjects
Six schools in Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida, participated in this study. Four
of the participating schools were elementary public schools, one school was a private
Catholic school and one school was an experimental laboratory affiliated with the
University of Florida.
A total of 392 children from grades 2, 3, 4, and 5 participated in this study. The
distribution of subjects by grade and SES is shown below in Table 2-1. A subject’s SES
was determined solely by lunch status.
Prior to testing any subject, Human Subjects approval was obtained from the
University of Florida IRB. Informed parental consent forms were sent home with each
student in every class. Small token gifts, such as fancy pencils, erasers, stickers, were
given to each child as a reinforcement for taking the parental consent form home,
showing it to the parents, having it signed, and returning it to the class teacher. Only
52

53
those students who returned signed permission forms were allowed to participate in the
study. Before administering the test, a Group Child Assent Form was read aloud and
only those children who still wished to participate were included in the study. The
Informed Parental Consent and the Group Child Assent forms are reproduced in
Appendix A
Table 2-1. Distribution of Subjects by Grade and SES.
No of Subjects
% of Subjects on Free or
Reduced Lunch
Grade 2
82
29%
Grade 3
139
30%
Grade 4
91
35%
Grade 5
80
37%
Design of the Spelling Test
An experimental spelling test, referred to as the Early Spelling Recognition Test
(ESRT), was designed to evaluate the phonemic awareness skills and orthographic rule
knowledge American English-speaking children possess in elementary school grades.
The underlying concepts of ESRT were adopted from two experimental spelling
recognition tasks, Olson and colleagues’ Orthographic Choice task (1989) and Stanovich
and Siegel’s Word Likeness task (1994) The Orthographic Choice task extends beyond
phonological decoding skills and assesses knowledge of word specific spellings The
task consists of 25 triads of printed stimuli which are all phonologically similar, but
orthographicaliy dissimilar. The examiner reads aloud the chosen word and uses it in a
sentence, while the child being tested is asked to circle the correct word from a choice of
three written items For example, the child is presented with the choices “tite, tight, tait”

54
in response to the examiner’s question: “tight; these shoes are too tight on my feet.” The
Word Likeness task by Stanovich and Siegel (1994) comprises of 24 pairs of nonsense
words presented in written form on a sheet of paper. The child being tested is asked to
circle the item that looks most like a real word The logic behind this task is that children
have to phonologically decode a novel word then select the one that conforms best to
conventions of the English orthographic spelling system
One form of the ESRT was designed and the same test was given to children in
grades two through five to enable parallel comparisons of achievement. Nonwords that
conformed to standard rules of English pronunciation were selected as test items to
reduce the effect of reading and spelling familiarity that could result from using real
words.
A preliminary version of the spelling test was given to a group of graduate SLP
students in order to elicit their comments with regard to the appropriateness of the non¬
words. Comments were studied and amendments were made to eliminate confusions
with the irregular spelling of common words. For example, the nonword “ness,” which
targets the floss rule (doubling of final ), was replaced with “neff” since the former
was associated with the spelling of the very frequently used word “yes” rather than
“dress.” The revised version of the spelling test was informally administered to a small
group of children from grades 2, 3, 4, and 5. None of the children exhibited any
frustration over the length and nature of the test. Total raw scores suggested an increase
in the number of correct answers as grade level increased.
Experimental Stimuli
The spelling test consists of 35 nonwords, 19 monosyllabic words such as “chint”,
and 16 bisyllabic words such as “bolene”. All words occur as single items in isolation

55
In cases where a morpho-phonemic orthographic rule was tested, e g., a variant to the
plural -s, the test item was presented in an appropriate context. For example, item #23
targets the spelling of the plural variant when preceded by the sibilant ; this item
was presented in the context: ‘Teaches - I have one feach, you have two feaches”.
The test items represent three types of spelling patterns:
1)Phonemic patterns only (PA-Only). This pattern describes nonword stimuli that
requires phonemic knowledge only, as in the test item “warn” which targets the
spelling of the short vowel /a/ in a closed syllable;
2)Orthographic patterns only (Ortho-Only) This pattern describes nonword stimuli
that requires orthographic rule knowledge as in the test item “pindle” which
targets the spelling of vocalic /!/;
3)Combined phonemic and orthographic patterns (PA + Ortho). This pattern
describes a nonword stimuli that requires both phonemic and orthographic rule
knowledge as in the test item “quinch” which targets the spelling of the sound
/kw/ and the versus rule.
Of the 35 test items, 10 stimuli represented the PA-Only spelling pattern, 12
represented the Ortho-Only spelling pattern, and 13 represented the PA + Ortho spelling
pattern The selection of spelling targets was based on findings reported in published
literature (Moats, 1994) as well as clinical reading/spelling protocols for targeting regular
and irregular sound-letter associations In Table 2-2 below, the 35 test items are
classified into one of the three spelling patterns. For each test item, the target sound
and/or rule is described
The spelling test is presented in a multiple-choice format (cf. Appendix B for a copy
of the complete test). Four options, consisting of one correct answer and three foils, are
given (cf. Table 2-3 for a sample of the test format). While the first four test items are
relatively simple to spell, that is, they target the short vowels
and in

Table 2-2. Classification of Test Items by Spelling Pattern.
56
Test Item
Spelling Pattern
Description
Warn
PA Only
Short vowel
in closed
syllable
Ling
PA Only
Short vowel in closed
syllable; -ng# blend
Neff
PA + Ortho
Short vowel in closed
syllable; doubled #
Chint
PA Only
digraph; -nt# blend
Yuntrude
PA + Ortho
Short vowel in closed
syllable; VC-e lengthening
rule
Zuleps
PA Only
Long vowel in open
syllable; -ps# blend
Bimolt
PA Only
Long vowel in open
syllable; -It# blend
Snate
PA + Ortho
#sn- blend; VC-e
lengthening rule
Bolene
Ortho
VC-e lengthening rule
Glouch
PA Only
-> /au/ diphthong
Prath
PA Only
Citation
The development of phonemic and orthographic spelling patterns

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The development of phonemic and orthographic spelling patterns a method for assessing spelling knowledge in children in grades two through five
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Orthographies ( jstor )
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Phonetics ( jstor )
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Spelling ( jstor )
Typographical errors ( jstor )
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 141-154).
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THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHONEMIC AND ORTHOGRAPHIC SPELLING
PATTERNS: A METHOD FOR ASSESSING SPELLING KNOWLEDGE
IN CHILDREN IN GRADES TWO THROUGH FIVE














By

SARAH T. AHMED


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA












ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


Special acknowledgment is given to Dr. Linda Lombardino, who served as my

supervisory committee chair on this dissertation. Dr. Lombardino provided me with

constant support and encouragement throughout my four years as a graduate student at

the University of Florida. An outstanding mentor, she initiated me into the mysterious

realm of learning and research. I hope that, in the years to come, she will remember me

with joy and pride.

I would also like to acknowledge the other members of my supervisory committee--

Dr. Patricia Kricos, Dr. Geralyn Schulz, Dr. Bill Williams, and Dr. Christiana Leonard-

for their support and invaluable guidance at every step of my studies.

Special thanks are extended to the staff and students at St. Patrick's Interparish

School, P. K. Yonge Laboratory School, Glen Springs Elementary School, Metcalfe

Elementary School, Rawlings Elementary School, and Prairie View Elementary School.

This study would never have materialized without their cooperation and willingness to

participate.

I would like to extend thanks to all my colleagues and friends, living near and far,

for their words and deeds of love and kindness throughout my years in Gainesville.

Last, but not least, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to my parents, my three

siblings and their families for their prayers and unswerving trust in me. May God, The

Merciful, The Compassionate, reward them with everlasting happiness!















TABLE OF CONTENTS






ACKNOW LEDGMENTS .................................. ......................... ................................... ii

ABSTRACT.......................................................................... ...... vi

CHAPTERS

1. INTRODUCTION AND REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE..................................1

Introduction................................... ....................................................................... 1
Review of the Literature................................................................ ...................... 3
The Structure of English Orthography........................... .........................3...
Spelling Acquisition....................................................... .........................9...
Theories on the Process of Spelling............................................................. 17
Phonological Processing as the Foundation for Learning to Spell..............22
Schemes for Spelling Analysis........................... ... ......................... 26
Dyslexia and Spelling................................................... ......................... 33
Implications of Socioeconomic Status on Literacy.................................. 40
M measures of Spelling Assessment................................... ....................... 43
Statement of the Problem................... ...................................................... 48
The Need for this Research............................................... ..................... 48
Experimental Questions................................................. ........................ 50


2 M ETHODOLOGY................................................. ........................................... 52

Subjects............................................................................... .......................52
Design of the Spelling Test.............. ........... .. ........................ 53
Experimental Stimuli............................................................. ............................ 54
Procedure......................................................... ................................................. 57
Scoring................................................................................. .......................... 59
Data Reduction and Statistical Analysis..................................... ........................ 59


iii








Testing for Homogeneity of Samples ..................................................... 60
Testing for Normality of Test Score Distribution....................................61
3 R E SU L T S ..................................................................................... ....................... 68

D ata E xploration................................................... ...................... ....................... 68
Grade Performance on the ESRT...........................................................69
Spelling Performance across Grades.........................................................70
Between-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns..............73
Within-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns.................76
Most Frequently Occurring Spelling Errors Between and Within
G rades on the ESRT................................................ ............................77
Effect of SES on Spelling Performance....................................................80
Hypothesis Derived from Exploration Data..............................................83
Hypothesis Testing D ata............................................................ ........................ 84
Grade Performance on the Spelling Recognition Test.............................84
Spelling Performance across Grades.........................................................86
Between-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns..............88
Within-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns .................92
Most Frequently Occurring Spelling Errors Between and Within
Grades................... ............................................93
Effect of SES on Spelling Performance................................................96
Sum m ary of Results.............................................................................................. 99
Com bined Data Sets ...................... .. ....................... ......................... 100
Standardized ESRT Scores....................................................................... 100
Individual Profiles of Spelling Performance across Grades....................101

4 D ISC U SSIO N ..................................................... ............................................. 107

Developmental Spelling Performance across Grades........................................ 108
Between-Grade Performance on Spelling Patterns............................................... 11
Within-Grade Performance on Spelling Patterns................................................115
Quantitative and Qualitative Evidence for the Amalgamation Theory..... 116
Individual Spelling Profiles and their Relationship to the
Amalgamation Theory.................................... 119
D design of the ESRT....................... ............................................................ 120
Clinical Applications of the ESRT....................................... ............................125
Strengths and Lim itations................ ....................................................... 127
Strengths.................. ......................................127
Lim itations................................ ......................................................... 128
Directions for Further Research..................................................................129
Summary and Conclusions...............................................................................130

A PPEN D IC E S........................................................... ............................... ................... 132










A PARENTAL INFORMED CONSENT FORM AND GROUP CHILD
ASSENT FORM .................. ............................................................. 132

B EARLY SPELLING RECOGNITION TEST / EXAMINER'S FORM............... 135

C EARLY SPELLING RECOGNITION TEST / ANSWER FORM.....................138

R E FER EN C E S.......................................................... .................................................. 14 1

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.................................................................................. 55














Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHONEMIC AND ORTHOGRAPHIC SPELLING
PATTERNS: A METHOD FOR ASSESSING SPELLING KNOWLEDGE
IN CHILDREN IN GRADES TWO THROUGH FIVE

By

Sarah T. Ahmed

May 2000

Chair: Linda J. Lombardino
Major Department: Communication Sciences and Disorders

American English spelling is a complex process that involves integration of letter-

sound associations with morpho-phonemic and orthographic rule conventions. Current

theories on spelling acquisition propose that children initially rely on salient phonological

cues when writing a word. With exposure to print and formal instruction, children

systematically begin to incorporate rules of phonemic awareness and orthographic

knowledge into the spelling process. The development of spelling skills is of interest to

many professionals. The classroom teacher is interested in providing students with the

most beneficial learning environment. The speech-language pathologist is interested in

early identification of children at risk for spelling difficulties and the delivery of effective

intervention.

The purpose of this study was to examine the development of phonemic and

orthographic spelling patterns in U.S. elementary school grades. The Early Spelling








Recognition Test (ESRT) was designed and administered to 390 children in grades 2

through 5. The ESRT consists of 35 mono- and bisyllabic nonwords and targets three

spelling patterns, phonemic decoding only (PA-Only), orthographic rule knowledge only

(Ortho-Only) and a combination of phonemic decoding and orthographic rule knowledge

in the same word (PA + Ortho).

The results of the study revealed clear developmental trends in all three spelling

patterns across the four grades. Spelling performance was examined in two independent

samples and results indicated similar behavior trends. A statistically significant

difference in spelling performance was noted between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5,

grades 3 and 4, and grades 3 and 5. Within each grade, a significant difference in

performance was noted between the PA-Only and the Ortho-Only spelling patterns and

the PA-Only and the PA + Ortho patterns. In support of the amalgamation theory of

spelling acquisition, children exhibited the ability to integrate phonemic and orthographic

rule knowledge as early as in grade 2, with systematic development of the concepts in the

next three grades. Of the three spelling patterns assessed, words requiring orthographic

rule knowledge were the most difficult, with spelling ofmorpho-phonemic variations

(e.g., the suffixes -s and -ed in different linguistic contexts) representing the highest

percentage of errors in all four grades.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION AND REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Introduction


English spelling is a complex process and continues to pose problems even to the

average literate adult. According to the Wide Range Achievement Test-3 (WRAT-3)

normative tables (Jastak and Wilkinson, 1993), the average adult with a high school

education spells at the eighth grade level. Individuals with language-related learning

disabilities make even less progress with spelling despite the advantages of an

appropriate education, average to high IQ, and high socioeconomic status (Moats, 1995).

Several explanations have been suggested to justify the complexity inherent in the

process of spelling. First, English spelling, which requires mapping a phoneme (sound)

onto a conventional grapheme (letter or group of letters), is complicated by the fact that

there are approximately 70 graphemes relative to only 40 phonemes. This means that the

same sound can be represented by more than one letter combination. Second, the

structure of English spelling is influenced by phonological, morphological, syntactic and

semantic factors. It is one's knowledge of the language that allows the speller to

associate words from the same semantic family (e.g., magic, magical, and magician), or

to unravel the spelling mystery of homophones such as 'their, there, and they're.'

Current theories on spelling acquisition propose that children initially rely on

phonological cues when spelling words. Then, very quickly, they incorporate both

phonological awareness and orthographic knowledge into the spelling process when
I








exposed to print and formal instruction. As a result, familiar words are spelled from

memory and semantic association while new words are encoded by phonological

analysis.

For a long time, research and pedagogic communities viewed spelling as a visual

process of rote memorization. Poor spellers were invariably labeled as lazy or

incompetent, and struggled with spelling failure throughout their lives. Attitudes

changed only recently with the discovery that spelling is a language-based process and

difficulties with spelling result in many instances from a core deficit in phonological

awareness. With this paradigm for studying spelling, research has focused on the process

of spelling acquisition in young children, its relationship to dimensions of language

development, and the oral and written language characteristics of individuals with a

spelling disability. The integrity of spelling instruction techniques and spelling

assessment tasks has been investigated in the light of spelling as a language-based

process. Contrary to expectations, learning to spell is a challenging task for the student.

Equally challenging for the researcher in spelling is the goal to understand the process of

spelling, the reasons some students face difficulties in learning to spell, and the

development of reliable and sensitive assessment and instructional techniques.

The purpose of this study was to examine developmental spelling trends across

elementary grades 2, 3, 4, and 5. A secondary goal of the study was to develop a quick,

yet comprehensive spelling assessment procedure that will help to identify children with

significant problems in spelling and to provide direction for appropriate intervention

goals. The following review examines spelling as a language-based process, how its

structure lends to the complexity of English spelling, how children normally acquire and

master spelling skills, and, finally, what characteristics serve to discriminate good and








poor spellers. A review of existing assessment tools will serve to highlight the need for

clinically reliable spelling assessment and therapy techniques.

Review of the Literature

The Structure of English Orthography

Orthography is the writing, or spelling, system of a language. More specifically, it

describes both the implicit and explicit rules a language employs to establish sound-to-

letter correspondences and their interplay with different syllable patterns. The English

writing system is based on an alphabetic code in which each letter of the alphabet

represents a speech sound. In theory, such an alphabetic writing system models a "bi-

unique" relationship so that a given letter corresponds to one and only one sound

(Carney, 1994). Furthermore, this sound is not symbolized by any other letter.

Unfortunately, the English spelling system fails to comply with this simple theoretical

construct. We are all well aware, from our daily writing experiences, that one letter may

represent different sounds as illustrated by the following set of words: (a) gate -4 /gent/,

(b) gender -4 /d,3ndr&/, and (c) beige -) /beI3/. The letter symbolizes the three

sounds /g/, /dz/ and /3 /, respectively. Conversely, one sound may be represented by

different letters. For example, the sound /fl is written with the letter in "fish,"

in "photo," and in "laughter."

A major issue in any study on the structure of English orthography concerns the

extent to which the system is regular and predictable. Since the era of spelling reforms

which first took impetus in the 1I 7 century, the English orthographic system has been

notoriously criticized for its unpredictable inconsistencies (Follick, 1965; Sampson,

1985; Upward, 1988). Concerns for a unified English orthography eventually reached








such a peak that the eminent British playwright and critic, G. B. Shaw, bequeathed part of

his fortune to the cause of spelling reform (Balmuth, 1982)! However, serious research

into the nature of the English spelling system did not begin until the 1960s with

educators' attempts to revise and modernize curricula for reading and spelling instruction

in the public schools. Research was largely influenced by the foundations of

transformational generative linguistics. English orthography was consequently viewed as

a layered structure with deep and surface representations. The components of spoken

language, that is phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics, were

recruited to explain the irregularities found in spelling forms.

Current literature describes English orthography as a structured and predictable

system in which spellings for phonemes, syllables, and morphemes are determined by the

three major factors of (1) rule-governed sound-to-letter correspondences (Hanna, Hanna,

Hodges, & Rudorf, 1966; Hanna, Hodges, & Hanna, 1971; Venezky, 1970), (2) morpho-

phonemic rules (Carney, 1994; Chomsky & Halle, 1968; Moats & Smith, 1992), and (3)

word semantics (Chomsky, 1970; Henry, 1988). A fourth factor, etymology (also known

as the study of word origins), contributes to some extent towards an understanding of

contemporary American and British English spelling patterns (Henry, 1988).

Sound-letter correspondences

According to a computer analysis on the predictability of English spellings by

Hanna and colleagues (1966), almost one half of the words in English can be spelled

accurately on the basis of sound-to-letter correspondences, while another 37% can be

spelled with one error. The computer analysis also accounted for the fact that many

spelling structures are governed by contextual phonetic constraints. As an example, a

vowel letter such as represents either a long or a short vowel depending on the








syllabic structure in which it occurs. Thus, the letter
corresponds to the long vowel

/el/ in the initial open syllable of the word "table," but the short vowel /1/ in the closed

syllable "crab." Such rules, which predict text-to-sound forms, are termed orthographic

rules. Venezky (1970), and more recently, Carney (1994, 1997) performed an in-depth

analysis of text-to-speech correspondences and organized their findings into sets of rules.

A subset of orthographic rules, referred to as "graphotactic rules" (Carney, 1997), serves

to restrict possible letter sequences. For example, words ending in take a final

as in "have, love, move." Also, the letter is always accompanied by a , as in

"queen, quantity." Another subset of orthographic rules, known as "reference rules",

determines spelling variants within a context. For example, the long vowel liV is spelled

, as in "field," except after the letter where it is spelled , as in "receive."

These reference rules, when applied to underlying forms, can predict the spellings of both

vowel alternations found in word pairs like "divine divinity" and consonant variations

as in "sign signature."

Morpho-phonemic rules

A large part of the English vocabulary is derived from morphological rules applied

to root or stem words. The spelling of these derived words is determined largely by

morphological transformations that are applied to a common root or stem. In this way, the

words "please, pleases, pleased, pleasant, pleasurable, displeasing" all belong to the same

family of the stem word "to please"; they all exhibit a common underlying spelling

structure despite variant phonetic representations.

Morphological rules allow the derivation of related words by combining suffixes and

prefixes to roots and stems. Spelling structure and pronunciation are in synchrony when

neutral suffixes such as "-ible" or "-y" are affixed to a stem (e.g., "visible, wisely") since








the stress pattern and the vowel quality of the derived word remains unchanged (Tyler

and Nagy, 1987). Many suffixes, however, are non-neutral because they entail a shift in

the pronunciation of the base word even though the spelling of both base and derived

words remains the same. Such an influence of morphology on spelling is well illustrated

by the phonetic variations of the suffix "-s" which marks either the plural or the 3"

person singular present tense. Depending on the phonetic context of the stem, the suffix

is pronounced as /s/ (e.g., "books, likes"), or /z/ (e.g., "pens, buys") although its spelling

remains consistent. Other examples include variations in vowel quality, as in the word

pair "anxious anxiety." The morpho-phonemic structure of English orthography

consequently often presents a dilemna for spelling (Chomsky, 1970). Although a

consistent spelling of the roots of the words such as "medical, medicine, medicinal" may

be an advantage for reading, it is clearly a disadvantage for spelling. If the speller had no

knowledge of the root, the sounds in the derived words would be ambiguous for spelling

at a surface phonetic level. Similarly, in order to spell the ambiguous second vowel in

the word "confidential," a speller should know that it is derived from "confide" and that

both words follow a regular vowel alternation pattern.

Word semantics

Knowing the underlying morpho-phonemic transformations is not always sufficient

to predict the correct spelling of a word. In English spelling, meaning often takes

precedence over sound because lexical roots and other morphemes are usually spelled

consistently despite pronunciation shifts between the base and the derived forms. In the

following pairs of words, "social society" and "electrical electricity," the shifts in

consonant pronunciation provide misleading spelling cues. However, if the words are

associated with a common semantic and lexical form, the spelling of the consonants








becomes clear. Many derivational patterns involve predictable vowel shifts that are not

represented in spelling, as in the word pairs "serene serenity" and "imagine -

imagination". The chances of spelling such words correctly are higher if judgment is

based on the meaning of the root form and the derivational rules applied to it, rather than

phoneme-grapheme correspondences.

It is believed that both spoken and written words are remembered in relation to other

related words. Also, word meanings are thought to be coded within a network of a family

of words (Nagy et al., 1989). The links between these words consist of inflectional and

derivational relationships. When one word in the family is accessed, the other related

words are also activated for possible retrieval. Furthermore, Nagy and colleagues

demonstrated that connections between words in memory are not only dependent on letter

matching but more on meaning and the sharing of structural elements at the morphemic

level. This theoretical model suggests some important implications for the spelling of

homonyms such as "flour flower," "aloud allowed," and "kernel colonel."

Selection of the appropriate spelling can only be determined by contextual meaning

combined with previous knowledge of word meaning and spelling.

Word origins

Finally, word origins play a fairly significant role in determining the spelling

patterns of many words in English. Although the English writing system is largely based

on an alphabetic code, and the spelling of a high percentage of its lexicon can be

predicted by morpho-phonemic and orthographic rules, there are still many everyday

words with unpredictable spelling patterns. For instance, why is the orthographic rule of

violated in the words "rich, much, such, which"? Or, why is the final

doubled in "dress, lass, moss, watercress" but not in an overused word like "yes"? There








is no scientific explanation to these questions, and some researchers (Hanna et al., 1966;

Hillerich, 1978) have classified such words as "exception" spelling words. Exception

words can only be learned by rote memorization of letter sequences. Henry (1988) on the

other hand, strongly believes that knowledge of word origins facilitates the learning of

exception spelling forms. Numerous historical forces have shaped the development of

written English, with Anglo-Saxon, Romance, and Greek languages playing a role in

establishing the present English lexicon, its pronunciation, and spelling. As described by

Venezky (1970), then categorized by Calfee and Drum (1986), words of Anglo-Saxon

origin do abide by basic letter-sound correspondences. These correspondences, however,

do not always parallel similar sound correspondences found in words of a different

origin. This phenomenon explains in part the occurrence of different letters to represent

the same sound. In this context, the If I sound in the Anglo-Saxon word "ship" is written

with a while the same sound is written with in "mission," a word of Latin

origin. In the same light, words of Greek origin, which include mainly scientific terms,

are characterized by typical letter digraphs to represent a familiar sound. Consequently,

the /f/ sound in the word "finger" is spelled with the letter but the same sound is

spelled with a in words such as "physics, photosynthesis, hemisphere." The same

pattern is noted for the blend /kl/ which is spelled in Anglo-Saxon words like

"clean, class, clown," but in words of Greek origin like "chlorophyll, chloroform,

chloroplasts."

The examples cited above underline the complexity of English spelling which is

influenced by at least four linguistic factors. A word of caution, however, is necessary at

this point. English spelling is not an illogical system that transcends the limits of our

learning abilities. Proficiency in English spelling is a gradual process of learning and








requires an integrated knowledge of all four factors described in earlier sections of this

chapter. With the exception of basic, monosyllabic words, the spelling of most English

lexical items incorporates at least two concepts, that is, the application of sound-letter

correspondences, partially determined by word origins and phonetic context, and

orthographic or morphological rules. In addition, automaticity in spelling develops with

increasing exposure to the printed text, and confusions between spelling choices for

suffixes (e.g., "-tion or -sion"?) and r-controlled vowels (e.g., "-ir, er, ur"?) are

eventually eliminated. The spelling of familiar and overused words becomes established

in memory whereas the spelling of novel words can be analyzed by analogy to words of

similar sound structure.

Spelling Acquisition

English spelling is a complex developmental process that has been studied by

analysis of children's naturalistic writing attempts (Bissex, 1980; Gentry, 1982; Read,

1975; 1986; Treiman, 1993) as well as experimental data (Treiman, 1985a; 1985b; 1985c;

1991; 1994; Treiman, Berch, Tincoff, & Weatherston, 1993; Treiman, Cassar, &

Zukowski, 1994; Treiman, Zukowski, & Richmond-Welty, 1995). According to these

studies, spelling is a continuous process of learning and consequently, it develops in a

broadly predictable sequence of stages between kindergarten and second grade. These

stages of spelling development have been described in several ways. The following

discussion will trace the development of Ehri's model of spelling acquisition (1993)

which emphasizes the link between speech processing and writing.

In a pioneering study, Read (1975) analyzed the spellings of precocious preschoolers

and suggested that the acquisition of spelling is a creative process similar to the learning

of speech. In his analysis, he found that children spell primarily by trying to symbolize








the sounds in words rather than by trying to reproduce memorized strings of letters.

Henderson and Beers (1980) applied Read's analytical framework to first graders'

invented spellings and concluded that first graders use the same spelling strategies

observed in Read's preschoolers. Based on a categorization of spelling strategies, the

researchers proposed three general stages of spelling development: (1) a pre-reading

stage, in which children spell by combining letters and numbers randomly, without

making any sound-symbol correspondences; (2) a letter-name stage, in which children

spell by segmenting the word into sounds and then selecting alphabet letters that contain

those sounds in their names; and (3) a transitional stage, in which children exhibit an

emerging awareness that English orthography is not a fixed one-to-one, sound-symbol

writing code. Based on Bissex's (1980) case study of spelling development "GNYS AT

WRK" and Henderson and Beers' (1980) general scheme for stages of spelling

acquisition, Gentry (1982) posited five stages of spelling development pre-

communicative, semi-phonetic, phonetic, transitional, and correct. These stages reflect

the growth of spelling skills exhibited by a child who moves from the earliest attempts at

writing to the use of conventional spelling forms.

Most recently, Ehri (1991, 1992a, 1993) incorporated components of all previous

spelling stage models and proposed a revised four-stage model of spelling acquisition that

reflects relationships between orthographic, phonological and morphological units

observed in children's invented spellings. Ehri's model stresses the fact that English

orthography has strong phonological underpinnings and children handle the complexities

of the writing system by devising strategies. These strategies, often creative in nature,

define the different stages since they reflect the writer's knowledge of phoneme-

grapheme relationships, orthographic constraints, and grammatical rules such as








affixation and stress patterns. Furthermore, as knowledge of conventional spelling

patterns increases through refinement of phonemic awareness, knowledge of the syntactic

and semantic structure of the language and general exposure to print, early spelling

strategies become suppressed and new strategies emerge to deal with more complex

structures. Although some studies have criticized the validity of stage models as

representative of the normal process of learning to spell (Varnhagen, McCallum, &

Burstow, 1997), Ehri's model of spelling acquisition provides a sound longitudinal

guideline to children's expected performance in spelling tasks (Henderson, 1990).

In Ehri's four-stage model of spelling acquisition, each stage is characterized, and

named, according to the predominant strategies used during that period of acquisition.

During the first stage, called the pre-communicative, or pre-phonetic stage, children

produce scribbles, consisting of randomly selected letters and numbers, to represent

words or sentences. Letters do not correspond to sounds and are not differentiated from

numbers. Thus, tack is spelled as

and muffin as (Ehri, 1993). In many

instances, the written forms of words are meant to represent their meanings such that

whale is spelled with more letters than the names of small objects like mosquito

(Lundberg and Torneus, 1978). The pre-phonetic stage begins very early, as soon as a

child realizes that his speech can be transcribed into a written form.

In the next stage, called semi-phonetic, children learn the names and sounds of the

alphabet letters, and attempt to use this knowledge when selecting letters for their

spellings. Initially, children record only one or two letters corresponding to sounds,

usually occurring in word-initial and final positions. Examples of semi-phonetic

spellings take the form of for pickle, for road, and for feet

(Lombardino, Bedford, Fortier, Carter, & Brandi, 1998). Letter name strategies play a








prominent role in the selection of letters representing a speech sound. As shown by the

above examples, this strategy often yields fairly accurate phonetic representations of a

word. However, the names of a few English letters are misleading guides to sound and

may suggest the wrong spellings. For example, the phoneme /w/ occurs in the name of

the letter but /w/ is never spelled as in English. Kindergarteners and

preschoolers studied by Treiman, Weatherston and Berch (1994) spelled /w/ with a ,

producing spellings such as for went and for wife. Similarly, the affricate

/If/ is heard in the letter name (pronounced as /eitf), thus explaining the spelling

for the word chin.

The semi-phonetic stage is characterized by syllabic representations of salient

consonants and vowels, with strong reliance on letter name strategies. An example of

children's attempts to represent units of syllables rather than individual phonemes is aptly

illustrated in the spelling of final consonant clusters. At this stage, children often fail to

represent the first consonants of clusters. These omissions occur for a variety of

consonants, but especially for nasals like the I/n/ of drink (spelled ) and the

liquids /r/ and /I/ as in warm (spelled ) and cold (spelled ) (Read, 1986;

Treiman, 1993; Treiman, Zukowski, & Richmond-Welty, 1995). These errors arise

because children consider the consonant cluster as one single sound unit and therefore,

represent it with one letter only (Treiman, 1997a).

The reduction of initial consonant clusters forms another case in which children

group together separate phonemes. Children often omit the second and third consonants

in clusters, spelling play and street (Bruck & Treiman, 1990; Treiman,

1985). Children consider the spoken word play to contain the initial consonant unit /pl/

followed by a vowel. Consequently, they symbolize the onset of the syllable with a








single letter rather than analyzing it into two separate phonemes and representing each

phoneme with a letter symbol.

Finally, children's tendency to use units larger than single phonemes when relating

speech into print is reflected in their use of consonant letters whose names (e.g., says

/el/) are similar to the sounds in the word, or part of the word. Examples include

for farmer, for elephant, and for bumblebees

(Treiman, 1997a; Treiman & Tincoff, 1997). The first of apparently

stands for both the vowel and the liquid sounds, which, when combined, constitute the

name of the letter . A similar explanation holds for the spellings of the other two

words. Such errors seem to be more common for the consonants and because

of the close similarity between the pronunciations of their alphabet names and the vowel-

liquid syllable. In particular, children substitute a single letter for the /el/ and /ar/

syllables, as opposed to the /al/ and /Er/ syllables. In other words, it is more likely that a

child will spell the word bell as than ball as because in the first example,

there is a stronger phonological association between the vowel //! and the following

liquid I/l. Given this fact, and given the close link that children in the semi-phonetic

stage form between the syllable /El/ and the name of the letter , the word bell is

spelled . In contrast, the /a/ and /1/ in ball do not form such a strong unit and

children tend to divide the syllable rime into a separate vowel followed by a consonant

(Treiman, 1993, 1994).

The third stage, called phonetic, appears when children learn to segment words into

constituent sounds and to select a letter for every sound. Examples of phonetic spellings

are for quick and for back. In order to produce phonetic spellings,








beginners need to know that a syllable in English necessarily consists of a vowel.

Beginning writers therefore need to know how to symbolize vowels. At the phonetic

stage, children tend to use their knowledge of alphabet letter names creatively to derive

short vowel spellings from the letter name articulated in a similar position. For example,

//l is derived from
, /1/ is derived from , and /U/ is derived from <0>. Long

vowels are represented with one letter with the same name. Diphthongs and back vowels

are often spelled creatively, such as for pile, for boy, and for

boat.

The phonetic spelling stage is driven by an awareness of fine-grained articulatory

phonetic detail that is not symbolized in conventional spelling. Such is the explanation

for the affrication on the initial blends

/0/ digraph
#pl- blend; digraph
#sw- blend;
-4 /6/
digraph
rule
digraph;
rule
cluster;
diphthong rule
rule
Hard ; -nk# blend
Cons-le rule
/u:/ digraph
Short vowel in closed
syllable; plural -s -> /z/
digraph; past tense -
ed -) /id/
digraph; plural -es
- /iz/
-4 with plural
suffix
-) with plural
suffix





Table 2-2. continued

Test Item
S/he vrays

S/he snies

They ploiked

They glayed

They zocked

I was frazing

I was vapping

I am gomping


Two nashes
Franceive


Table 2-3. Sample of the Test Format

1. wem warn worn wim
5. yontrude yuntrude yentrude yuntrud
14. zach zash zah zatch



monosyllabic words, the remaining items are arranged without consideration of the level

of spelling difficulty. Thus, the three spelling patterns occur in a random order.

Procedure

The spelling test was administered as a one-time group activity to children from the

same grade. No more than 30 children were included in a group. The children were

seated either in rows or side by side around a large table in a quiet room within the


Spelling Pattern
Ortho Only

Ortho Only

PA + Ortho

PA + Ortho

Ortho Only

Ortho Only

Ortho Only

PA + Ortho


Ortho Only
PA + Ortho


Description
Diphthong with
suffix -s
Diphthong + suffix -s
-)
diphthong; past tense
-ed /t/
diphthong; past tense
-ed -> /d/
rule; past tense -ed
-) /t/
Drop silent -e with suffix
-ing
Double consonant with
suffix-ing
-mp# blend; -ing suffix
without consonant
doubling
Plural -es 4/&z/
#fr- blend; digraph
before








premises of the school. Individual test forms (cf. Appendix C) and pencils were

distributed to each child. Clear instructions were given, explaining the rules of the

activity. These included:

1) maintain silence;

2) don't look at neighbors' responses since all words are make-believe words with
no fixed spelling forms;

3) watch the examiner's lips.

If there were any questions, the children were instructed to raise their hands and the

examiner or her supervisor would come to help them. Furthermore, the children were

reassured that their performance on this spelling activity would in no way interfere with

their class grades.

The test was administered by the principal investigator and her supervisor. When

needed, a loudspeaker and microphone system was used to amplify the investigator's

voice, gain the children's attention and reduce external distractions. Before beginning the

actual test, two sample test items were illustrated as examples. In the actual test, each

item was read aloud twice with a 5-second interval between readings. Children were

instructed to listen to each word carefully, read all four choices on their paper, then circle

the most appropriate spelling form. A maximum of 5 10 seconds was allowed to answer

each item. The investigator and her supervisor watched the children individually to

ensure that all items were answered and that one choice only was selected for each item.

Complete administration of the test required 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the grade

and attention level of the group. Immediately following the test administration, all test

forms were checked; incomplete forms or those that exhibited a pattern of random answer







59
choice were discarded. From the entire pool of 400 data test forms, a total of eight were

discarded.

Scoring

Raw scores were computed for each test individually after the child's name and

grade had been replaced by a code. Four scores were calculated: (1) a total raw score

consisting of the number of items correctly identified on the test; (2) a subscore

consisting of the number of PA-Only items correctly identified on the test, (3) a subscore

consisting of the number of Ortho-Only items correctly identified on the test; and (4) a

subscore consisting of the number of PA + Ortho items correctly identified on the test.

Table 2-4 summarizes the breakdown of the raw scores for the three subdivisions and

the total items. One point was awarded for each item. The three subscores, which were

of unequal weight, were converted to a possible total of 10 points to allow relative

comparison between the three spelling patterns.



Table 2-4. Distribution of Scores.

Spelling Test Stimuli Number of Items Tested and
Highest Possible score
PA-Only 10

Ortho-Only 12 (converted to a scale of 10)

PA + Ortho 13 (converted to a scale of 10)

Total Test Score 35



Data Reduction and Statistical Analysis

The data were divided into two sample sets, each set consisting of the spelling scores

obtained by subjects from three randomly selected schools. One set of data was used for








data exploration, a statistical method that employs graphical and arithmetical procedures

to observe trends in data behavior, propose hypotheses based on these trends and support

these hypotheses by numerical testing (Rice, 1988). The second set of data was used to

retest the hypotheses proposed at the completion of data exploration and, in case of

agreement in findings, confirm the assumption that children from different schools within

the county exhibit similar patterns of spelling acquisition. Since there was no evidence

that the data were normally distributed in either of the two sets, data analysis was

performed using nonparametric statistics, a method of analysis that does not assume

normal distribution of the sample. Data in both sets were also analyzed using parametric

statistics to compare the power of the two methods of analysis as well as to test if sample

size influences analysis results when the assumption of normality is violated.

Testing for Homogeneity of Samples

The data in each sample set were first tested for homogeneity of variances, a

statistical procedure that allows the researcher to determine whether or not several

samples represent a subset of the same population. In this study, the grade performance

on the Early Spelling Recognition Test was tested for homogeneity across schools by

comparing data observations from one grade and one school with data observations of the

same grade at other participating schools. For example, the sample of scores obtained by

grade 2 in school I was compared to the sample of scores obtained by grade 2 in school 3

and school 6. The same procedure was repeated for grades 3, 4, and 5 respectively for

the two sample sets of data observations. Results of a one-way analysis of variance

(ANOVA) indicated no significant difference (p > 0.05) when performance in the same

grades at different schools, was compared (Tables 2-5 and 2-6). Similar findings of no

statistically significant difference were found when the Kruskal-Wallis test, a non-








parametric measure parallel to the one-way ANOVA, was performed on the same two

data sets (Tables 2-7 and 2-8). Based on these findings for positive homogeneity of

variances, all subsequent data analyses were performed on samples in which data

observations were pooled from the three schools randomly selected for the data

exploration and the hypothesis testing sample sets respectively.



Table 2-5. Homogeneity of Samples by Grade (2-5) and School (1, 3, and 6) Data
Exploration Set

Sum of Df Mean F Sig.
..... ...... Squares __ __ Square
GRADE 2
Between Groups 154.490 2 77.245 2.846 .072
Within Groups 949.852 35 27.139
Total 1104.342 37

GRADE 3
Between Groups 8.297 2 4.149 .131 .878
Within Groups 1362.137 43 31.678
Total 1370.435 45

GRADE 4
Between Groups 150.870 2 75.435 3.733 .085
Within Groups 646.673 32 20.209
Total 797.534 34

GRADE 5
Between Groups 5.859 2 2.930 .142 .868
Within Groups 702.573 34 20.664
Total 708.432 36
Statistical significance at p < .05



Testing for Normality of Test Score Distribution

As a general rule, statistical tests are based on the assumption that the data under

study are normally distributed. If this basic assumption is violated, the statistical test

loses its power, and test results are neither valid nor reliable. Nevertheless, when the









normality assumption is not met, data can be analyzed using nonparametric tests (Sprent,

1989).



Table 2-6. Homogeneity of Samples by Grade (2-5) and School (2, 4 and 5) -
Hypothesis Testing Set


GRADE 2
Between Groups
Within Groups
Total


Sum of Df Mean F
Squares Square

6.345 2 3.172 .253
514.564 41 12.550
520.909 43


GRADE 3
Between Groups 37.967 2 18.983 .956
Within Groups 1330.619 90 19.860
Total 1368.586 92

GRADE 4
Between Groups 42.008 2 42.008 2.348
Within Groups 679.767 55 17.889
Total 721.775 57


GRADE 5
Between Groups 6.017 2 6.017 .521 .477
Within Groups 288.650 40 11.546
Total 294.667 42
Statistical significance at p < .05



Table 2-7. Homogeneity of Samples by Grade (2-5) and School (1, 3 and 6) (Kruskal-
Wallis Test) Data Exploration Set

Chi-Square Df Asymp. Sig
GRADE 2 5.763 2 .056

GRADE 3 .102 2 .950

GRADE 4 4.505 2 .105

GRADE 5 .722 2 .697
Statistical significance at p < .05








Table 2-8. Homogeneity of Samples by Grade (2-5) and School (2, 4 and 5) (Kruskal-
Wallis Test) Hypothesis Testing Set

Chi-Square Df Asymp. Sig
GRADE 2 .556 2 .757

GRADE 3 1.967 2 .374

GRADE 4 .977 2 .323

GRADE 5 .267 2 .606
Statistical significance at p < .05



The data for this study were first tested for normality by graphical and numerical

methods. Box-n-dot plots were drawn to represent the distribution of the pooled total test

scores obtained by each grade (Figures 2-1 and 2-2). A box-n-dot plot (John, 1988, pp.

312-346) is a graphical display that gives an indication of the center of the data

(represented by the middle line in the box and referred to as the median or 50th

percentile), the spread of the data (represented by the horizontal lines above and below

the box, these lines are approximately 1.5 standard deviations above and below the mean

respectively) and the presence of outliers (represented by open circles). The box-n-dot

plot also shows the symmetry or skewness of the distribution of data values by the

positioning of the median within the box. If the median is situated around the center of

the box, the data are assumed to be normally distributed.

Observation of these plots indicated that in most cases, the median was not

symmetrically situated, thus suggesting that total test scores in a grade did not necessarily

have a normal distribution. The Lilliefors Test for Normality (Conover, 1980, p. 357-61)

was performed, and results confirmed the graphical observation that the data of this study

were not normally distributed in all cases (Tables 2-9 and 2-10). The data were










40




30




20



I-
0 10


0

Z o
N= 3 46 35 37
2.00 3.00 4.00 5.00

GRADE


Figure 2-1. Box-n-Dot Plot for Data Exploration Set (Schools 1, 3, and 6).






40




30















N 44 93 50 43
200 300 4.00 500


GRADE


Figure 2-2. Box-n-Dot Plot for Hypothesis Testing Set (Schools 2, 4, and 5).








consequently analyzed using the Kruskal-Wallis test and Wilcoxon's Signed Ranks test,

two nonparametric statistical methods (Conover, 1980, p. 229-37). The analysis was

performed using SPSS Base 7.5 for Windows.



Table 2-9. Tests of Normality Data Exploration Set

Skewness Statistic Df Sig.
Grade 2 .194 .121 38 .172
Grade 3 -.189 .112 46 .132
Grade 4 .398 .156 35 .017*
Grade 5 -.972 .180 37 .010*
statistically significant at p < .05



Table 2-10. Tests of Normality Hypothesis Testing Set

Skewness Statistic Df Sig.
Grade 2 .065 .120 44 .117
Grade 3 -.689 .072 93 .200
Grade 4 -.751 .101 58 .200
Grade 5 -1.129 .174 43 .002*
* statistically significant at p < .05



The Kruskal-Wallis test, which is based on the ranked ordering of observations

across data sets under study, determines whether or not any number of independent

samples of unequal size belong to the same population. In case the independent samples

do not belong to the same population, Fischer's Test of Least Significant Differences, a

follow-up procedure of multiple comparisons, identifies pairs of data sets that are

significantly different (Sprent, 1989). This study involved a number of independent

samples of unequal size that were related in some aspects but were significantly different

in behavior in other aspects. In other words, the data were divided into independent

samples by grade (4 grades), and spelling patterns (3 patterns). The model used








combinations of samples tested for membership in the same population as outlined in

Table 2-11.


Table 2-11. Combinations of Independent Samples in Study

COMBINATION DATA EXPLORATION
EXAMPLE
1. Grade x 3 Schools (Grade 2 x 3 Schools)
(Grade 3 x 3 Schools)
(Grade 4 x 3 Schools)
(Grade 5 x 3 Schools)

2. Spelling Pattern x 4 (PA-Only x Grade 2)
Grades (PA-Only x Grade 3)
(PA-Only x Grade 4)
(PA-Only x Grade 5)

3. Spelling Pattern x 4 (Ortho-Only x Grade 2)
Grades (Ortho-Only x Grade 3)
(Ortho-Only x Grade 4)
(Ortho-Only x Grade 5)

4. Spelling Pattern x 4 (PA + Ortho x Grade 2)
Grades (PA + Ortho x Grade 3)
(PA + Ortho x Grade 4)
(PA + Ortho x Grade 5)


HYPOTHESIS TESTING
EXAMPLE
(Grade 2 x 3 Schools)
(Grade 3 x 3 Schools)
(Grade 4 x 3 Schools)
(Grade 5 x 3 Schools)

(PA-Only x Grade 2)
(PA-Only x Grade 3)
(PA-Only x Grade 4)
(PA-Only x Grade 5)

(Ortho-Only x Grade 2)
(Ortho-Only x Grade 3)
(Ortho-Only x Grade 4)
(Ortho-Only x Grade 5)

(PA + Ortho x Grade 2)
(PA + Ortho x Grade 3)
(PA + Ortho x Grade 4)
(PA + Ortho x Grade 5)


Wilcoxon's Signed Ranks test, a statistical procedure used to explore the

relationship between several related samples, was administered to determine whether or

not a difference exists in the performance on the three spelling patterns within the same

grade. All non-parametric procedures were repeated using parallel parametric methods of

analysis in order to compare results and note whether or not the selection of a statistical

method of analysis contingent on the assumption of normality interferes with








interpretation of results. The Kruskal-Wallis test was matched and compared with the

One-Way-Analysis of Variance while Wilcoxon's Signed Ranks test was matched with

the Paired Samples T-test.

In summary, parametric and nonparametric methods of statistical analysis indicated

that grade performance on the Early Spelling Recognition Test was similar in all

participating schools, thus satisfying the homogeneity of samples condition when

designing and standardizing a tool. Based on these findings of homogeneity of samples

by grade and school, data observations from three schools were pooled to form a data

exploration set and a data testing set respectively. All subsequent statistical analyses

were performed on the two sets of pooled data. Tests of normality indicated that data in

both the data exploration and the hypothesis testing sets were not normally distributed for

all grades. Consequently, all data analyses, reported in the next chapter, were performed

using nonparametric and parallel parametric statistical methods.













CHAPTER 3
RESULTS


This chapter reports the results of the statistical analysis done on the sample of

spelling scores obtained by children in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5 respectively on the Early

Spelling Recognition Test (ESRT). Findings are presented in two sections, (1) data

exploration and (2) hypothesis testing. Within each section, findings are presented

relative to the six experimental questions posed in Chapter 1. First, how do children from

grades 2, 3, 4 and 5 respectively perform on the Early Spelling Recognition Test?

Second, is there a difference in spelling performance across the four grades? Third, are

there between-grade differences in the performance of the three spelling patterns (PA-

Only, Ortho-Only, and PA + Ortho)? Fourth, are there within-grade differences in the

performance of the three spelling patterns? Fifth, what are the most frequent error types

at each grade level? And sixth, does SES influence spelling performance? For each

question, the results of the parametric and non-parametric statistical tests will be

presented side-by-side, followed by a description of the means and medians.

Data Exploration

Data from three schools, selected at random from a group of six schools, were

combined and used to examine patterns of spelling development in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5

respectively. The number of subjects in each grade was unequal: there were 38 subjects

in grade 2, 46 subjects in grade 3, 35 subjects in grade 4, and 37 subjects in grade 5,

resulting in a total number of 156 subjects in the sample set.








Grade Performance on the ESRT

Total scores, defined as the total number of correct responses on the ESRT, were

examined for each of the four grades independently using both parametric and non-

parametric methods of statistical analysis. The distribution of scores in each grade was

studied relative to the mean, median, standard deviation and interquartile range (IQR)

(Table 3-1.) The IQR, defined as half the range of scores that fall between the 25th and

the 75h quartiles, is a measure of the variability of scores from the median value. The

IQR is also approximately equivalent to 1.5 standard deviations from the mean.

Approximate equivalencies between the IQR, standard deviations and percentiles are

summarized in Table 3-2.


Table 3-1. Distribution of Total ESRT Scores by Grade.

Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5
N 38 46 35 37
Mean 19.9 20.6 26.3 26.6
Std. Deviation 5.5 5.5 4.8 4.4
Median 19.5 21.5 28.0 28.0
IQR 7.0 9.0 6.5 5.0



Table 3-2. Approximate equivalencies between measures.

Measures on Box-n-Dot plot Measures in Standard Deviations
75 percentile 0.9 SD above the mean
Upper end of IQR (93d percentile) 1.5 SD above the mean
25 percentile 0.9 SD below the mean
Lower end of IQR (7th percentile) 1.5 SD below the mean
Extremes Scores between 1.25 and 1.5 SD above and
below the mean respectively
Outliers Scores 1.5 SD above and below the mean
respectively








In each of the four grades, the mean and the median of the total test scores were

dissimilar yet relatively close in value In grade 2, the mean (19.9) is slightly higher than

the median (19.5), suggesting that the distribution of total test scores is very slightly

positively skewed In each of the grades 3, 4, and 5 respectively, the mean total test

score is consistently lower than the median (x = 20.6, M = 21.5 for grade 3; x = 26.3, M =

28 for grade 4; x = 26.4, M = 28 for grade 5), suggesting that the distribution of total test

scores in each grade is negatively skewed.

Box-n-dot plots were drawn for each grade independently to identify scores that fell

below the 250 quartile and above the 75th quartile (Fig. 3-1). In grade 2, eleven scores

fell below the 25h quartile while eight scores fell above the 75* quartile. In grade 3,

twelve scores fell below the 25th quartile and eight scores fell above the 75"' quartile. In

grade 4, seven scores fell below the 25h quartile while seven scores fell above the 75*'

quartile. In grade 5, ten scores fell below the 25th quartile with two of the scores falling

below the 7' percentile, that is, these two scores were outliers and were greater than 1.5

SD below the mean. In grade 5, nine scores fell above the 75th quartile.

Spelling Performance across Grades

Mean and median total test scores showed that spelling performance on the ESRT

improved consistently across grades 2 through 5 (Table 3-1). This improvement across

grades was supported by a statistically significant Kruskal-Wallis test statistic, x'(3, 156)

= 43.7, p < .05 as well as a one way analysis of variance (ANOVA), F (3, 156) = 19.1, p

< .05 (Table 3-3 and Table 3-4).

Fisher's least significant difference (LSD) post hoc comparisons indicated a

statistically significant improvement in spelling performance between grades 2 and 4,

grades 2 and 5, grades 3 and 4 and grades 3 and 5. No statistically significant













4U







0




o 01200
S(11) (12
1-


) 10
..J

0
N= 38 46 35 37
2.00 3.00 4.00 5.00

GRADE




Figure 3-1. Box-n-Dot Plots for Total Test Scores in each Grade.
Note: Box-n-dot plots show the distribution of scores relative to the median score The
bold line inside the box represents the median score for each of the grades and (x) inside
the box represents the mean score for each of the grades. The upper border of the box
represents the 75h quartile while the lower border represents the 25h quartile. The
horizontal lines extending above and below the box respectively show the IQR, that is,
half the range of scores that fall between the two quartiles. The horizontal line below the
25t' quartile is equivalent to the 7- percentile. The horizontal line above the 75th quartile
is equivalent to the 93' percentile. Both boundaries represent 1.5 standard deviations
from the mean. Numbers in parentheses represent the number of scores that fell below
the 25t1 quartile or above the 75t quartile. Empty circles represent outliers, which are
scores greater than 1. 5 SD above and below the mean respectively.








Table 3-3. Kruskal-Wallis Test Statistics for Spelling Performance across Grades.

Grade N Mean Rank Chi-Square Df Asymp. Sig.
2.00 38 53.4 43.7 3 .000*
3.00 46 59.0
4.00 35 102.6
5.00 37 105.7
* Difference significant at p < .05



Table 3-4. ANOVA for Spelling Performance across Grades.

Sum of Squares Df Mean Square F Sig.
Between Groups 1499.5 3 499.8 19.1 ,000*
Within Groups 3980.7 152 26.2
Total 5480.3 155
* Difference significant at p < .05



improvement in spelling performance was noted between grades 2 and 3 and between

grades 4 and 5 (Table 3-5).


Table 3-5. Multiple Comparisons and LSD between Grades on Total Test Scores.

GRADE GRADE Mean Difference Std. Error Sig.
2.00 3.00 -.78 1.12 .50
4.00 -6.44* 1.19 .00
5.00 -6.78* 1.18 .00

3.00 2.00 .78 1.12 .49
4.00 -5.66* 1.15 .00
5.00 -5.99* 1.13 .00

4.00 2.00 6.44* 1,19 .00
300 5.66* 1.15 .00
5.00 -.33 1.20 .78

5.00 2.00 6.78* 1.18 .00
3.00 5.99* 1.13 .00
4.00 .33 1.20 .78
* Mean difference significant at p < .05








Between-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns

Performance on each of the three error patterns, PA-Only, Ortho-Only, and PA +

Ortho, improved from grades 2 to 5, as depicted by mean and median scores (Table 3-6).

This improvement was supported by a statistically significant difference on each of the

three spelling patterns across the four grades (Tables 3-7 and 3-8).



Table 3-6. Descriptive Measures on Three Spelling Patterns by Grade

PA-Only Ortho-Only PA + Ortho
Grade 2 N 38 38 38
Median (IQR) 7.5(1.5) 4.9 (2.5) 5.4(3.1)
Mean (std. Dev.) 7.4(1.5) 4.7(1.9) 5.2(1.9)

Grade 3 N 46 46 46
Median (IQR) 8.0 (2.2) 5.0(3.4) 5.4(3.1)
Mean (std. Dev.) 7.7(1.7) 5.1 (1.9) 5.4(1.9)

Grade 4 N 35 35 35
Median (IQR) 9.0 (2.0) 6.7 (2.5) 7.7 (1.5)
Mean (std. Dev.) 8.7 (1.5) 6.9 (1.8) 7.1 (1.5)

Grade 5 N 37 37 37
Median (IQR) 9.0 (2.0) 7.5 (2.9) 7.7 (2.3)
Mean (std. Dev.) 9.0(1.1) 7.1(2.2) 7.1(1-5)




Table 3-7. Relationship of Performance on Each Spelling Pattern between Grades -
Kruskal-Wallis Test.

PA-Only Ortho-Only PA + Ortho
Chi-Square 29.78 38.11 31.74
Df 3 3 3
Asymp. Sig. .000* .000* .000*
* Difference significant at p < .05









Table 3-8. Relationship of Performance on Each Spelling Pattern between Grades -
ANOVA

Sum of Df Mean Square F Sig.
Squares
PA-Only
Between Groups 69.48 3 23.162 10.664 .000*
Within Groups 330.12 152 2.172
Total 399.61 155

Ortho-Only
Between Groups 176.255 3 58.752 15.823 .000*
Within Groups 564.375 152 3.713
Total 740.629 155

PA + Ortho
Between Groups 123.117 3 41.039 13.204 .000*
Within Groups 472.427 152 3.108
Total 595.544 155
Difference in performance significant at p < .05



Fisher's LSD post-hoc analyses showed that in spelling words of the PA-Only type,

there was a significant difference between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5, grades 3 and 4

and grades 3 and 5. No significant difference for spelling word type occurred between

grades 2 and 3 and grades 4 and 5 (Table 3-9).

Fisher's LSD post-hoc analyses showed that in spelling words of the Ortho-Only

type, there was a significant difference between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5, grades 3

and 4, and grades 3 and 5. No significant difference for spelling word type occurred

between grades 2 and 3 and grades 4 and 5 (Table 3-10).

Fisher's LSD post-hoc analyses showed that in spelling words of the PA + Ortho

type, there was a significant difference between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5, grades 3

and 4 and grades 3 and 5. No significant difference for spelling word type occurred

between grades 2 and 3 and grades 4 and 5 (Table 3-11).









Table 3-9. Between-Grade Multiple Comparisons of Performance on PA only Words.


Grade
2.00



3.00


Grade
3.00
4.00
5.00

2.00
4.00
5.00


5-00 2.00
3.00
4.00
* Difference significant at p < .05


Mean Difference
-.3272
-1.3173*
-1.6316*

.3272
-.9901*
-1.3043*

1.3173*
.9901*
-.3143

1.6316*
1.3043*
.3143


Std. Error Sig.
.323 .313
.345 .000
.340 .000


Table 3-10. Between-Grade Multiple Comparisons of Performance on Ortho-Only
Words


Grade
2.00



3.00


Grade
3.00
4.00
5.00

2.00
4.00
5.00


.00 2.00
3.00
4.00
Difference significant at p < .05


Mean Difference
-.3030
-2.2278*
-2.3394*

.3030
-1.9248*
-2.0364*

2.2278*
1.9248*
-.1116

2.3394*
2.0364*
1116


Std. Error
.422
.451
.445

.422
.432
.426

.451
.432
.454

.445
.426
.454











Table 3-11. Between-Grade Multiple Comparisons of Performance on PA + Ortho
Words.


2.
2.


4.


rade Grade
00 3.00
4.00
5.00

00 2.00
400
5.00

00 2.00
3.00
5.00

00 2.00
3.00
4.00
Difference significant at p < .05


Mean Difference
-.1470
-1.8579*
-1.8606*

.1470
-1.7109*
-1.7136*

1.8579*
1.7109*
-2.7027

1.8606*
1.7136*
2.703


Std. Error Sig.
.386 .704
.413 .000
.407 .000

.386 .704
.395 .000
.389 .000

.413 .000
.395 .000
.416 .995

.407 .000
.389 .000
.416 .995


Within-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns

Mean and median scores obtained on each of the three spelling error patterns, PA-

Only, Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho, showed a pattern of difficulty in spelling performance

across all four grades (Table 3-6). All grades performed best on the PA-Only type of

words and most poorly on the Ortho-Only type of words. Scores on the PA + Ortho type

of words were consistently lower than on the PA-Only type of words but slightly higher

than on the Ortho-Only type of words.

Within each grade, performance on the three spelling error patterns showed a

statistically significant difference (for grade 2, X2(2, 113) = 32.9, p < .05; for grade 3, X2

(2, 137) = 50.4, p < .05; for grade 4, X2(2, 104) = 19.4, p < .05; for grade 5, x2(2, 109)=

62.9, p < .05). Both the Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test and the Paired Samples T-test

showed that for each of the four grades, a significant difference occurred between the








spelling performance of a) PA-Only and Ortho-Only type of words and b) PA-Only and

PA + Ortho type of words. In grade 2, a statistically significant difference also occurred

between the spelling performance of Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho type of spelling words.

In grades 3, 4 and 5, there was no statistically significant difference in scores between the

Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho error types (Table 3-12).



Table 3-12. Differences between Spelling Patterns in each Grade: Wilcoxon Signed
Ranks Test and Paired Samples Test

Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test Paired Samples Test
Grade Pairs Mean Z Asymp. Mean (std. T Df Sig
Rank Sig. Dev.)
2 1 19.89 -5.19 .000* 2.6(1.7) 9.62 37 .000*
2 21.28 -5.12 .000* 2.1 (1.6) 7.96 37 .000*
3 15.86 -2.16 .031* -.5(1.3) -2.31 37 .026*

3 1 23.48 -5.82 .000* 2.6(1.7) 10.52 45 .000*
2 24.95 -5.82 .000* 2.3 (1.7) 9. 15 45 .000*
3 23.08 -.86 .388 -.3 (1.8) -1.21 45 .232

4 1 20.45 -4.61 .000* 1.7(1.7) 5.85 34 .000*
2 18.82 -4.40 .000* 1.6(1.5) 6.13 34 .000*
3 17.66 -.26 .797 -.1 (1.7) -.39 34 .698

5 1 20.05 -4.69 .000* 1.9(1.8) 6.34 36 .000*
2 19.68 -4.79 .000* 1.9(1.6) 7.05 36 .000*
3 22.90 -.12 .904 -5.4(1.6) -.02 36 .984

Pair I = PA-Only Ortho-Only
Pair 2 = PA-Only PA + Ortho
Pair 3 = Ortho-Only PA + Ortho
Paired difference significant at p < .05



Most Frequently Occurring Spelling Errors Between and Within Grades on the ESRT

A list of specific phonemic and orthographic spelling errors was created from the

targets included in the Experimental Spelling Recognition Test (Table 3-13). The








frequency of occurrence of these spelling errors was counted for grades 2, 3, 4 and 5

respectively and the numbers of errors was calculated based on the total number of

possible errors in each grade. The number of errors was then converted into a percentage

of the total number of possible errors for each error type by grade (Tables 3-14 and 3-15).

In all four grades, the highest number of phonemic errors occurred on spelling the long

and short vowel represented by the letter . For example, a common error occurred on

the word "zuleps" where the long vowel sound in the first open syllable was represented

with the letter sequences . Similarly, the short vowel sound in the first closed

syllable of the word "yuntrude" was often represented with the letters or .



Table 3-13. Frequent Spelling Error Targets across Grades.

Errors of Phonemic Awareness Orthographic Errors
1. in open and closed syllables 1. Adding suffix -s to a root
2 vowel digraphs, e.g., 2. Adding suffix -ed to a root
3. consonant digraphs, e.g., 3. -tch/-ch? -dge/-ge? -ck/-k?
4. consonant blends, e.g., <-nt, fr> 4. Syllable type: V-Ce
5. Syllable type: Con-I e
6. Doubling rule
7. /



Table 3-14. Percentage of Phonemic Awareness Error Types by Grade

Error Types Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5
in open/closed syllables 47.4% 52.2% 45.7% 40.5%
Vowel digraphs 17.4% 19.1% 9.7% 8.6%
Consonant digraphs 21.7% 13.6% 7.8% 7.4%
Consonant blends 14.0% 21.7% 9.5% 2.7%



In grade 2, a high percent of errors occurred on selection of the appropriate

consonant and vowel digraphs. Fewer errors were made on consonant blends. A similar








pattern of frequency of error types was noted for grade 3. Both digraphs and consonant

blends were problematic spelling targets. In grades 4 and 5, the total percent of errors by

type was relatively reduced. However, in grade 4, an equal percent of errors was made

on digraphs and consonant blends. By grade 5, errors on consonant blends were

markedly reduced, but persisted on vowel and consonant digraphs.


Table 3-15. Percentage of Orthographic Error Types by Grade.

Error Types Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5
-y + s -) ies 45% 53% 29% 19%
-Vy + s Vys 15% 20% 17% 26%
-sh/ch + s -) sh/ches 28% 17% 19%/ 15%
-fe + s yves 17% 14% 15% 12%
suffix s -/z/ 12% 17% 08% 12%

Suffix -ed- /t/ 37% 39% 14% 19%0/
Suffix -ed /id/ 18% 12% 7% 7%
-ay + ed -ayed 14% 15% 9% 6%
consonant doubling 33% 41% 25% 28%
drop silent -e 14% 22% 19% 11%

-tch/-ch? -dge/ge? -ck/k? 59% 53% 29% 24%

V Con-e syllable 23% 23% 9% 12%
Con-I e syllable 28% 24% 11% 18%

Doubling s rule 05% 06% 2% 4%

-ie -) ei / 19% 12% 14% 190/%



In all four grades, the most frequent orthographic error occurred on the rule-based

selection of the consonant combinations , and . Other

prominent orthographic errors involved knowledge of spelling rules for adding the suffix

to a root word that ends in the vowel as well as the three phonetic








representations of the suffix . In other words, children from all four grades had

some degree of difficulty understanding that the form of the suffix remains the same

despite differences in pronunciation. As a result, they tended to select the spelling form

that was closest to the phonetic representation of the word, for example, when they heard

"they ploiked yesterday", they selected the spelling form instead of .

This trend in spelling orthographic rule-based patterns from a phonetic standpoint

decreased as grade level increased but did not disappear by grade 5.

Effect of SES on Spelling Performance

One third of the subjects in this data set were on free or reduced lunch status, the

criterion used to divide children into one of two socioeconomic levels. Within each

grade, a similar proportion of subjects were on free or reduced lunch status (Table 3-16).

Descriptive measures showed that subjects on free or reduced lunch status consistently

obtained a lower total test score on the experimental spelling recognition test relative to

their peers who were not on free or reduced lunch (Table 3-16). Both the Kruskal-Wallis

test and an ANOVA supported the observation that the overall spelling performance of

the two groups of subjects was significantly different, X2 (1, 154) = 9.77, p < .05; F (1,

154) = 12.23, p< .05.

However, this difference failed to reach statistical significance for every grade.

Only in grades 3 and 4 did lunch status of a child result in a statistically significant

difference on total ESRT scores, X2 (1, 45) = 5.73, p < .05; F (1,45) = 6.86, p < .05 for

grade 3, X2 (1, 34)= 3.70, p <.05; F (1, 45)= 5.33, p < .05 for grade 4. In grade 2, where

35.8% of the children were on free or reduced lunch, there was no statistically significant

difference in the spelling performance between the two groups, X2 (1, 37) = 0.59, p > .05;

F (1,37) = 0.46, p > .05. Similarly, in grade 5, where 29.7% of the children were on free








Table 3-16. Proportion of Subjects on Free/ Reduced Lunch by Grade and Descriptive
Measures of their Spelling Performance.

Frequency Percent Mean Std. Median IQR
Dev.
Grade 2 .00 24 63.2 20.3 4.8 20.0 7.0
1.00 14 35.8 19.1 6.6 18.5 9.0

Grade 3 .00 27 58.7 22.3 4.8 23.0 5.0
1.00 19 41.3 18.3 5.7 17.0 8.0

Grade 4 .00 25 71.4 27.4 4.2 28.0 5.5
1.00 10 28.6 23.5 5.2 23.5 9.7

Grade 5 .00 26 70.3 27.1 4.1 28.0 3.0
1.00 11 29.7 25.6 5.3 25.0 8.0

All .00 102 65.4 24.3 5.3 25.5 7.2
Grades 1.00 54 34.6 20.9 6.4 21.0 9.2
.00 = paid lunch status; 1.00 = free/ reduced lunch status




Table 3-17. Effect of Lunch Status on Spelling Performance by Grade (Kruskal-Wallis
Test.)

Lunch N Mean Rank Chi-Square Df Asymp. Sig.
Grade 2 .00 24 20.56 .599 1 .439
1.00 14 17.68

Grade 3 .00 27 27.46 5.73 1 .017*
1.00 19 17.87

Grade 4 .00 25 20.10 3.70 1 .045*
1.00 10 12.75

Grade 5 .00 26 19.56 .23 1 .628
1.00 11 17.68

* Difference significant at p < .05








or reduced lunch, there was no statistically significant difference in spelling performance

between the two groups, X2(l, 36) = 0.23, p > .05; F (1, 36) = 0.81, p > .05 (Tables 3-17

and 3-18).



Table 3-18. Effect of Lunch Status on Spelling Performance by Grade (ANOVA.)

Sum of Df Mean Square F Sig.
Squares
Grade 2 Bet Groups 14.08 1 14.08 .46 .500
Within Groups 1090.26 36 30.28
Total 1104.34 37

Grade 3 Bet Groups 184.75 1 184.75 6.86 .012*
Within Groups 1185.68 44 26.95
Total 1370.43 45

Grade 4 Bet Groups 110.88 1 110.88 5.33 .027*
Within Groups 686.66 33 20.81
Total 797.54 34

Grade 5 Bet Groups 16.04 1 16.04 .81 .374
Within Groups 692.39 35 19.78
Total 708.43 36
* Difference significant at p < .05



Descriptive measures also showed that subjects on free or reduced lunch status

consistently obtained lower scores on the three subtests of the ESRT, the PA-Only, the

Ortho-Only, and the PA + Ortho, relative to their peers who were not on free or reduced

lunch (Table 3-19). Regardless of SES, scores on the Ortho-Only spelling pattern were

generally lower than on the PA-Only and the PA + Ortho spelling patterns in all four

grades.








Table 3-19. Descriptive Measures of Performance on three Spelling Patterns by Grade
and SES.

PA-Only Ortho-Only PA + Ortho
Mean Median Mean Median Mean Median
(SD) (IQR) (SD) (IQR) (SD) (IQR)

Grade 2 .00 7.46 7.5 4.86 5.0 5.41 5.4
(1.3) (2.5) (1.7) (1.6) (1.73) (3.1)
1.00 7.21 7.5 4.58 3.75 4.95 5.0
(1.8) (1.75) (2.3) (3.5) (2.15) (4.2)

Grade 3 .00 8.03 8.00 5.63 5.80 5.87 6.20
(1.6) (2.0) (1.50) (1.70) (1.79) (1.50)
1.00 7.21 7.00 4.24 4.20 4.69 4.60
(1.68) (2.00) (2.20) (2.50) (1.95) (3.10)

Grade 4 .00 9.00 9.00 7.24 7.50 7.47 7.70
(1.38) (1.00) (1.73) (2.50) (1.55) (2.30)
1.00 7.90 8.00 6.35 6.70 6.16 5.80
(1.59) (3.25) (1.97) (2.90) (1.63) (3.10)

Grade 5 .00 9.11 9.00 7.44 7.50 7.21 7.70
(1.07) (1.25) (1.68) (1.82) (1.36) (2.30)
1.00 8.72 9.00 6.28 5.80 7.05 7.30
(1.01) (2.00) (2.59) (3.30) (1.78) (2.30)

00 = paid lunch status; 1.00 = free or reduced lunch status



Hypothesis Derived from Exploration Data

Based on the results of the data exploration, the following hypothesis were

formulated:

1. A significant improvement in spelling performance occurs between a) grades 2
and 4, b) grades 2 and 5, c) grades 3 and 4, and d) grades 3 and 5.


2. Within each grade, children obtain the highest score on words of the PA-Only
spelling pattern and the lowest score on words of the Ortho-Only spelling pattern.








3. Within each grade, there is a significant difference in the spelling performance
between a) words of the PA-Only pattern and Ortho-Only pattern, and b) words of
the PA-Only pattern and PA + Ortho pattern.


4. In spelling words of the PA-Only, the Ortho-Only and the PA + Ortho patterns
respectively, there is a significant improvement between a) grades 2 and 4, b)
grades 2 and 5, c) grades 3 and 4, and d) grades 3 and 5.


5. The most frequent phonemic spelling errors in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5 include (a)
representation of the long or short vowel by the letter and (b) spelling vowel
digraphs.


6. The most frequent orthographic spelling errors in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5 include (a)
the rule-based selection of consonant combinations like -tch/-ch, -dge/ge and -
ck/k, and (b) the understanding that a suffix may have several phonetic forms
which, based on rules, may or may not require changes in spelling forms.


7. SES, determined by lunch status, has a significant effect on overall spelling
performance. However, this effect is not consistent across all four grades.



Hypothesis Testing Data

Data from the three schools not included in the Data Exploration were combined and

analyzed to verify the hypotheses formulated from the findings of the Data Exploration.

Patterns of spelling acquisition in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5 were examined using the same

statistical methods applied in the Data Exploration section. The number of subjects in

each grade was unequal: there were 44 subjects in grade 2, 93 subjects in grade 3, 58

subjects in grade 4, and 43 subjects in grade 5.

Grade Performance on the Spelling Recognition Test

The distribution of scores in each grade for the mean, median, standard deviation

and interquartile range (IQR) is shown below in Table 3-20. In each of the four grades,

the mean and the median of the total test scores were dissimilar yet relatively close in








value. In each of the grades 2, 4, and 5 respectively, the mean total test score was

consistently lower than the median (x = 22.5, M = 23.0 for grade 2; x = 23.8, M = 24.5

for grade 4; x = 26.9, M = 28 for grade 5), suggesting that the distribution of total test

scores in each grade is negatively skewed. In grade 3, the mean (22.6) was higher than

the median (22.0), suggesting that the distribution of total test scores is positively

skewed.

Box-n-dot plots were also drawn for each grade independently (Figure 3-2) in order

to identify scores that fell below the 25f" quartile and above the 75th quartile. In grade 2,

six scores fell below the 25b quartile while eleven scores fell above the 75"h quartile. In

grade 3, twenty-two scores fell below the 25t" quartile and twenty-two scores fell above

the 75" quartile. Among the twenty-two scores that fell below the 25d" quartile, four were

outliers. These outliers fell below the lower boundary of the IQR and were at least 1.5

standard deviations below the mean score obtained in grade 3. In grade 4, ten scores fell

below the 25" quartile and eighteen scores fell above the 75"' quartile. Among the ten

scores that fell below the 25"' quartile, there was one outlier with a score that fell below

the lower boundary of the IQR. In grade 5, there were nine scores that fell below the 25d'

quartile and eight scores that fell above the 75"' quartile. Among the nine scores that fell

below the 25"' quartile, two were outliers with scores that fell below the lower boundary

of the IQR


Table 3-20. Distribution of Total ESRT Scores by Grade.

Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5
N 44 93 58 43
Mean 22.5 22.6 23.8 26.9
Std. Deviation 3.5 5.2 5.4 4.4
Median 23.0 22.0 24.5 28.0
IQR 5.75 6.0 7.25 5.0








Spelling Performance across Grades

Mean and median total test scores showed that spelling performance on the ESRT

improved from grade 2 through grade 5 (Table 3-20). This improvement across grades

was supported by a statistically significant Kruskal-Wallis test statistic, X (3, 237) = 32.2,

p < .05 as well as a one way analysis of variance (ANOVA), F (3, 237) = 11.2, p <.05

(Tables 3-21 and 3-22).



Table 3-21. Kruskal-Wallis Test Statistics for Spelling Performance across Grades.

Grade N Mean Rank Chi-Square Df Asymp. Sig.
2.00 44 63.1 32.2 3 .000*
3.00 93 78.3
4.00 48 98.1
5.00 43 129.8
* Difference significant at p < .05



Table 3-22. ANOVA for Spelling Performance across Grades.

Sum of Squares Df Mean Square F Sig.
Between Groups 567.5 3 189.2 11.2 .000*
Within Groups 2862.5 234 16.8
Total 3429.9 237
* Difference significant at p < .05



Fisher's least significant difference (LSD) post hoc comparisons indicated a

statistically significant improvement in spelling performance between grades 2 and 4,

grades 2 and 5, grades 3 and 4, grades 3 and 5 and grades 4 and 5. No statistically

significant improvement in spelling performance occurred between grades 2 and 3 (Table

3-23). This finding differs slightly from the results of the data exploration where no



















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W 20 r (7)
r (6) (18) 3
0 0139-00
C (9)
(0 019300


I-- 051o00
0178.00
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l-- 0,-4 1
N= 44 93 56 43
200 300 400 500


GRADE

Figure 3-2. Box-n-Dot Plots for Total ESRT Scores by Grade.
Note: Box-n-dot plots show the distribution of scores relative to the median score. The
bold line inside the box represents the median score for each of the grades and (x) inside
the box represents the mean score for each of the grades. The upper border of the box
represents the 75th quartile while the lower border represents the 25L' quartile. The
horizontal lines extending above and below the box respectively show the IQR, that is,
half the range of scores that fall between the two quartiles. The horizontal line below the
25th quartile is equivalent to the 7' percentile. The horizontal line above the 75th quartile
is equivalent to the 93"' percentile. Both boundaries represent 1-5 standard deviations
from the mean. Numbers in parentheses represent the number of scores that fell below
the 25'h quartile or above the 75h quartile. Empty circles represent outliers, which are
scores greater than 1.5 SD above and below the mean respectively.








significant difference in spelling performance was noted between grades 4 and 5, a

discrepancy that could result from the nature of the data samples in each set.


Table 3-23. Multiple Comparisons and LSD between Grades on Total Test Scores.

GRADE GRADE Mean Difference Std. Error Sig.
2.00 3.00 -1.18 .16 .155
4.00 -2.89* .93 .002
5.00 -5.54* 1.03 .000

3.00 2.00 1.18 .83 .155
4.00 -1.70* .81 .038
5.00 -4.35* .93 .000

4.00 2.00 2.89* .93 .002
3.00 1.70* .81 .038
5.00 -2.65* 1.02 .010

5.00 2.00 5.54* 1.03 .000
3.00 4.35* .93 .000
4.00 2.65* 1.02 .010
Mean difference significant at p < .05


Between-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns

Performance on each of the three error patterns, PA-Only, Ortho-Only, and PA +

Ortho, improved from grades 2 to 5, as depicted by mean and median scores (Table 3-

24). This improvement was supported by a statistically significant difference on each of

the three spelling patterns across the four grades (Tables 3-25 and 3-26).

Fisher's LSD post-hoc analyses showed that in spelling words of the PA only type,

there was a significant difference between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5, grades 3 and 4

and grades 3 and 5. No significant difference for spelling word types occurred between

grades 2 and 3 and grades 4 and 5. These findings are similar to the findings of the

exploration data (Table 3-37).








Table 3-24. Descriptive Measures on Three Spelling Patterns by Grade.

PA-Only Ortho-Only PA + Ortho
Grade 2 N 44 44 44
Median (1QR) 9.0(2.0) 5.4(1.6) 5.8 (2.3)
Mean (std. Dev.) 8.4(1.6) 5.5 (1.5) 5.8(1.6)

Grade 3 N 93 93 93
Median (IQR) 8.0(2.0) 5.8(2.5) 6.2(3.1)
Mean (std. Dev.) 8.1 (1.6) 6.0(1.8) 6.4(1 6)

Grade 4 N 58 58 58
Median (IQR) 9.0(3.0) 5.8 (2.5) 6.2 (2.3)
Mean (std. Dev.) 8.9(1.4) 6.6(1.4) 6.8 (1.7)

Grade 5 N 43 43 43
Median (IQR) 9.0(1.0) 7.5 (2.7) 7.7(2.3)
Mean (std. Dev.) 9.3 (.9) 7.3 (1.6) 7.7 (1.3)



Table 3-25. Relationship of Performance on Each Spelling Pattern between Grades -
Kruskal-Wallis Test.

PA only Ortho only PA + Ortho
Chi-Square 16.04 14.18 27.05
Df 3 3 3
Asymp. Sig. .001* .003* .000*
* Difference significant at p < .05


Fisher's LSD post-hoc analyses showed that in spelling words of the Ortho-Only

type, there was a significant difference between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5, grades 3

and 4 and grades 3 and 5. No significant difference for spelling word type occurred

between grades 2 and 3 and grades 4 and 5 (Table 3-28).

Fisher's LSD post-hoc analyses showed that in spelling words of the PA + Ortho

type, there was a significant difference between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5, grades 3

and 4 and grades 4 and 5 (Table 3-29).








Table 3-26. Relationship of Performance on Each Spelling Pattern between Grades -
ANOVA.

Sum of Df Mean Square F Sig.
Squares
PA-Only
Between Groups 34.29 3 11.431 5.186 .002*
Within Groups 374.74 234 2.204
Total 409.03 237

Ortho-Only
Between Groups 42.09 3 14.029 5.257 .002*
Within Groups 282.89 234 2.669
Total 324.98 237

PA + Ortho
Between Groups 79.09 3 26.362 10.472 .000*
Within Groups 427.94 234 2.517
Total 507.02 237
Difference in performance significant at p < .05



Table 3-27. Between-Grade Multiple Comparisons of Performance on PA-Only Words

Grade Grade Mean Difference Std. Error Sig.
2.00 3.00 -.3051 .300 .310
4.00 -.5190* .336 .041
5,00 -.8752* .374 .020

3.00 2.00 -.3051 .300 .310
4.00 -.8091* .295 .007
5.00 -1.1804* .337 .001

4.00 2.00 .5190* .336 .041
3.00 .8091* .295 .007
5.00 -.3713 .370 .317

5.00 2.00 .8752* .374 .020
3.00 1.1804* .337 .001
4.00 .3713 .370 .317
Significant difference at p < .05








Table 3-28. Between-Grade Multiple Comparisons of Performance on Ortho-Only
Words.

Grade Grade Mean Difference Std. Error Sig.
2.00 3.00 -5.5163 .411 893
4.00 -.9240* .442 .039
5.00 -1.8540* .574 .002

3.00 2.00 5.5160 .411 .893
4.00 -.8688* .389 .027
5.00 -1.7988* .533 .001

4.00 2.00 .9240* .442 .039
3.00 .8688* .389 .027
5.00 -.9300 .558 .099

5.00 2.00 1.8540* .574 .002
3.00 1.7988* .533 .001
4.00 .9300 .558 .099
Difference significant at p < .05



Table 3-29. Between-Grade Multiple Comparisons of Performance on PA + Ortho
Words.

Grade Grade Mean Difference Std. Error Sig.
2.00 3.00 -.3990 .321 .103
4.00 -1.2624* .359 .001
5.00 -2.1807* .399 .000

3.00 2.00 .3990 .321 .103
4.00 -.8842* .315 .000
5.00 -1.2841* .360 .000

4.00 2.00 1.2624* .359 .001
3.00 .8842* .315 .000
5.00 -.4272 .395 .111

5.00 2.00 2.1807* .399 .000
3.00 1.2841* .360 .000
4.00 .4272 .395 .111
* Difference significant at p < .05








Within-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns

Mean and median scores obtained on each of the three spelling error patterns, PA-

Only, Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho, showed a pattern of difficulty in spelling performance

across all four grades (Table 3-24). All grades performed best on the PA-Only type of

words and most poorly on the Ortho-Only type of words. Scores on the PA + Ortho type

of words were consistently lower than on the PA-Only type of words but slightly higher

than on the Ortho-Only type of words.

Within each grade, performance on the three spelling error patterns showed a

statistically significant difference for grade 2 (X'(2, 130) = 47.9, p < .05), grade 3 (X2(2,

277) = 50.4, p < .05), grade 4 (X2 (2, 172) = 51.4, p < .05), and grade 5 (2 (2, 127) = 35.2,

p < .05). Both the Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test and the Paired Samples T-test showed

that for each of the four grades, a significant difference occurred between the spelling

performance of a) PA-Only and Ortho-Only type of words and b) PA-Only and PA +

Ortho type of words. In grades 4 and 5, no statistically significant difference in scores

occurred between the two error types Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho. In grade 2, there was

a statistically significant difference between the error types Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho.

Contrary to the findings of the data exploration, in grade 3 also, a significant difference

occurred between the error types Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho when data were analyzed

using the parametric paired samples test. On the other hand, the nonparametric Wilcoxon

signed ranks test failed to identify a significant difference between the Ortho-Only and

PA + Ortho error types in grade 3 (Table 3-30).








Table 3-30. Differences between Spelling Patterns in each Grade: Wilcoxon Signed
Ranks Test and Paired Samples Test.

Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test Paired Samples Test
Grade Pairs Mean Z Asymp. Mean (std. T Df Sig.
Rank Sig. Dev.)
2 1 20.07 -4.82 .000* 2.6 (2.1) 7.45 43 .000*
2 21.58 -4.96 .000* 2.9 (2.0) 8.60 43 .000*
3 19.83 -1.24 .214 .3(2.0) .90 43 .374

3 1 36.25 -6.00 .000* 2.1 (2.2) 7.98 92 .000*
2 38.09 -5.53 .000* 1.7 (2.0) 6.80 92 .000*
3 36.40 -1.56 .118 -.4 (1.7) -2.10 92 .039*

4 1 22.94 -5.29 .000* 2.4 (1.6) 9.45 57 .000*
2 21.85 -5.06 .000* 2.1 (1.6) 8.05 57 .000*
3 23.17 -.84 .400 -.25(1.6) -1.02 57 .312

5 1 15.61 -4.09 .000* 1.9(1.6) 6.38 42 .000*
2 13.50 -4.36 .000* 1.6(1.3) 6.42 42 .000*
3 12.23 -1.04 .297 -4.0(1.9) -1.09 42 .284

Pair 1 = PA-Only Ortho-Only
Pair 2 = PA-Only PA + Ortho
Pair 3 = Ortho-Only PA + Ortho
Paired difference significant at p < .05


Most Frequently Occurring Spelling Errors Between and Within Grades

A list of specific phonemic and orthographic spelling errors was created from the

targets included in the ESRT (Table 3-13). The frequency of occurrence of these spelling

errors was counted for grades 2, 3, 4, and 5. The number of errors was then converted

into a percentage of the total number of possible errors for each error type by grade

(Tables 3-31 and 3-32). In all four grades, the highest number of phonemic errors

occurred on spelling the long and short vowel represented by the letter . For

example, a common error occurred on the word "zuleps" where the long vowel sound in

the first open syllable was represented with the letter sequence . Similarly, the




Full Text
THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHONEMIC AND ORTHOGRAPHIC SPELLING
PATTERNS: A METHOD FOR ASSESSING SPELLING KNOWLEDGE
IN CHILDREN IN GRADES TWO THROUGH FIVE
By
SARAH T AHMED
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
2000

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Special acknowledgment is given to Dr. Linda Lombardino, who served as my
supervisory committee chair on this dissertation. Dr. Lombardino provided me with
constant support and encouragement throughout my four years as a graduate student at
the University of Florida. An outstanding mentor, she initiated me into the mysterious
realm of learning and research. I hope that, in the years to come, she will remember me
with joy and pride.
I would also like to acknowledge the other members of my supervisory committee—
Dr Patricia Kricos, Dr Geralyn Schulz, Dr. Bill Williams, and Dr Christiana Leonard—
for their support and invaluable guidance at every step of my studies.
Special thanks are extended to the staff and students at St. Patrick’s Interparish
School, P. K. Yonge Laboratory School, Glen Springs Elementary School, Metcalfe
Elementary School, Rawlings Elementary School, and Prairie View Elementary School.
This study would never have materialized without their cooperation and willingness to
participate.
I would like to extend thanks to all my colleagues and friends, living near and far,
for their words and deeds of love and kindness throughout my years in Gainesville
Last, but not least, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to my parents, my three
siblings and their families for their prayers and unswerving trust in me. May God, The
Merciful, The Compassionate, reward them with everlasting happiness!

TABLE OF CONTENTS
page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ii
ABSTRACT vi
CHAPTERS
1. INTRODUCTION AND REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE 1
Introduction 1
Review of the Literature 3
The Structure of English Orthography 3
Spelling Acquisition 9
Theories on the Process of Spelling 17
Phonological Processing as the Foundation for Learning to Spell 22
Schemes for Spelling Analysis 26
Dyslexia and Spelling 33
Implications of Socioeconomic Status on Literacy 40
Measures of Spelling Assessment 43
Statement of the Problem 48
The Need for this Research 48
Experimental Questions 50
2 METHODOLOGY 52
Subjects 52
Design of the Spelling Test 53
Experimental Stimuli 54
Procedure 57
Scoring 59
Data Reduction and Statistical Analysis 59
iii

Testing for Homogeneity of Samples 60
Testing for Normality of Test Score Distribution 61
3 RESULTS 68
Data Exploration 68
Grade Performance on the ESRT 69
Spelling Performance across Grades 70
Between-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns 73
Within-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns 76
Most Frequently Occurring Spelling Errors Between and Within
Grades on the ESRT 77
Effect of SES on Spelling Performance 80
Hypothesis Derived from Exploration Data 83
Hypothesis Testing Data 84
Grade Performance on the Spelling Recognition Test 84
Spelling Performance across Grades 86
Between-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns 88
Within-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns 92
Most Frequently Occurring Spelling Errors Between and Within
Grades 93
Effect of SES on Spelling Performance 96
Summary of Results 99
Combined Data Sets 100
Standardized ESRT Scores 100
Individual Profiles of Spelling Performance across Grades 101
4 DISCUSSION 107
Developmental Spelling Performance across Grades 108
Between-Grade Performance on Spelling Patterns 111
Within-Grade Performance on Spelling Patterns 115
Quantitative and Qualitative Evidence for the Amalgamation Theory 116
Individual Spelling Profiles and their Relationship to the
Amalgamation Theory 119
Design of the ESRT 120
Clinical Applications of the ESRT 125
Strengths and Limitations 127
Strengths 127
Limitations 128
Directions for Further Research 129
Summary and Conclusions 130
APPENDICES 132
iv

A PARENTAL INFORMED CONSENT FORM AND GROUP CHILD
ASSENT FORM 132
B EARLY SPELLING RECOGNITION TEST / EXAMINER’S FORM 135
C EARLY SPELLING RECOGNITION TEST / ANSWER FORM 138
REFERENCES 141
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 155
v

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHONEMIC AND ORTHOGRAPHIC SPELLING
PATTERNS: A METHOD FOR ASSESSING SPELLING KNOWLEDGE
IN CHILDREN IN GRADES TWO THROUGH FIVE
By
Sarah T. Ahmed
May 2000
Chair: Linda J. Lombardino
Major Department: Communication Sciences and Disorders
American English spelling is a complex process that involves integration of letter-
sound associations with morpho-phonemic and orthographic rule conventions. Current
theories on spelling acquisition propose that children initially rely on salient phonological
cues when writing a word. With exposure to print and formal instruction, children
systematically begin to incorporate rules of phonemic awareness and orthographic
knowledge into the spelling process. The development of spelling skills is of interest to
many professionals. The classroom teacher is interested in providing students with the
most beneficial learning environment. The speech-language pathologist is interested in
early identification of children at risk for spelling difficulties and the delivery of effective
intervention.
The purpose of this study was to examine the development of phonemic and
orthographic spelling patterns in U.S. elementary school grades. The Early Spelling
vi

Recognition Test (ESRT) was designed and administered to 390 children in grades 2
through 5. The ESRT consists of 35 mono- and bisyllabic nonwords and targets three
spelling patterns, phonemic decoding only (PA-Only), orthographic rule knowledge only
(Ortho-Only) and a combination of phonemic decoding and orthographic rule knowledge
in the same word (PA + Ortho).
The results of the study revealed clear developmental trends in all three spelling
patterns across the four grades. Spelling performance was examined in two independent
samples and results indicated similar behavior trends. A statistically significant
difference in spelling performance was noted between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5,
grades 3 and 4, and grades 3 and 5. Within each grade, a significant difference in
performance was noted between the PA-Only and the Ortho-Only spelling patterns and
the PA-Only and the PA + Ortho patterns. In support of the amalgamation theory of
spelling acquisition, children exhibited the ability to integrate phonemic and orthographic
rule knowledge as early as in grade 2, with systematic development of the concepts in the
next three grades. Of the three spelling patterns assessed, words requiring orthographic
rule knowledge were the most difficult, with spelling of morpho-phonemic variations
(e.g., the suffixes -s and -ed in different linguistic contexts) representing the highest
percentage of errors in all four grades.
vii

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION AND REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Introduction
English spelling is a complex process and continues to pose problems even to the
average literate adult. According to the Wide Range Achievement Test-3 (WRAT-3)
normative tables (Jastak and Wilkinson, 1993), the average adult with a high school
education spells at the eighth grade level. Individuals with language-related learning
disabilities make even less progress with spelling despite the advantages of an
appropriate education, average to high IQ, and high socioeconomic status (Moats, 1995).
Several explanations have been suggested to justify the complexity inherent in the
process of spelling. First, English spelling, which requires mapping a phoneme (sound)
onto a conventional grapheme (letter or group of letters), is complicated by the fact that
there are approximately 70 graphemes relative to only 40 phonemes. This means that the
same sound can be represented by more than one letter combination. Second, the
structure of English spelling is influenced by phonological, morphological, syntactic and
semantic factors. It is one’s knowledge of the language that allows the speller to
associate words from the same semantic family (e g., magic, magical, and magician), or
to unravel the spelling mystery of homophones such as ‘their, there, and they’re.’
Current theories on spelling acquisition propose that children initially rely on
phonological cues when spelling words. Then, very quickly, they incorporate both
phonological awareness and orthographic knowledge into the spelling process when
1

2
exposed to print and formal instruction. As a result, familiar words are spelled from
memory and semantic association while new words are encoded by phonological
analysis.
For a long time, research and pedagogic communities viewed spelling as a visual
process of rote memorization. Poor spellers were invariably labeled as lazy or
incompetent, and struggled with spelling failure throughout their lives. Attitudes
changed only recently with the discovery that spelling is a language-based process and
difficulties with spelling result in many instances from a core deficit in phonological
awareness. With this paradigm for studying spelling, research has focused on the process
of spelling acquisition in young children, its relationship to dimensions of language
development, and the oral and written language characteristics of individuals with a
spelling disability. The integrity of spelling instruction techniques and spelling
assessment tasks has been investigated in the light of spelling as a language-based
process. Contrary to expectations, learning to spell is a challenging task for the student.
Equally challenging for the researcher in spelling is the goal to understand the process of
spelling, the reasons some students face difficulties in learning to spell, and the
development of reliable and sensitive assessment and instructional techniques.
The purpose of this study was to examine developmental spelling trends across
elementary grades 2,3,4, and 5. A secondary goal of the study was to develop a quick,
yet comprehensive spelling assessment procedure that will help to identify children with
significant problems in spelling and to provide direction for appropriate intervention
goals. The following review examines spelling as a language-based process, how its
structure lends to the complexity of English spelling, how children normally acquire and
master spelling skills, and, finally, what characteristics serve to discriminate good and

3
poor spellers. A review of existing assessment tools will serve to highlight the need for
clinically reliable spelling assessment and therapy techniques
Review of the Literature
The Structure of English Orthography
Orthography is the writing, or spelling, system of a language. More specifically, it
describes both the implicit and explicit rules a language employs to establish sound-to-
letter correspondences and their interplay with different syllable patterns. The English
writing system is based on an alphabetic code in which each letter of the alphabet
represents a speech sound. In theory, such an alphabetic writing system models a “bi¬
unique” relationship so that a given letter corresponds to one and only one sound
(Carney, 1994). Furthermore, this sound is not symbolized by any other letter.
Unfortunately, the English spelling system fails to comply with this simple theoretical
construct. We are all well aware, from our daily writing experiences, that one letter may
represent different sounds as illustrated by the following set of words: (a) gate -> /gelt/,
(b) gender -> /d36nddr/, and (c) beige -> /bei3/. The letter symbolizes the three
sounds /g/, /dz/ and /3 /, respectively. Conversely, one sound may be represented by
different letters. For example, the sound Ifl is written with the letter in “fish,”
in “photo,” and in ‘laughter.”
A major issue in any study on the structure of English orthography concerns the
extent to which the system is regular and predictable. Since the era of spelling reforms
which first took impetus in the 17th century, the English orthographic system has been
notoriously criticized for its unpredictable inconsistencies (Follick, 1965; Sampson,
1985; Upward, 1988). Concerns for a unified English orthography eventually reached

4
such a peak that the eminent British playwright and critic, G. B. Shaw, bequeathed part of
his fortune to the cause of spelling reform (Balmuth, 1982)! However, serious research
into the nature of the English spelling system did not begin until the 1960s with
educators’ attempts to revise and modernize curricula for reading and spelling instruction
in the public schools. Research was largely influenced by the foundations of
transformational generative linguistics. English orthography was consequently viewed as
a layered structure with deep and surface representations. The components of spoken
language, that is phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics, were
recruited to explain the irregularities found in spelling forms
Current literature describes English orthography as a structured and predictable
system in which spellings for phonemes, syllables, and morphemes are determined by the
three major factors of (1) rule-governed sound-to-letter correspondences (Hanna, Hanna,
Hodges, & Rudorf, 1966; Hanna, Hodges, & Hanna, 1971; Venezky, 1970), (2) morpho-
phonemic rules (Carney, 1994; Chomsky & Halle, 1968; Moats & Smith, 1992), and (3)
word semantics (Chomsky, 1970; Henry, 1988). A fourth factor, etymology (also known
as the study of word origins), contributes to some extent towards an understanding of
contemporary American and British English spelling patterns (Henry, 1988).
Sound-letter correspondences
According to a computer analysis on the predictability of English spellings by
Hanna and colleagues (1966), almost one half of the words in English can be spelled
accurately on the basis of sound-to-letter correspondences, while another 37% can be
spelled with one error. The computer analysis also accounted for the fact that many
spelling structures are governed by contextual phonetic constraints. As an example, a
vowel letter such as represents either a long or a short vowel depending on the

5
syllabic structure in which it occurs. Thus, the letter
corresponds to the long vowel
/el/ in the initial open syllable of the word “table,” but the short vowel /¡e/ in the closed
syllable “crab.” Such rules, which predict text-to-sound forms, are termed orthographic
rules. Venezky (1970), and more recently, Carney (1994, 1997) performed an in-depth
analysis of text-to-speech correspondences and organized their findings into sets of rules.
A subset of orthographic rules, referred to as “graphotactic rules” (Carney, 1997), serves
to restrict possible letter sequences. For example, words ending in take a final
as in “have, love, move.” Also, the letter is always accompanied by a , as in
“queen, quantity .” Another subset of orthographic rules, known as “reference rules”,
determines spelling variants within a context. For example, the long vowel N is spelled
, as in “field,” except after the letter where it is spelled , as in “receive.”
These reference rules, when applied to underlying forms, can predict the spellings of both
vowel alternations found in word pairs like “divine - divinity” and consonant variations
as in “sign - signature.”
Moroho-phonemic rules
A large part of the English vocabulary is derived from morphological rules applied
to root or stem words. The spelling of these derived words is determined largely by
morphological transformations that are applied to a common root or stem. In this way, the
words “please, pleases, pleased, pleasant, pleasurable, displeasing” all belong to the same
family of the stem word “to please”; they all exhibit a common underlying spelling
structure despite variant phonetic representations.
Morphological rules allow the derivation of related words by combining suffixes and
prefixes to roots and stems. Spelling structure and pronunciation are in synchrony when
neutral suffixes such as “-¡ble” or “-y” are affixed to a stem (e g, “visible, wisely”) since

6
the stress pattern and the vowel quality of the derived word remains unchanged (Tyler
and Nagy, 1987). Many suffixes, however, are non-neutral because they entail a shift in
the pronunciation of the base word even though the spelling of both base and derived
words remains the same. Such an influence of morphology on spelling is well illustrated
by the phonetic variations of the suffix “-s” which marks either the plural or the 3rd
person singular present tense Depending on the phonetic context of the stem, the suffix
is pronounced as /s/ (e g., “books, likes”), or Izl (e g., “pens, buys”) although its spelling
remains consistent. Other examples include variations in vowel quality, as in the word
pair “anxious - anxiety .” The morpho-phonemic structure of English orthography
consequently often presents a dilemna for spelling (Chomsky, 1970). Although a
consistent spelling of the roots of the words such as “medical, medicine, medicinal” may
be an advantage for reading, it is clearly a disadvantage for spelling. If the speller had no
knowledge of the root, the sounds in the derived words would be ambiguous for spelling
at a surface phonetic level. Similarly, in order to spell the ambiguous second vowel in
the word “confidential,” a speller should know that it is derived from “confide” and that
both words follow a regular vowel alternation pattern.
Word semantics
Knowing the underlying morpho-phonemic transformations is not always sufficient
to predict the correct spelling of a word. In English spelling, meaning often takes
precedence over sound because lexical roots and other morphemes are usually spelled
consistently despite pronunciation shifts between the base and the derived forms. In the
following pairs of words, “social - society” and “electrical - electricity,” the shifts in
consonant pronunciation provide misleading spelling cues. However, if the words are
associated with a common semantic and lexical form, the spelling of the consonants

7
becomes clear. Many derivational patterns involve predictable vowel shifts that are not
represented in spelling, as in the word pairs “serene - serenity” and “imagine -
imagination”. The chances of spelling such words correctly are higher if judgment is
based on the meaning of the root form and the derivational rules applied to it, rather than
phoneme-grapheme correspondences.
It is believed that both spoken and written words are remembered in relation to other
related words. Also, word meanings are thought to be coded within a network of a family
of words (Nagy et al., 1989). The links between these words consist of inflectional and
derivational relationships. When one word in the family is accessed, the other related
words are also activated for possible retrieval. Furthermore, Nagy and colleagues
demonstrated that connections between words in memory are not only dependent on letter
matching but more on meaning and the sharing of structural elements at the morphemic
level. This theoretical model suggests some important implications for the spelling of
homonyms such as “flour - flower,” “aloud - allowed,” and “kernel - colonel.”
Selection of the appropriate spelling can only be determined by contextual meaning
combined with previous knowledge of word meaning and spelling.
Word origins
Finally, word origins play a fairly significant role in determining the spelling
patterns of many words in English. Although the English writing system is largely based
on an alphabetic code, and the spelling of a high percentage of its lexicon can be
predicted by morpho-phonemic and orthographic rules, there are still many everyday
words with unpredictable spelling patterns. For instance, why is the orthographic rule of
violated in the words “rich, much, such, which”? Or, why is the final
doubled in “dress, lass, moss, watercress” but not in an overused word like “yes”? There

8
is no scientific explanation to these questions, and some researchers (Hanna et al., 1966,
Hillerich, 1978) have classified such words as “exception” spelling words. Exception
words can only be learned by rote memorization of letter sequences. Henry (1988) on the
other hand, strongly believes that knowledge of word origins facilitates the learning of
exception spelling forms. Numerous historical forces have shaped the development of
written English, with Anglo-Saxon, Romance, and Greek languages playing a role in
establishing the present English lexicon, its pronunciation, and spelling. As described by
Venezky (1970), then categorized by Calfee and Drum (1986), words of Anglo-Saxon
origin do abide by basic letter-sound correspondences. These correspondences, however,
do not always parallel similar sound correspondences found in words of a different
origin. This phenomenon explains in part the occurrence of different letters to represent
the same sound. In this context, the / f/ sound in the Anglo-Saxon word “ship” is written
with a while the same sound is written with in “mission,” a word of Latin
origin. In the same light, words of Greek origin, which include mainly scientific terms,
are characterized by typical letter digraphs to represent a familiar sound. Consequently,
the If/ sound in the word “finger” is spelled with the letter but the same sound is
spelled with a in words such as “physics, photosynthesis, hemisphere.” The same
pattern is noted for the blend /kl/ which is spelled in Anglo-Saxon words like
“clean, class, clown,” but in words of Greek origin like “chlorophyll, chloroform,
chloroplasts.”
The examples cited above underline the complexity of English spelling which is
influenced by at least four linguistic factors. A word of caution, however, is necessary at
this point. English spelling is not an illogical system that transcends the limits of our
learning abilities. Proficiency in English spelling is a gradual process of learning and

9
requires an integrated knowledge of all four factors described in earlier sections of this
chapter. With the exception of basic, monosyllabic words, the spelling of most English
lexical items incorporates at least two concepts, that is, the application of sound-letter
correspondences, partially determined by word origins and phonetic context, and
orthographic or morphological rules. In addition, automaticity in spelling develops with
increasing exposure to the printed text, and confusions between spelling choices for
suffixes (e g., “-tion or -sion”?) and r-controlled vowels (e g, “-ir, er, ur”?) are
eventually eliminated. The spelling of familiar and overused words becomes established
in memory whereas the spelling of novel words can be analyzed by analogy to words of
similar sound structure.
Spelling Acquisition
English spelling is a complex developmental process that has been studied by
analysis of children’s naturalistic writing attempts (Bissex, 1980; Gentry, 1982; Read,
1975; 1986; Treiman, 1993) as well as experimental data (Treiman, 1985a; 1985b; 1985c;
1991; 1994; Treiman, Berch, Tincoff, & Weatherston, 1993; Treiman, Cassar, &
Zukowski, 1994; Treiman, Zukowski, & Richmond-Welty, 1995). According to these
studies, spelling is a continuous process of learning and consequently, it develops in a
broadly predictable sequence of stages between kindergarten and second grade. These
stages of spelling development have been described in several ways. The following
discussion will trace the development of Ehri’s model of spelling acquisition (1993)
which emphasizes the link between speech processing and writing.
In a pioneering study, Read (1975) analyzed the spellings of precocious preschoolers
and suggested that the acquisition of spelling is a creative process similar to the learning
of speech. In his analysis, he found that children spell primarily by trying to symbolize

10
the sounds in words rather than by trying to reproduce memorized strings of letters.
Henderson and Beers (1980) applied Read’s analytical framework to first graders’
invented spellings and concluded that first graders use the same spelling strategies
observed in Read’s preschoolers. Based on a categorization of spelling strategies, the
researchers proposed three general stages of spelling development: (1) a pre-reading
stage, in which children spell by combining letters and numbers randomly, without
making any sound-symbol correspondences; (2) a letter-name stage, in which children
spell by segmenting the word into sounds and then selecting alphabet letters that contain
those sounds in their names; and (3) a transitional stage, in which children exhibit an
emerging awareness that English orthography is not a fixed one-to-one, sound-symbol
writing code. Based on Bissex’s (1980) case study of spelling development “GNYS AT
WRK” and Henderson and Beers’ (1980) general scheme for stages of spelling
acquisition, Gentry (1982) posited five stages of spelling development - pre-
communicative, semi-phonetic, phonetic, transitional, and correct. These stages reflect
the growth of spelling skills exhibited by a child who moves from the earliest attempts at
writing to the use of conventional spelling forms.
Most recently, Ehri (1991, 1992a, 1993) incorporated components of all previous
spelling stage models and proposed a revised four-stage model of spelling acquisition that
reflects relationships between orthographic, phonological and morphological units
observed in children’s invented spellings. Ehri’s model stresses the fact that English
orthography has strong phonological underpinnings and children handle the complexities
of the writing system by devising strategies. These strategies, often creative in nature,
define the different stages since they reflect the writer’s knowledge of phoneme-
grapheme relationships, orthographic constraints, and grammatical rules such as

11
affixation and stress patterns. Furthermore, as knowledge of conventional spelling
patterns increases through refinement of phonemic awareness, knowledge of the syntactic
and semantic structure of the language and general exposure to print, early spelling
strategies become suppressed and new strategies emerge to deal with more complex
structures. Although some studies have criticized the validity of stage models as
representative of the normal process of learning to spell (Vamhagen, McCallum, &
Burstow, 1997), Ehri’s model of spelling acquisition provides a sound longitudinal
guideline to children’s expected performance in spelling tasks (Henderson, 1990).
In Ehri’s four-stage model of spelling acquisition, each stage is characterized, and
named, according to the predominant strategies used during that period of acquisition.
During the first stage, called the pre-communicative, or pre-phonetic stage, children
produce scribbles, consisting of randomly selected letters and numbers, to represent
words or sentences. Letters do not correspond to sounds and are not differentiated from
numbers. Thus, tocáis spelled as

and muffin as (Ehri, 1993). In many
instances, the written forms of words are meant to represent their meanings such that
whale is spelled with more letters than the names of small objects like mosquito
(Lundberg and Tomeus, 1978). The pre-phonetic stage begins very early, as soon as a
child realizes that his speech can be transcribed into a written form.
In the next stage, called semi-phonetic, children learn the names and sounds of the
alphabet letters, and attempt to use this knowledge when selecting letters for their
spellings. Initially, children record only one or two letters corresponding to sounds,
usually occurring in word-initial and final positions. Examples of semi-phonetic
spellings take the form of for pickle, for road, and for feet
(Lombardino, Bedford, Fortier, Carter, & Brandi, 1998). Letter name strategies play a

12
prominent role in the selection of letters representing a speech sound. As shown by the
above examples, this strategy often yields fairly accurate phonetic representations of a
word. However, the names of a few English letters are misleading guides to sound and
may suggest the wrong spellings. For example, the phoneme /w/ occurs in the name of
the letter but /w/ is never spelled as in English. Kindergarteners and
preschoolers studied by Treiman, Weatherston and Berch (1994) spelled /w/ with a ,
producing spellings such as for went and for wife. Similarly, the affricate
/tf/ is heard in the letter name (pronounced as /eitf), thus explaining the spelling
for the word chin.
The semi-phonetic stage is characterized by syllabic representations of salient
consonants and vowels, with strong reliance on letter name strategies. An example of
children’s attempts to represent units of syllables rather than individual phonemes is aptly
illustrated in the spelling of final consonant clusters. At this stage, children often fail to
represent the first consonants of clusters. These omissions occur for a variety of
consonants, but especially for nasals like the /n/ of drink (spelled ) and the
liquids /r/ and /l/ as in warm (spelled ) and cold (spelled ) (Read, 1986;
Treiman, 1993, Treiman, Zukowski, & Richmond-Welty, 1995). These errors arise
because children consider the consonant cluster as one single sound unit and therefore,
represent it with one letter only (Treiman, 1997a).
The reduction of initial consonant clusters forms another case in which children
group together separate phonemes. Children often omit the second and third consonants
in clusters, spelling play and street (Bruck & Treiman, 1990; Treiman,
1985). Children consider the spoken word play to contain the initial consonant unit /pi/
followed by a vowel. Consequently, they symbolize the onset of the syllable with a

13
single letter rather than analyzing it into two separate phonemes and representing each
phoneme with a letter symbol.
Finally, children’s tendency to use units larger than single phonemes when relating
speech into print is reflected in their use of consonant letters whose names (e g., says
/el/) are similar to the sounds in the word, or part of the word. Examples include
for farmer, for elephant, and for bumblebees
(Treiman, 1997a, Treiman & Tincoff, 1997). The first of apparently
stands for both the vowel and the liquid sounds, which, when combined, constitute the
name of the letter . A similar explanation holds for the spellings of the other two
words. Such errors seem to be more common for the consonants and because
of the close similarity between the pronunciations of their alphabet names and the vowel-
liquid syllable. In particular, children substitute a single letter for the /si/ and /ar/
syllables, as opposed to the /al/ and /er/ syllables. In other words, it is more likely that a
child will spell the word bell as than ball as because in the first example,
there is a stronger phonological association between the vowel /e/ and the following
liquid /l/. Given this fact, and given the close link that children in the semi-phonetic
stage form between the syllable /el/ and the name of the letter , the word bell is
spelled . In contrast, the /a/ and HI in ball do not form such a strong unit and
children tend to divide the syllable rime into a separate vowel followed by a consonant
(Treiman, 1993, 1994).
The third stage, called phonetic, appears when children learn to segment words into
constituent sounds and to select a letter for every sound. Examples of phonetic spellings
are for quick and for back. In order to produce phonetic spellings,

14
beginners need to know that a syllable in English necessarily consists of a vowel.
Beginning writers therefore need to know how to symbolize vowels. At the phonetic
stage, children tend to use their knowledge of alphabet letter names creatively to derive
short vowel spellings from the letter name articulated in a similar position. For example,
Isl is derived from
, IV is derived from , and /U/ is derived from <0>. Long
vowels are represented with one letter with the same name. Diphthongs and back vowels
are often spelled creatively, such as for pile, for boy, and for
boat
The phonetic spelling stage is driven by an awareness of fine-grained articulatory
phonetic detail that is not symbolized in conventional spelling. Such is the explanation
for the affrication on the initial blends

-> /©/ digraph
Plurish
PA Only
#pl- blend; digraph
Swother
PA Only
#sw- blend;
/S/
digraph
Zatch
Ortho Only
rule
Quinch
PA + Ortho
digraph;
rule
Scrain
PA + Ortho
cluster;
diphthong rule
Rudge
Ortho Only
rule
Gar lank
PA + Ortho
Hard ; -nk# blend
Pindle
Ortho Only
Cons-le rule
Toof
PA Only
-> /u:/ digraph
Many hods
PA + Ortho
Short vowel in closed
syllable; plural -s -> Izl
They moaded
PA + Ortho
digraph; past tense -
ed /id/
Two feaches
PA + Ortho
digraph; plural -es
-> /iz/
Two tives
Ortho Only
<£> -> with plural
suffix
Two lastries
Ortho Only
-> with plural
suffix

57
Table 2-2. continued
Test Item
Spelling Pattern
Description
S/he vrays
Ortho Only
Diphthong with
suffix -s
S/he snies
Ortho Only
Diphthong + suffix -s
->
They ploiked
PA + Ortho
diphthong; past tense
-ed -> /t/
They glayed
PA + Ortho
diphthong; past tense
-ed-»/d/
They zocked
Ortho Only
rule; past tense -ed
->/t/
I was ffazing
Ortho Only
Drop silent -e with suffix
-ing
I was vapping
Ortho Only
Double consonant with
suffix -ing
I am gomping
PA + Ortho
-mp# blend; -ing suffix
without consonant
doubling
Two nashes
Ortho Only
Plural -es Idzl
Franceive
PA + Ortho
#fr- blend; digraph
before
Table 2-3. Sample of the Test Format
1. wem
warn
worn wim
5. yontrude
yuntrude
yentrude yuntrud
14. zach
zash
zah zatch
monosyllabic words, the remaining items are arranged without consideration of the level
of spelling difficulty. Thus, the three spelling patterns occur in a random order.
Procedure
The spelling test was administered as a one-time group activity to children from the
same grade. No more than 30 children were included in a group. The children were
seated either in rows or side by side around a large table in a quiet room within the

58
premises of the school. Individual test forms (cf. Appendix C) and pencils were
distributed to each child. Clear instructions were given, explaining the rules of the
activity. These included:
1) maintain silence;
2) don’t look at neighbors’ responses since all words are make-believe words with
no fixed spelling forms;
3) watch the examiner’s Ups.
If there were any questions, the children were instructed to raise their hands and the
examiner or her supervisor would come to help them. Furthermore, the children were
reassured that their performance on this spelling activity would in no way interfere with
their class grades.
The test was administered by the principal investigator and her supervisor. When
needed, a loudspeaker and microphone system was used to amplify the investigator’s
voice, gain the children’s attention and reduce external distractions. Before beginning the
actual test, two sample test items were Ulustrated as examples. In the actual test, each
item was read aloud twice with a 5-second interval between readings. Children were
instructed to listen to each word carefully, read aU four choices on their paper, then circle
the most appropriate spelling form. A maximum of 5 - 10 seconds was allowed to answer
each item. The investigator and her supervisor watched the children individually to
ensure that aU items were answered and that one choice only was selected for each item.
Complete administration of the test required 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the grade
and attention level of the group. Immediately following the test administration, all test
forms were checked; incomplete forms or those that exhibited a pattern of random answer

59
choice were discarded. From the entire pool of 400 data test forms, a total of eight were
discarded.
Scoring
Raw scores were computed for each test individually after the child’s name and
grade had been replaced by a code. Four scores were calculated: (1) a total raw score
consisting of the number of items correctly identified on the test; (2) a subscore
consisting of the number of PA-Only items correctly identified on the test, (3) a subscore
consisting of the number of Ortho-Only items correctly identified on the test; and (4) a
subscore consisting of the number of PA + Ortho items correctly identified on the test
Table 2-4 summarizes the breakdown of the raw scores for the three subdivisions and
the total items One point was awarded for each item. The three subscores, which were
of unequal weight, were converted to a possible total of 10 points to allow relative
comparison between the three spelling patterns.
Table 2-4. Distribution of Scores.
Spelling Test Stimuli
Number of Items Tested and
Ffighest Possible score
PA-Only
10
Ortho-Only
12 (converted to a scale of 10)
PA + Ortho
13 (converted to a scale of 10)
Total Test Score
35
Data Reduction and Statistical Analysis
The data were divided into two sample sets, each set consisting of the spelling scores
obtained by subjects from three randomly selected schools. One set of data was used for

60
data exploration, a statistical method that employs graphical and arithmetical procedures
to observe trends in data behavior, propose hypotheses based on these trends and support
these hypotheses by numerical testing (Rice, 1988). The second set of data was used to
retest the hypotheses proposed at the completion of data exploration and, in case of
agreement in findings, confirm the assumption that children from different schools within
the county exhibit similar patterns of spelling acquisition Since there was no evidence
that the data were normally distributed in either of the two sets, data analysis was
performed using nonparametric statistics, a method of analysis that does not assume
normal distribution of the sample. Data in both sets were also analyzed using parametric
statistics to compare the power of the two methods of analysis as well as to test if sample
size influences analysis results when the assumption of normality is violated
Testing for Homogeneity of Samples
The data in each sample set were first tested for homogeneity of variances, a
statistical procedure that allows the researcher to determine whether or not several
samples represent a subset of the same population. In this study, the grade performance
on the Early Spelling Recognition Test was tested for homogeneity across schools by
comparing data observations from one grade and one school with data observations of the
same grade at other participating schools. For example, the sample of scores obtained by
grade 2 in school 1 was compared to the sample of scores obtained by grade 2 in school 3
and school 6. The same procedure was repeated for grades 3, 4, and 5 respectively for
the two sample sets of data observations. Results of a one-way analysis of variance
(ANOVA) indicated no significant difference (p > 0.05) when performance in the same
grades at different schools, was compared (Tables 2-5 and 2-6). Similar findings of no
statistically significant difference were found when the Kruskal-Wallis test, a non-

61
parametric measure parallel to the one-way ANOVA, was performed on the same two
data sets (Tables 2-7 and 2-8). Based on these findings for positive homogeneity of
variances, ail subsequent data analyses were performed on samples in which data
observations were pooled from the three schools randomly selected for the data
exploration and the hypothesis testing sample sets respectively.
Table 2-5. Homogeneity of Samples by Grade (2-5) and School (1, 3, and 6) - Data
Exploration Set
Sum of
Squares
Df
Mean
Square
F
Sig.
GRADE 2
Between Groups
154.490
2
77.245
2.846
.072
Within Groups
949,852
35
27.139
Total
1104.342
37
GRADE 3
Between Groups
8.297
2
4.149
.131
.878
Within Groups
1362.137
43
31.678
Total
1370.435
45
GRADE 4
Between Groups
150.870
2
75.435
3.733
.085
Within Groups
646.673
32
20.209
Total
797.534
34
GRADE 5
Between Groups
5.859
2
2.930
.142
.868
Within Groups
702.573
34
20.664
Total
708.432
36
Statistical significance at p < .05
Testing for Normality of Test Score Distribution
As a general rule, statistical tests are based on the assumption that the data under
study are normally distributed. If this basic assumption is violated, the statistical test
loses its power, and test results are neither valid nor rehable. Nevertheless, when the

62
normality assumption is not met, data can be analyzed using nonparametric tests (Sprent,
1989).
Table 2-6. Homogeneity of Samples by Grade (2-5) and School (2, 4 and 5) -
Hypothesis Testing Set
Sum of
Squares
Df
Mean
Square
F
Sig-
GRADE 2
Between Groups
6.345
2
3.172
.253
.778
Within Groups
514,564
41
12.550
Total
520.909
43
GRADE 3
Between Groups
37,967
2
18.983
.956
.390
Within Groups
1330.619
90
19.860
Total
1368.586
92
GRADE 4
Between Groups
42.008
2
42,008
2.348
.134
Within Groups
679.767
55
17.889
Total
721.775
57
GRADE 5
Between Groups
6.017
2
6.017
.521
.477
Within Groups
288.650
40
11.546
Total
294.667
42
Statistical significance at p < 05
Table 2-7. Homogeneity of Samples by Grade (2-5) and School (1, 3 and 6) (Kruskal-
Wallis Test) - Data Exploration Set
Chi-Square
Df
Asymp. Sig
GRADE 2
5.763
2
.056
GRADE 3
.102
2
.950
GRADE 4
4.505
2
.105
GRADES
.722
2
.697
Statistical significance at p < .05

63
Table 2-8. Homogeneity of Samples by Grade (2-5) and School (2,4 and 5) (Kruskal-
Wallis Test) - Hypothesis Testing Set
Chi-Square
Df
Asymp. Sig
GRADE 2
.556
2
.757
GRADE 3
1.967
2
.374
GRADE 4
.977
2
.323
GRADE 5
.267
2
.606
Statistical significance at p < .05
The data for this study were first tested for normality by graphical and numerical
methods. Box-n-dot plots were drawn to represent the distribution of the pooled total test
scores obtained by each grade (Figures 2-1 and 2-2). A box-n-dot plot (John, 1988, pp.
312-346) is a graphical display that gives an indication of the center of the data
(represented by the middle line in the box and referred to as the median or 50th
percentile), the spread of the data (represented by the horizontal lines above and below
the box, these lines are approximately 1.5 standard deviations above and below the mean
respectively) and the presence of outliers (represented by open circles). The box-n-dot
plot also shows the symmetry or skewness of the distribution of data values by the
positioning of the median within the box. If the median is situated around the center of
the box, the data are assumed to be normally distributed.
Observation of these plots indicated that in most cases, the median was not
symmetrically situated, thus suggesting that total test scores in a grade did not necessarily
have a normal distribution The Lilliefors Test for Normality (Conover, 1980, p. 357-61)
was performed, and results confirmed the graphical observation that the data of this study
were not normally distributed in all cases (Tables 2-9 and 2-10). The data were

64
O
LU
cr
O
o
40
30
20
10
0
N* 38 46 35 37
2.00 3.00 4.00 5.00
GRADE
Figure 2-1. Box-n-Dot Plot for Data Exploration Set (Schools 1, 3, and 6).
GRADE
Figure 2-2. Box-n-Dot Plot for Hypothesis Testing Set (Schools 2, 4, and 5).

consequently analyzed using the Kruskal-Wallis test and Wilcoxon’s Signed Ranks test,
two nonparametric statistical methods (Conover, 1980, p. 229-37). The analysis was
performed using SPSS Base 7.5 for Windows.
65
Table 2-9. Tests of Normality - Data Exploration Set
Skewness
Statistic
Df
Sig
Grade 2
194
.121
38
.172
Grade 3
-.189
.112
46
.132
Grade 4
.398
.156
35
.017*
Grade 5
-.972
180
37
.010*
* statistically significant at p < .05
Table 2-10. Tests of Normality - Hypothesis Testing Set
Skewness
Statistic
Df
Sig
Grade 2
.065
120
44
117
Grade 3
-.689
.072
93
.200
Grade 4
-.751
.101
58
.200
Grade 5
-1.129
.174
43
.002*
* statistically significant at p < .05
The Kruskal-Wallis test, which is based on the ranked ordering of observations
across data sets under study, determines whether or not any number of independent
samples of unequal size belong to the same population. In case the independent samples
do not belong to the same population, Fischer’s Test of Least Significant Differences, a
follow-up procedure of multiple comparisons, identifies pairs of data sets that are
significantly different (Sprent, 1989). This study involved a number of independent
samples of unequal size that were related in some aspects but were significantly different
in behavior in other aspects. In other words, the data were divided into independent
samples by grade (4 grades), and spelling patterns (3 patterns). The model used

66
combinations of samples tested for membership in the same population as outlined in
Table 2-11.
Table 2-11. Combinations of Independent Samples in Study
COMBINATION
DATA EXPLORATION
EXAMPLE
HYPOTHESIS TESTING
EXAMPLE
1. Grade x 3 Schools
(Grade 2x3 Schools)
(Grade 3x3 Schools)
(Grade 4x3 Schools)
(Grade 5x3 Schools)
(Grade 2x3 Schools)
(Grade 3x3 Schools)
(Grade 4x3 Schools)
(Grade 5x3 Schools)
2. Spelling Pattern x 4
Grades
(PA-Only x Grade 2)
(PA-Only x Grade 3)
(PA-Only x Grade 4)
(PA-Only x Grade 5)
(PA-Only x Grade 2)
(PA-Only x Grade 3)
(PA-Only x Grade 4)
(PA-Only x Grade 5)
3. Spelling Pattern x 4
Grades
(Ortho-Only x Grade 2)
(Ortho-Only x Grade 3)
(Ortho-Only x Grade 4)
(Ortho-Only x Grade 5)
(Ortho-Only x Grade 2)
(Ortho-Only x Grade 3)
(Ortho-Only x Grade 4)
(Ortho-Only x Grade 5)
4. Spelling Pattern x 4
Grades
(PA + Ortho x Grade 2)
(PA + Ortho x Grade 3)
(PA + Ortho x Grade 4)
(PA + Ortho x Grade 5)
(PA + Ortho x Grade 2)
(PA + Ortho x Grade 3)
(PA + Ortho x Grade 4)
(PA + Ortho x Grade 5)
Wilcoxon’s Signed Ranks test, a statistical procedure used to explore the
relationship between several related samples, was administered to determine whether or
not a difference exists in the performance on the three spelling patterns within the same
grade. All non-parametric procedures were repeated using parallel parametric methods of
analysis in order to compare results and note whether or not the selection of a statistical
method of analysis contingent on the assumption of normality interferes with

67
interpretation of results. The Kruskal-Wallis test was matched and compared with the
One-Way-Analysis of Variance while Wilcoxon’s Signed Ranks test was matched with
the Paired Samples T-test.
In summary, parametric and nonparametric methods of statistical analysis indicated
that grade performance on the Early Spelling Recognition Test was similar in all
participating schools, thus satisfying the homogeneity of samples condition when
designing and standardizing a tool. Based on these findings of homogeneity of samples
by grade and school, data observations from three schools were pooled to form a data
exploration set and a data testing set respectively. All subsequent statistical analyses
were performed on the two sets of pooled data. Tests of normality indicated that data in
both the data exploration and the hypothesis testing sets were not normally distributed for
all grades. Consequently, all data analyses, reported in the next chapter, were performed
using nonparametric and parallel parametric statistical methods

CHAPTER 3
RESULTS
This chapter reports the results of the statistical analysis done on the sample of
spelling scores obtained by children in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5 respectively on the Early
Spelling Recognition Test (ESRT). Findings are presented in two sections, (1) data
exploration and (2) hypothesis testing. Within each section, findings are presented
relative to the six experimental questions posed in Chapter 1. First, how do children from
grades 2, 3, 4 and 5 respectively perform on the Early Spelling Recognition Test?
Second, is there a difference in spelling performance across the four grades? Third, are
there between-grade differences in the performance of the three spelling patterns (PA-
Only, Ortho-Only, and PA + Ortho)? Fourth, are there within-grade differences in the
performance of the three spelling patterns? Fifth, what are the most frequent error types
at each grade level? And sixth, does SES influence spelling performance? For each
question, the results of the parametric and non-parametric statistical tests will be
presented side-by-side, followed by a description of the means and medians.
Data Exploration
Data from three schools, selected at random from a group of six schools, were
combined and used to examine patterns of spelling development in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5
respectively. The number of subjects in each grade was unequal: there were 38 subjects
in grade 2, 46 subjects in grade 3, 35 subjects in grade 4, and 37 subjects in grade 5,
resulting in a total number of 156 subjects in the sample set.
68

69
Grade Performance on the ESRT
Total scores, defined as the total number of correct responses on the ESRT, were
examined for each of the four grades independently using both parametric and non-
parametric methods of statistical analysis The distribution of scores in each grade was
studied relative to the mean, median, standard deviation and interquartile range (IQR)
(Table 3-1.) The IQR, defined as half the range of scores that fall between the 251*1 and
the 75th quartiles, is a measure of the variability of scores from the median value. The
IQR is also approximately equivalent to 1.5 standard deviations from the mean
Approximate equivalencies between the IQR, standard deviations and percentiles are
summarized in Table 3-2.
Table 3-1. Distribution of Total ESRT Scores by Grade.
Grade 2
Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5
N
38
46
35
37
Mean
19.9
20.6
26.3
26.6
Std. Deviation
5.5
5.5
4.8
4.4
Median
19.5
21.5
28.0
28.0
IQR
7.0
9.0
6.5
5.0
Table 3-2. Approximate equivalencies between measures.
Measures on Box-n-Dot plot
Measures in Standard Deviations
75”1 percentile
0.9 SD above the mean
Upper end of IQR (93rd percentile)
25th percentile
1.5 SD above the mean
0.9 SD below the mean
Lower end of IQR (T'h percentile)
1.5 SD below the mean
Extremes
Scores between 1.25 and 1.5 SD above and
below the mean respectively
Outliers
Scores 1.5 SD above and below the mean
respectively

70
In each of the four grades, the mean and the median of the total test scores were
dissimilar yet relatively close in value. In grade 2, the mean (19.9) is slightly higher than
the median (19.5), suggesting that the distribution of total test scores is very slightly
positively skewed In each of the grades 3,4, and 5 respectively, the mean total test
score is consistently lower than the median (x = 20.6, M = 21.5 for grade 3; x = 26.3, M =
28 for grade 4; x = 26.4, M = 28 for grade 5), suggesting that the distribution of total test
scores in each grade is negatively skewed.
Box-n-dot plots were drawn for each grade independently to identify scores that fell
below the 25* quartile and above the 75th quartile (Fig. 3-1). In grade 2, eleven scores
fell below the 25®' quartile while eight scores fell above the 75®1 quartile. In grade 3,
twelve scores fell below the 25th quartile and eight scores fell above the 75®1 quartile. In
grade 4, seven scores fell below the 25®1 quartile while seven scores fell above the 75®1
quartile. In grade 5, ten scores fell below the 25®1 quartile with two of the scores falling
below the 7®1 percentile, that is, these two scores were outliers and were greater than 1.5
SD below the mean In grade 5, nine scores fell above the 75®1 quartile
Spelling Performance across Grades
Mean and median total test scores showed that spelling performance on the ESRT
improved consistently across grades 2 through 5 (Table 3-1). This improvement across
grades was supported by a statistically significant Kruskal-Wallis test statistic, y? (3, 156)
= 43.7, p < .05 as well as a one way analysis of variance (ANOVA), F (3, 156) = 19.1, p
< .05 (Table 3-3 and Table 3-4).
Fisher’s least significant difference (LSD) post hoc comparisons indicated a
statistically significant improvement in spelling performance between grades 2 and 4,
grades 2 and 5, grades 3 and 4 and grades 3 and 5. No statistically significant

71
40
30
CO 20
LU
¡r
o
o
CO
I—
CO 10
LU
o
38
2.00
46
3.00
35
4.00
37
5.00
GRADE
Figure 3-1. Box-n-Dot Plots for Total Test Scores in each Grade
Note: Box-n-dot plots show the distribution of scores relative to the median score. The
bold line inside the box represents the median score for each of the grades and (x) inside
the box represents the mean score for each of the grades The upper border of the box
represents the 75® quartile while the lower border represents the 25® quartile The
horizontal lines extending above and below the box respectively show the IQR, that is,
half the range of scores that fall between the two quartiles. The horizontal line below the
25® quartile is equivalent to the 7® percentile. The horizontal line above the 75® quartile
is equivalent to the 93rd percentile Both boundaries represent 1.5 standard deviations
from the mean. Numbers in parentheses represent the number of scores that fell below
the 25® quartile or above the 75® quartile Empty circles represent outliers, which are
scores greater than 1 5 SD above and below the mean respectively

Table 3-3. Kruskal-Wallis Test Statistics for Spelling Performance across Grades
72
Grade
N
Mean Rank
Chi-Square Df
Asymp. Sig.
2.00
38
53.4
43.7 3
.000*
3.00
46
59.0
4.00
35
102.6
5.00
37
105.7
* Difference significant at p < .05
Table 3-4 ANOVA for Spelling Performance across Grades
Sum of Squares
Df
Mean Square F
Sig
Between Groups
1499.5
3
499.8
19.1
.000*
Within Groups
3980.7
152
26.2
Total
5480.3
155
* Difference significant at p < .05
improvement in spelling performance was noted between grades 2 and 3 and between
grades 4 and 5 (Table 3-5).
Table 3-5. Multiple Comparisons and LSD between Grades on Total Test Scores.
GRADE
GRADE
Mean Difference
Std. Error
Sig
2.00
3.00
-.78
1.12
.50
4.00
-6.44*
1.19
00
5.00
-6 78*
1.18
00
3.00
2.00
.78
1.12
49
4.00
-5.66*
1.15
.00
5.00
-5.99*
1.13
.00
4 00
2.00
6.44*
1.19
.00
3,00
5.66*
1.15
.00
5.00
-.33
1.20
.78
5.00
2.00
6.78*
1.18
.00
3.00
5.99*
1.13
.00
4,00
.33
1.20
.78
* Mean difference significant at p < .05

73
Between-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns
Performance on each of the three error patterns, PA-Only, Ortho-Only, and PA +
Ortho, improved from grades 2 to 5, as depicted by mean and median scores (Table 3-6).
This improvement was supported by a statistically significant difference on each of the
three spelling patterns across the four grades (Tables 3-7 and 3-8).
Table 3-6. Descriptive Measures on Three Spelling Patterns by Grade
PA-Only
Ortho-Only
PA + Ortho
Grade 2
N
Median (1QR)
Mean (std. Dev.)
38
75(1.5)
74(1.5)
38
4.9 (2.5)
4.7 (1.9)
38
54(3.1)
5.2 (1.9)
Grade 3
N
Median (IQR)
Mean (std. Dev.)
46
8.0 (2.2)
7.7 (1.7)
46
5.0 (3.4)
5.1(19)
46
5.4 (3.1)
5.4 (1.9)
Grade 4
N
Median (IQR)
Mean (std. Dev.)
35
9.0 (2.0)
87(1.5)
35
6.7 (2.5)
6.9 (1.8)
35
7 7(1.5)
71(1.5)
Grade 5
N
Median (IQR)
Mean (std. Dev )
37
9.0 (2.0)
9,0 (1,1)
37
7.5 (2.9)
7.1 (2.2)
37
77(2.3)
71(1-5)
Table 3-7. Relationship of Performance on Each Spelling Pattern between Grades -
Kruskal-Wallis Test.
PA-Only
Ortho-Only
PA + Ortho
Chi-Square
29.78
38.11
31.74
Df
3
3
3
Asymp. Sig.
.000*
.000*
.000*
* Difference significant at p < .05

Table 3-8 Relationship of Performance on Each Spelling Pattern between Grades -
ANOVA
74
Sum of
Squares
Df
Mean Square
F
S¡g.
PA-Only
Between Groups
69,48
3
23.162
10.664
000*
Within Groups
330.12
152
2.172
Total
399.61
155
Ortho-Only
Between Groups
176.255
3
58.752
15.823
.000*
Within Groups
564.375
152
3.713
Total
740.629
155
PA + Ortho
Between Groups
123.117
3
41.039
13.204
.000*
Within Groups
472.427
152
3.108
Total
595.544
155
* Difference in performance significant at p < .05
Fisher’s LSD post-hoc analyses showed that in spelling words of the PA-Only type,
there was a significant difference between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5, grades 3 and 4
and grades 3 and 5. No significant difference for spelling word type occurred between
grades 2 and 3 and grades 4 and 5 (Table 3-9).
Fisher’s LSD post-hoc analyses showed that in spelling words of the Ortho-Only
type, there was a significant difference between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5, grades 3
and 4, and grades 3 and 5. No significant difference for spelling word type occurred
between grades 2 and 3 and grades 4 and 5 (Table 3-10).
Fisher’s LSD post-hoc analyses showed that in spelling words of the PA + Ortho
type, there was a significant difference between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5, grades 3
and 4 and grades 3 and 5. No significant difference for spelling word type occurred
between grades 2 and 3 and grades 4 and 5 (Table 3-11).

75
Table 3-9 Between-Grade Multiple Comparisons of Performance on PA only Words.
Grade
Grade
Mean Difference
Std. Error
S¡g
2.00
3.00
-.3272
.323
.313
4 00
-1.3173*
.345
.000
5.00
-1.6316*
.340
,000
3.00
2.00
.3272
.323
.313
4.00
-.9901*
.331
.003
5.00
-1,3043*
.325
000
4.00
2.00
1.3173*
.345
.000
3 00
.9901*
.331
.003
5.00
-.3143
.347
.367
5.00
200
1.6316*
.340
.000
3.00
1.3043*
.325
.000
400
.3143
.347
.367
* Difference significant at p <
.05
Table 3-10.
Words
Between-Grade Multiple Comparisons of Performance on Ortho-Only
Grade
Grade
Mean Difference
Std Error
Sig.
2.00
3 00
-.3030
.422
.474
4.00
-2.2278*
451
.000
5.00
-2.3394*
445
.000
3.00
200
3030
.422
474
4.00
-1.9248*
.432
.000
5.00
-2.0364*
426
.000
4.00
2.00
2.2278*
.451
.000
3.00
1.9248*
.432
.000
5.00
-.1116
.454
806
5.00
2.00
2.3394*
.445
000
3.00
2.0364*
.426
.000
4.00
1116
454
.806
* Difference significant at p < .05

76
Table 3-11. Between-Grade Multiple Comparisons of Performance on PA + Ortho
Words.
Grade
Grade
Mean Difference
Std. Error
Sig-
2.00
3.00
-.1470
.386
.704
4.00
-1.8579*
.413
.000
5.00
-1.8606*
.407
.000
3.00
2.00
.1470
.386
.704
400
-1.7109*
.395
000
5.00
-1 7136*
.389
000
4.00
2.00
1.8579*
.413
.000
3.00
1.7109*
.395
.000
5.00
-2.7027
416
.995
5,00
2.00
1.8606*
.407
.000
3.00
1.7136*
.389
.000
4.00
2.703
.416
.995
* Difference significant at p < .05
Within-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns
Mean and median scores obtained on each of the three spelling error patterns, PA-
Only, Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho, showed a pattern of difficulty in spelling performance
across all four grades (Table 3-6). All grades performed best on the PA-Only type of
words and most poorly on the Ortho-Only type of words. Scores on the PA + Ortho type
of words were consistently lower than on the PA-Only type of words but slightly higher
than on the Ortho-Only type of words.
Within each grade, performance on the three spelling error patterns showed a
statistically significant difference (for grade 2, x2(2, 113) = 32.9, p < .05; for grade 3, x
(2, 137) = 50.4, p < .05; for grade 4, x2(2, 104) = 19.4, p < .05; for grade 5, x2(2, 109) =
62.9, p < .05). Both the Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test and the Paired Samples T-test
showed that for each of the four grades, a significant difference occurred between the

77
spelling performance of a) PA-Only and Ortho-Only type of words and b) PA-Only and
PA + Ortho type of words. In grade 2, a statistically significant difference also occurred
between the spelling performance of Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho type of spelling words.
In grades 3,4 and 5, there was no statistically significant difference in scores between the
Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho error types (Table 3-12).
Table 3-12. Differences between Spelling Patterns in each Grade: Wilcoxon Signed
Ranks Test and Paired Samples Test
Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test
Paired Samples Test
Grade
Pairs
Mean
Rank
Z
Asymp
S>g
Mean (std
Dev.)
T
Df
Sig.
2
1
19.89
-5.19
.000»
2.6 (1.7)
9.62
37
.000*
2
21.28
-5.12
.000*
2.1 (16)
7.96
37
000*
3
15.86
-2.16
.031*
-.5(1.3)
-2.31
37
.026*
3
1
23.48
-5 82
.000*
2.6(1 7)
10.52
45
.000*
2
24.95
-5.82
.000*
2.3 (1.7)
9. 15
45
.000*
3
23 08
- 86
388
-.3 (1.8)
-1.21
45
.232
4
1
20,45
-4.61
.000*
1.7(1.7)
5 85
34
000*
2
18 82
-4.40
.000*
1.6(15)
6.13
34
.000*
3
17.66
-.26
.797
-.1 (1.7)
-.39
34
,698
5
1
20.05
-4.69
.000*
1.9(1.8)
6.34
36
.000*
2
19.68
-4.79
.000*
1.9 (1.6)
7.05
36
000*
3
22.90
-.12
.904
-5.4 (1.6)
-.02
36
.984
Pair 1 = PA-Only - Ortho-Only
Pair 2 = PA-Only - PA + Ortho
Pair 3 = Ortho-Only - PA + Ortho
* Paired difference significant at p < .05
Most Frequently Occurring Spelling Errors Between and Within Grades on the ESRT
A list of specific phonemic and orthographic spelling errors was created from the
targets included in the Experimental Spelling Recognition Test (Table 3-13). The

78
frequency of occurrence of these spelling errors was counted for grades 2, 3,4 and 5
respectively and the numbers of errors was calculated based on the total number of
possible errors in each grade. The number of errors was then converted into a percentage
of the total number of possible errors for each error type by grade (Tables 3-14 and 3-15).
In all four grades, the highest number of phonemic errors occurred on spelling the long
and short vowel represented by the letter . For example, a common error occurred on
the word “zuleps” where the long vowel sound in the first open syllable was represented
with the letter sequences . Similarly, the short vowel sound in the first closed
syllable of the word “yuntrude” was often represented with the letters or .
Table 3-13. Frequent Spelling Error Targets across Grades.
Errors of Phonemic Awareness
Orthographic Errors
1.
in open and closed syllables
1.
Adding suffix -s to a root
2.
vowel digraphs, e g.,
2.
Adding suffix ed to a root
3.
consonant digraphs, e g.,
3.
-tch/-ch? dge/-ge? -ck/-k?
4.
consonant blends, e g., <-nt, ff>
4.
Syllable type: V-Ce
5.
Syllable type: Con-1 e
6.
Doubling rule
7.
/
Table 3-14. Percentage of Phonemic Awareness Error Types by Grade
Error Types
Grade 2
Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5
in open/closed syllables
47.4%
52.2%
45.7%
40.5%
Vowel digraphs
17.4%
19.1%
9.7%
8.6%
Consonant digraphs
21.7%
13.6%
7.8%
7.4%
Consonant blends
14,0%
21.7%
9.5%
2.7%
In grade 2, a high percent of errors occurred on selection of the appropriate
consonant and vowel digraphs. Fewer errors were made on consonant blends A similar

79
pattern of frequency of error types was noted for grade 3. Both digraphs and consonant
blends were problematic spelling targets. In grades 4 and 5, the total percent of errors by
type was relatively reduced However, in grade 4, an equal percent of errors was made
on digraphs and consonant blends By grade 5, errors on consonant blends were
markedly reduced, but persisted on vowel and consonant digraphs.
Table 3-15. Percentage of Orthographic Error Types by Grade.
Error Types
Grade 2
Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5
-y + s ies
45%
53%
29%
19%
-Vy + s Vys
15%
20%
17%
26%
-sh/ch + s sh/ches
28%
17%
19%
15%
-fe + s ves
17%
14%
15%
12%
suffix s -> Izl
12%
17%
08%
12%
Suffix -ed 4 /t/
37%
39%
14%
19%
Suffix -ed /id/
18%
12%
7%
7%
-ay + ed -ayed
14%
15%
9%
6%
consonant doubling
33%
41%
25%
28%
drop silent -e
14%
22%
19%
11%
-tch/-ch? -dge/ge? -ck/k?
59%
53%
29%
24%
V Con-e syllable
23%
23%
9%
12%
Con-1 e syllable
28%
24%
11%
18%
Doubling s rule
05%
06%
2%
4%
-ie ei /
19%
12%
14%
19%
In all four grades, the most frequent orthographic error occurred on the rule-based
selection of the consonant combinations , and . Other
prominent orthographic errors involved knowledge of spelling rules for adding the suffix
to a root word that ends in the vowel as well as the three phonetic

80
representations of the suffix . In other words, children from all four grades had
some degree of difficulty understanding that the form of the suffix remains the same
despite differences in pronunciation. As a result, they tended to select the spelling form
that was closest to the phonetic representation of the word, for example, when they heard
“they ploiked yesterday”, they selected the spelling form instead of .
This trend in spelling orthographic rule-based patterns from a phonetic standpoint
decreased as grade level increased but did not disappear by grade 5.
Effect of SES on Spelling Performance
One third of the subjects in this data set were on free or reduced lunch status, the
criterion used to divide children into one of two socioeconomic levels. Within each
grade, a similar proportion of subjects were on free or reduced lunch status (Table 3-16).
Descriptive measures showed that subjects on free or reduced lunch status consistently
obtained a lower total test score on the experimental spelling recognition test relative to
their peers who were not on free or reduced lunch (Table 3-16). Both the Kruskal-Wallis
test and an ANOVA supported the observation that the overall spelling performance of
the two groups of subjects was significantly different, x2 (1. 154) = 9.77, p < .05; F (1,
154)= 12.23, p<.05.
However, this difference failed to reach statistical significance for every grade.
Only in grades 3 and 4 did lunch status of a child result in a statistically significant
difference on total ESRT scores, %2 0, 45) = 5.73, p < .05; F (1,45) = 6.86, p < .05 for
grade 3, x2 (1, 34) = 3.70, p < .05; F (1, 45) = 5.33, p < .05 for grade 4. In grade 2, where
35 8% of the children were on free or reduced lunch, there was no statistically significant
difference in the spelling performance between the two groups, x2 (1, 37) = 0.59, p > .05;
F (1, 37) = 0.46, p > .05. Similarly, in grade 5, where 29.7% of the children were on free

Table 3-16. Proportion of Subjects on Free/ Reduced Lunch by Grade and Descriptive
Measures of their Spelling Performance.
81
Frequency
Percent
Mean
Std.
Dev.
Median
IQR
Grade 2
.00
24
63.2
20.3
4.8
20.0
7.0
1.00
14
35.8
19.1
6.6
18.5
9.0
Grade 3
.00
27
58.7
22.3
4.8
23.0
5.0
1 00
19
41.3
18.3
5.7
17.0
8.0
Grade 4
.00
25
71.4
274
4.2
28.0
5.5
1.00
10
28.6
23.5
5.2
23.5
9.7
Grade 5
.00
26
70.3
27.1
4.1
28.0
3.0
1.00
11
29.7
25.6
5.3
25,0
8.0
All
.00
102
65.4
24.3
5.3
25.5
7.2
Grades
1.00
54
34.6
20.9
6.4
21.0
9.2
.00 = paid lunch status; 1.00 = free/ reduced lunch status
Table 3-17.
Test)
Effect of Lunch Status on Spelling Performance by Grade (Kruskal-Wallis
Lunch
N
Mean Rank Chi-Square
Df
Asymp. Sig.
Grade 2
,00
24
20.56
.599
1
.439
1 00
14
1768
Grade 3
.00
27
27.46
5.73
1
.017*
1.00
19
17.87
Grade 4
.00
25
20 10
3.70
1
.045*
LOO
10
12.75
Grade 5
.00
26
19 56
.23
1
.628
1.00
11
17,68
Difference significant at p < .05

82
or reduced lunch, there was no statistically significant difference in spelling performance
between the two groups, x2(l, 36) = 0.23, p > .05; F (1, 36) = 0.81, p > .05 (Tables 3-17
and 3-18).
Table 3-18. Effect of Lunch Status on Spelling Performance by Grade (ANOVA.)
Sum of
Squares
Df
Mean Square
F
Sig.
Grade 2
Bet Groups
14.08
1
14.08
46
.500
Within Groups
1090.26
36
30.28
Total
1104.34
37
Grade 3
Bet Groups
184.75
1
184.75
6.86
.012*
Within Groups
1185.68
44
26.95
Total
1370.43
45
Grade 4
Bet Groups
110 88
1
110 88
5.33
.027*
Within Groups
686.66
33
20.81
Total
797.54
34
Grade 5
Bet Groups
16.04
1
16.04
.81
.374
Within Groups
692.39
35
19.78
Total
708.43
36
* Difference significant at p < .05
Descriptive measures also showed that subjects on free or reduced lunch status
consistently obtained lower scores on the three subtests of the ESRT, the PA-Only, the
Ortho-Only, and the PA + Ortho, relative to their peers who were not on free or reduced
lunch (Table 3-19). Regardless of SES, scores on the Ortho-Only spelling pattern were
generally lower than on the PA-Only and the PA + Ortho spelling patterns in all four
grades.

83
Table 3-19. Descriptive Measures of Performance on three Spelling Patterns by Grade
and SES.
PA-Only Ortho-Only PA + Ortho
Mean
(SD)
Median
(IQR)
Mean
(SD)
Median
(IQR)
Mean
(SD)
Median
(IQR)
Grade 2
.00
7.46
7.5
4.86
5.0
5.41
5 4
(1.3)
(2.5)
(1.7)
(1.6)
(1.73)
(3.1)
1.00
721
7.5
4 58
3.75
495
5,0
(18)
(1.75)
(2.3)
(3.5)
(2.15)
(4.2)
Grade 3
.00
8,03
8.00
5.63
5.80
5.87
6.20
0-6)
(20)
(1.50)
(1.70)
(1.79)
(1.50)
1.00
7.21
7.00
4.24
4 20
4 69
4 60
(168)
(2.00)
(2.20)
(2.50)
(1.95)
(3.10)
Grade 4
.00
9 00
9.00
7.24
7.50
7.47
7.70
(1.38)
(1.00)
(1.73)
(2.50)
(1.55)
(2.30)
1.00
7.90
8 00
635
6.70
6.16
5.80
(1.59)
(3.25)
(1.97)
(2.90)
(1.63)
(3.10)
Grade 5
.00
9.11
9.00
7.44
7.50
7.21
7.70
(1.07)
(1.25)
(168)
(1 82)
(1.36)
(2.30)
1.00
8.72
9 00
6.28
5 80
7.05
7.30
0 01)
(2.00)
(2.59)
(3.30)
(1.78)
(2.30)
00 = paid lunch status; 1 00 = free or reduced lunch status
Hypothesis Derived from Exploration Data
Based on the results of the data exploration, the following hypothesis were
formulated:
1. A significant improvement in spelling performance occurs between a) grades 2
and 4, b) grades 2 and 5, c) grades 3 and 4, and d) grades 3 and 5.
2. Within each grade, children obtain the highest score on words of the PA-Only
spelling pattern and the lowest score on words of the Ortho-Only spelling pattern

84
3. Within each grade, there is a significant difference in the spelling performance
between a) words of the PA-Only pattern and Ortho-Only pattern, and b) words of
the PA-Only pattern and PA + Ortho pattern.
4. In spelling words of the PA-Only, the Ortho-Only and the PA + Ortho patterns
respectively, there is a significant improvement between a) grades 2 and 4, b)
grades 2 and 5, c) grades 3 and 4, and d) grades 3 and 5.
5 The most frequent phonemic spelling errors in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5 include (a)
representation of the long or short vowel by the letter and (b) spelling vowel
digraphs
6 The most frequent orthographic spelling errors in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5 include (a)
the rule-based selection of consonant combinations like -tch/-ch, -dge/ge and -
ck/k, and (b) the understanding that a suffix may have several phonetic forms
which, based on rules, may or may not require changes in spelling forms.
7. SES, determined by lunch status, has a significant effect on overall spelling
performance. However, this effect is not consistent across all four grades.
Hypothesis Testing Data
Data from the three schools not included in the Data Exploration were combined and
analyzed to verify the hypotheses formulated from the findings of the Data Exploration.
Patterns of spelling acquisition in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5 were examined using the same
statistical methods applied in the Data Exploration section. The number of subjects in
each grade was unequal: there were 44 subjects in grade 2, 93 subjects in grade 3, 58
subjects in grade 4, and 43 subjects in grade 5.
Grade Performance on the Spelling Recognition Test
The distribution of scores in each grade for the mean, median, standard deviation
and interquartile range (IQR) is shown below in Table 3-20. In each of the four grades,
the mean and the median of the total test scores were dissimilar yet relatively close in

85
value In each of the grades 2,4, and 5 respectively, the mean total test score was
consistently lower than the median (x = 22.5, M = 23.0 for grade 2, x = 23.8, M = 24.5
for grade 4, x = 26.9, M = 28 for grade 5), suggesting that the distribution of total test
scores in each grade is negatively skewed. In grade 3, the mean (22.6) was higher than
the median (22.0), suggesting that the distribution of total test scores is positively
skewed.
Box-n-dot plots were also drawn for each grade independently (Figure 3-2) in order
to identity scores that fell below the 25th quartile and above the 75th quartile. In grade 2,
six scores fell below the 25th quartile while eleven scores fell above the 75th quartile. In
grade 3, twenty-two scores fell below the 25th quartile and twenty-two scores fell above
the 75Ih quartile. Among the twenty-two scores that fell below the 25th quartile, four were
outliers. These outliers fell below the lower boundary of the IQR and were at least 1.5
standard deviations below the mean score obtained in grade 3. In grade 4, ten scores fell
below the 25th quartile and eighteen scores fell above the 75th quartile. Among the ten
scores that feli below the 25th quartile, there was one outlier with a score that fell below
the lower boundary of the IQR. In grade 5, there were nine scores that fell below the 25th
quartile and eight scores that fell above the 75th quartile. Among the nine scores that fell
below the 25th quartile, two were outliers with scores that fell below the lower boundary
of the IQR
Table 3-20. Distribution of Total ESRT Scores by Grade.
Grade 2
Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5
N
44
93
58
43
Mean
22.5
22.6
23.8
26.9
Std Deviation
3.5
5.2
5.4
4.4
Median
23.0
22.0
24.5
28.0
IQR
5.75
60
7.25
5.0

86
Spelling Performance across Grades
Mean and median total test scores showed that spelling performance on the ESRT
improved from grade 2 through grade 5 (Table 3-20). This improvement across grades
was supported by a statistically significant Kruskal-Wallis test statistic, x2P, 237) = 32.2,
p < .05 as well as a one way analysis of variance (ANOVA), F (3, 237) = 11.2, p < .05
(Tables 3-21 and 3-22).
Table 3-21. Kruskal-Wallis Test Statistics for Spelling Performance across Grades.
Grade
N
Mean Rank
Chi-Square Df
Asymp. Sig.
2.00
44
63.1
32.2 3
.000*
3 00
93
78.3
4 00
48
98.1
5.00
43
129 8
* Difference significant at p < .05
Table 3-22. ANOVA for Spelling Performance across Grades.
Sum of Squares
Df
Mean Square
F Sig.
Between Groups
567.5
3
189.2
11.2 .000*
Within Groups
2862.5
234
16.8
Total
3429.9
237
* Difference significant at p < .05
Fisher’s least significant difference (LSD) post hoc comparisons indicated a
statistically significant improvement in spelling performance between grades 2 and 4,
grades 2 and 5, grades 3 and 4, grades 3 and 5 and grades 4 and 5. No statistically
significant improvement in spelling performance occurred between grades 2 and 3 (Table
3-23). This finding differs slightly from the results of the data exploration where no

87
40'
30'
20'
W
LLt
CC
o
o
CO
I—
CO 101
LU
<
I-
o
N =
44
2 00
0153.00
16.00
â– ' 00
D316
0151
0169.00
0178.00
93
300
58
4 00
43
5 00
GRADE
Figure 3-2. Box-n-Dot Plots for Total ESRT Scores by Grade.
Note: Box-n-dot plots show the distribution of scores relative to the median score. The
bold line inside the box represents the median score for each of the grades and (x) inside
the box represents the mean score for each of the grades. The upper border of the box
represents the 75quartile while the lower border represents the 25th quartile. The
horizontal lines extending above and below the box respectively show the IQR, that is,
half the range of scores that fall between the two quartiles. The horizontal line below the
25th quartile is equivalent to the 7a1 percentile. The horizontal line above the 751*1 quartile
is equivalent to the 93rd percentile Both boundaries represent 1.5 standard deviations
from the mean. Numbers in parentheses represent the number of scores that fell below
the 25th quartile or above the 75th quartile. Empty circles represent outliers, which are
scores greater than 1.5 SD above and below the mean respectively.

significant difference in spelling performance was noted between grades 4 and 5, a
discrepancy that could result from the nature of the data samples in each set.
88
Table 3-23. Multiple Comparisons and LSD between Grades on Total Test Scores
GRADE
GRADE
Mean Difference
Std. Error
Sig
2.00
3.00
-1.18
.16
.155
4 00
-2.89*
.93
.002
5 00
-5.54*
1.03
.000
3.00
2.00
1.18
.83
.155
4.00
-1 70*
.81
.038
5 00
^t.35*
.93
000
4.00
2.00
2.89*
.93
.002
3.00
1.70*
.81
.038
5.00
-2.65*
1.02
.010
5 00
2.00
5.54*
1.03
.000
3.00
4.35*
.93
.000
4.00
2.65*
1.02
.010
* Mean difference significant at p < .05
Between-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns
Performance on each of the three error patterns, PA-Only, Ortho-Only, and PA +
Ortho, improved from grades 2 to 5, as depicted by mean and median scores (Table 3-
24). This improvement was supported by a statistically significant difference on each of
the three spelling patterns across the four grades (Tables 3-25 and 3-26).
Fisher’s LSD post-hoc analyses showed that in spelling words of the PA only type,
there was a significant difference between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5, grades 3 and 4
and grades 3 and 5. No significant difference for spelling word types occurred between
grades 2 and 3 and grades 4 and 5. These findings are similar to the findings of the
exploration data (Table 3-37).

Table 3-24 Descriptive Measures on Three Spelling Patterns by Grade.
89
PA-Only
Ortho-Only
PA + Ortho
Grade 2
N
44
44
44
Median (IQR)
9.0 (2.0)
5.4 (1.6)
5 8(2.3)
Mean (std. Dev.)
8.4 (1.6)
5.5(15)
5 8(1.6)
Grade 3
N
93
93
93
Median (IQR)
8.0 (2.0)
5 8 (2.5)
6.2 (3.1)
Mean (std. Dev.)
8 1 (1.6)
6 0(1,8)
6 4(1.6)
Grade 4
N
58
58
58
Median (IQR)
9.0 (3.0)
5.8(25)
6.2 (2.3)
Mean (std Dev.)
8 9 (14)
6.6 (1.4)
6.8 (1.7)
Grade 5
N
43
43
43
Median (IQR)
9.0 (1.0)
7.5 (2.7)
7.7 (2.3)
Mean (std Dev )
9.3 (.9)
7.3 (16)
7.7 (1.3)
Table 3-25.
Relationship of Performance on Each Spelling Pattern between Grades -
Kruskal-Wallis Test
PA only
Ortho only
PA + Ortho
Chi-Square
16.04
14.18
27.05
Df
3
3
3
Asymp Sig.
.001»
.003*
.000*
* Difference significant at p < .05
Fisher’s LSD post-hoc analyses showed that in
spelling words of the Ortho-Only
type, there was a significant difference between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5, grades 3
and 4 and grades 3 and 5. No significant difference for spelling word type occurred
between grades 2 and 3 and grades 4 and 5 (Table 3-28).
Fisher’s LSD post-hoc analyses showed that in spelling words of the PA + Ortho
type, there was a significant difference between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5, grades 3
and 4 and grades 4 and 5 (Table 3-29).

Table 3-26. Relationship of Performance on Each Spelling Pattern between Grades -
ANOVA.
90
Sum of
Squares
Df
Mean Square
F
Sig
PA-Only
Between Groups
34.29
3
11.431
5.186
.002*
Within Groups
374.74
234
2.204
Total
409.03
237
Ortho-Only
Between Groups
42.09
3
14.029
5.257
.002*
Within Groups
282.89
234
2.669
Total
324,98
237
PA + Ortho
Between Groups
79.09
3
26.362
10.472
.000*
Within Groups
427.94
234
2.517
Total
507.02
237
* Difference in performance significant at p < .05
Table 3-27. Between-Grade Multiple Comparisons of Performance on PA-Only Words
Grade
Grade
Mean Difference
Std. Error
Sig-
2.00
3 00
-.3051
300
.310
4.00
-.5190*
.336
.041
5.00
-.8752*
.374
.020
3,00
2.00
-.3051
.300
.310
4 00
-.8091*
295
.007
5.00
-1.1804*
.337
.001
4.00
2.00
.5190*
.336
.041
3.00
.8091*
.295
.007
5.00
-.3713
.370
.317
5.00
2.00
.8752*
.374
.020
3.00
1.1804*
.337
,001
4.00
.3713
.370
.317
Significant difference at p < .05

Table 3-28. Between-Grade Multiple Comparisons of Performance on Ortho-Only
Words
91
Grade
Grade
Mean Difference
Std. Error
Sig.
2.00
3.00
-5.5163
.411
.893
4.00
-.9240*
.442
.039
5.00
-1.8540*
.574
.002
3.00
2.00
5.5160
.411
.893
4.00
-.8688*
.389
.027
5.00
-1,7988*
.533
.001
4.00
2.00
.9240*
.442
.039
3.00
8688’
.389
.027
5.00
-.9300
.558
.099
5.00
2.00
1.8540*
.574
.002
3.00
1.7988*
.533
.001
4.00
9300
.558
.099
* Difference significant at p
<05
Table 3-29.
Words.
Between-Grade Multiple Comparisons of Performance on PA + Ortho
Grade
Grade
Mean Difference
Std. Error
Sig.
2.00
3.00
-.3990
.321
.103
4.00
-1.2624*
.359
001
5 00
-2.1807*
.399
000
3.00
2 00
.3990
.321
.103
4.00
-.8842*
.315
000
5.00
-1.2841*
.360
000
4.00
200
1.2624*
.359
001
3 00
8842*
.315
.000
5.00
-.4272
.395
111
5.00
2.00
2.1807*
.399
000
3.00
1.2841*
.360
000
4.00
.4272
.395
111
* Difference significant at p < .05

92
Within-Grade Performance on Three Spelling Error Patterns
Mean and median scores obtained on each of the three spelling error patterns, PA-
Only, Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho, showed a pattern of difficulty in spelling performance
across all four grades (Table 3-24). All grades performed best on the PA-Only type of
words and most poorly on the Ortho-Only type of words. Scores on the PA + Ortho type
of words were consistently lower than on the PA-Only type of words but slightly higher
than on the Ortho-Only type of words.
Within each grade, performance on the three spelling error patterns showed a
statistically significant difference for grade 2 (x2 (2, 130) = 47.9, p < .05), grade 3 (x2(2,
277) = 50.4, p < .05), grade 4 (x2 (2, 172) = 51.4, p < .05), and grade 5 (x2 (2, 127) = 35.2,
p < .05). Both the Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test and the Paired Samples T-test showed
that for each of the four grades, a significant difference occurred between the spelling
performance of a) PA-Only and Ortho-Only type of words and b) PA-Only and PA +
Ortho type of words. In grades 4 and 5, no statistically significant difference in scores
occurred between the two error types Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho. In grade 2, there was
a statistically significant difference between the error types Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho.
Contrary to the findings of the data exploration, in grade 3 also, a significant difference
occurred between the error types Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho when data were analyzed
using the parametric paired samples test On the other hand, the nonparametric Wilcoxon
signed ranks test failed to identify a significant difference between the Ortho-Only and
PA + Ortho error types in grade 3 (Table 3-30).

Table 3-30. Differences between Spelling Patterns in each Grade: Wilcoxon Signed
Ranks Test and Paired Samples Test.
93
Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test
Paired Samples Test
Grade
Pairs
Mean
Rank
Z
Asymp.
Sig
Mean (std.
Dev.)
T
Df
Sig-
2
1
20.07
-4.82
.000*
2.6 (2.1)
7.45
43
.000*
2
21.58
-4.96
.000*
2.9 (2.0)
8.60
43
.000*
3
19.83
-1.24
.214
.3 (2.0)
.90
43
.374
3
1
36.25
-6.00
000*
2.1 (2.2)
7.98
92
000*
2
38.09
-5.53
.000*
1.7 (2.0)
6.80
92
.000*
3
36,40
-1.56
.118
- 4 (1.7)
-2.10
92
.039*
4
1
22.94
-5.29
.000*
2.4 (1.6)
945
57
000*
2
21.85
-5.06
.000*
2.1(16)
8.05
57
000*
3
23.17
-.84
400
-.25(1.6)
-1.02
57
.312
5
1
15.61
-4.09
.000*
1.9 (1.6)
6.38
42
.000*
2
13 50
-4 36
.000*
16(1.3)
6.42
42
.000*
3
12.23
-1,04
.297
-4.0 (1.9)
-1.09
42
.284
Pair 1 = PA-Only - Ortho-Only
Pair 2 = PA-Only - PA + Ortho
Pair 3 = Ortho-Only - PA + Ortho
* Paired difference significant at p < .05
Most Frequently Occurring Spelling Errors Between and Within Grades
A list of specific phonemic and orthographic spelling errors was created from the
targets included in the ESRT (Table 3-13). The frequency of occurrence of these spelling
errors was counted for grades 2, 3, 4, and 5. The number of errors was then converted
into a percentage of the total number of possible errors for each error type by grade
(Tables 3-31 and 3-32). In all four grades, the highest number of phonemic errors
occurred on spelling the long and short vowel represented by the letter . For
example, a common error occurred on the word “zuleps” where the long vowel sound in
the first open syllable was represented with the letter sequence . Similarly, the

94
short vowel sound in the first closed syllable of the word “yuntrude” was often
represented with the letters or .
Table 3-13. Frequent Spelling Error Targets across Grades
Errors of Phonemic Awareness
Orthographic Errors
1.
in open and closed syllables
1,
Adding suffix -s to a root
2.
vowel digraphs, e g.,
2.
Adding suffix -ed to a root
3.
consonant digraphs, e g,
3.
-tch/-ch? -dge/-ge? -ck/-k?
4.
consonant blends, e g., <-nt, ft>
4.
Syllable type: V-Ce
5.
Syllable type: Con-1 e
6.
Doubling rule
7.
/ <0
Table 3-31. Percentage of Phonemic Awareness Error Types by Grade.
Error Types
Grade 2
Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5
in open/closed syllables
51.4%
52.2%
40.7%
36.5%
Vowel digraphs
14.5%
13.2%
7.9%
8.3%
Consonant digraphs
18.9%
17.7%
5.7%
5.2%
Consonant blends
10,3%
9.6%
7.4%
1.5%
In grade 2, a high percent of errors occurred on selection of the appropriate
consonant and vowel digraphs. Fewer errors were made on consonant blends. A similar
pattern of frequency of error types was noted for grade 3 Both digraphs and consonant
blends were problematic spelling targets. In grades 4 and 5, the total percent of errors by
type was relatively reduced. However, in grade 4, an equal percent of errors was made
on vowel digraphs and consonant blends. By grade 5, errors on consonant blends were
markedly reduced, but persisted on vowel and consonant digraphs.

Table 3-32. Percentage of Orthographic Error Types by Grade.
95
Error Types
Grade 2
Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5
-y + s ies
32%
37%
33%
23%
-Vy + s Vys
17%
21%
22%
23%
-sh/ch + s sh/ches
25%
25%
28%
10%
-fe + s -> ves
9%
9%
8%
8%
suffix s -> /z/
12%
17%
9%
12%
Suffix -ed /t/
38%
37%
33%
33%
Suffix -ed -> /id/
23%
11%
8%
5%
-ay + ed ^ -ayed
19%
13%
5%
8%
consonant doubling
38%
39%
37%
22%
drop silent -e
28%
22%
17%
11%
-tch/-ch? -dge/ge? -ck/k?
55%
41%
33%
24%
V Con-e syllable
22%
16%
20%
9%
Con-1 e syllable
17%
25%
24%
15%
Doubling s rule
09%
3%
1%
5%
-ie ei /
15%
15%
12%
18%
In all four grades, the most frequent orthographic error occurred on the rule-based
selection of the consonant combinations , and . Other
prominent orthographic errors involved knowledge of spelling rules for adding the suffix
to a root word that ends in the vowel as well as the three phonetic
representations of the suffix . In other words, children from all four grades had
some degree of difficulty understanding that the form of the suffix remains the same
despite differences in pronunciation. As a result, they tended to select the spelling form
that was closest to the phonetic representation of the word. This trend in spelling
orthographic rule-based patterns from a phonetic standpoint decreased as grade level
increased but did not disappear by grade 5.

Effect of SES on Spelling Performance
96
Approximately one third of the subjects participating in this data set were on free or
reduced lunch status. Within each grade, a similar proportion of subjects were on free or
reduced lunch status (Table 3-33). Descriptive measures showed that subjects on free or
reduced lunch status consistently obtained a lower total test score on the ESRT relative to
their peers who were not on free or reduced lunch (Table 3-33). Both the Kruskal-Wallis
test and the one-way analysis of variance supported the observation that the overall
Table 3-33. Proportion of Subjects on Free/Reduced Lunch by Grade and Descriptive
Measures of their Spelling Performance
Frequency
Percent
Mean
Std
Dev.
Median
1QR
Grade 2
.00
34
77.3
22,9
3.6
23.0
5.25
1.00
10
22.7
21.1
2.8
20.5
4.75
. Grade 3
.00
71
76.3
23.6
4.7
24.0
7.0
1.00
22
23.7
19.7
5.9
19,5
8.25
Grade 4
.00
36
62.1
25.7
3.7
26.0
6.0
1.00
22
37.9
20.7
6 3
20.5
10.25
Grade 5
.00
25
58 1
28.0
3.4
29.0
4.5
1.00
18
41.9
25.3
5.3
27.0
9 25
All
.00
166
20.9
24.6
4 4
25.0
6.0
Grades
1 00
72
22.1
21.6
5.9
21.0
8,0
.00 = paid lunch status, 1.00 = free/ reduced lunch status
spelling performance of the two groups of subjects was significantly different, x2 (1, 237)
= 14.71, p < .05, F (1, 237) = 18.76, p< .05. Flowever, this difference failed to reach
statistical significance for every grade. In grades 3, 4 and 5 respectively, the lunch status
of a child resulted in a statistically significant difference on total test scores. In grade 2,
where 22.7% of the children were on free or reduced lunch, there was no statistically

significant difference in the spelling performance between the two groups, x2 (1,43) =
2.403, p > .05, F (1, 43) = 2.299, p > .05 (Tables 3-34 and 3-35).
97
Table 3-34. Effect of Lunch Status on Spelling Performance by Grade (Kruskal-Wallis
Test).
Lunch
N
Mean Rank
Chi-Square
Df
Asymp. Sig.
Grade 2
.00
34
24.12
2.403
1
.137
100
10
17.00
Grade 3
.00
71
51.70
9.160
1
.002*
1.00
22
31.82
Grade 4
.00
36
34 90
9 763
1
.000*
LOO
22
20.66
Grade 5
.00
25
24.48
2.356
1
.025*
1.00
18
18.56
* Difference significant at p < .05
Table 3-35. Effect of Lunch Status on Spelling Performance by Grade (ANOVA).
Sum of
Squares
Df
Mean Square
F
Sig-
Grade 2
Bet Groups
27.04
1
27.04
2.30
.137
Within Groups
493.87
42
11.76
Total
520.91
43
Grade 3
Bet Groups
253.05
1
253.05
10.21
.002*
Within Groups
2256.24
91
24.79
Total
2509.29
92
Grade 4
Bet Groups
346.92
1
346.92
14.67
.000*
Within Groups
1323.99
56
23.64
Total
1670.91
57
Grade 5
Bet Groups
77.55
1
77.55
4.25
.046*
Within Groups
747.61
41
18.23
Total
825.16
42
* Difference significant at p < .05

98
Descriptive measures also showed that subjects on free or reduced lunch status
consistently obtained lower scores on the three subtests of the ESRT, the PA-Only, the
Ortho-Only, and the PA + Ortho, relative to their peers who were not on free or reduced
lunch (Table 3-36). Regardless of SES, scores on the Ortho-Only spelling pattern were
generally lower than on the PA-Only and the PA + Ortho spelling patterns in all four
grades.
Table 3-36. Descriptive Measures of Performance on three Spelling Patterns by Grade
and SES.
PA-Only Ortho-Only PA + Ortho
Mean
(SD)
Median
(1QR)
Mean
(SD)
Median
(1QR)
Mean
(SD)
Median
(IQR)
Grade 2
.00
8.56
9.00
5.83
5.80
5 68
5.40
0.52)
(2.00)
(1.58)
(2.10)
(1.63)
(1.97)
1.00
8.30
9.00
5.00
5.00
5.15
4.60
(1.63)
(1.75)
(1.62)
(2.25)
(1.31)
(1.17)
Grade 3
.00
8.04
8.00
5.94
5.80
6.33
6.90
(1.67)
(3.00)
(1.88)
(2.50)
(1.72)
(2.30)
1.00
6.95
7.50
5.04
5.00
5.02
5.00
(2.63)
(4.00)
(1.92)
(2.50)
(174)
(2.40)
Grade 4
.00
9.18
9.00
6.86
6.70
7.15
7,70
(0.99)
(1.00)
(1.45)
(1.70)
(1.57)
(2.30)
1.00
7.85
9.00
5.77
5.80
6.14
6.20
(2.10)
(2.00)
(2.23)
(3.30)
(1.63)
(2.90)
Grade 5
.00
9.24
9.00
7.22
7.50
7.70
7.70
(0.92)
(1.00)
(1 58)
(130)
(1.34)
(1.95)
100
8.72
9.00
6 91
7.10
6.36
6.90
(1.27)
(2.25)
(2.04)
(4.20)
(1 80)
(2.50)
.00 — paid lunch status; 1.00 = free or reduced lunch status

99
Summary of Results
Parallel analysis of two sets of data collected on the ESRT yielded similar results,
thus suggesting that performance on the spelling recognition task was representative of a
regional sample of elementary school children The seven hypotheses, derived from the
Data Exploration, were tested on another sample of data and found to be valid. The
results of the analysis of scores obtained on the ESRT by children attending grades 2, 3,
4, and 5 in Alachua County are summarized below:
1.A significant improvement in spelling performance occurs between (a) grades 2
and 4, (b) grades 2 and 5, (c) grades 3 and 4, and (d) grades 3 and 5.
2.Within each grade, children obtain the highest score on words of the PA-Only
spelling pattern and the lowest score on words of the Ortho-Only spelling pattern
3.Within each grade, there is a significant spelling difference between (a) words of
the PA-Only pattern and Ortho-Only pattern, and (b) words of the PA-Only
pattern and PA + Ortho pattern
4 In spelling words of the PA-Only, the Ortho-Only and the PA + Ortho patterns
respectively, there is a significant improvement between (a) grades 2 and 4, (b)
grades 2 and 5, c) grades 3 and 4, and d) grades 3 and 5.
5. The most frequent phonemic spelling errors in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5 include (a)
representation of the long or short vowel by the letter and (b) spelling vowel
digraphs.
6. The most frequent orthographic spelling errors in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5 include (a)
the rule-based selection of consonant combinations like - tch/-ch, -dge/ge and -
ck/k, and (b) the understanding that a suffix may have several phonetic forms
which, based on rules, may or may not require changes in spelling forms.
7. SES, determined by lunch status, has a significant effect on overall spelling
performance This effect however is not consistent across all four grades.

100
Combined Data Sets
Independent analysis of the data exploration set and the hypothesis testing data set
revealed similar trends of spelling performance on the ESRT within grades and between
grades. Additionally, there were no statistically significant differences in spelling
performance by grade between the two data sets (Table 3-37).
Table 3-37. ANOVA for Spelling Performance by Grade and Data Set.
Sum of
Squares
Df
Mean Square
F
Sig-
Grade 2
Between Groups
6.127
1
6.127
.193
094
Within Groups
1625.251
80
20.316
Total
1771.378
81
Grade 3
Between Groups
2,246
1
2.246
317
.068
Within Groups
3879.725
137
28.319
Total
4001.971
138
Grade 4
Between Groups
.855
1
,855
.045
.702
Within Groups
2468,457
91
27.126
Total
2605.312
92
Grade 5
Between Groups
.892
1
.892
.045
.832
Within Groups
1533.595
78
19.661
Total
1534 488
79
* Difference significant at p < .05
Standardized ESRT Scores
Since spelling performance on the ESRT was found to be similar in both sets of
data, the two samples were combined and raw scores were converted into standard scores
with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15. Corresponding percentile ranks were
also computed Table 3-38 shows the standard scores and percentile ranks for the total
ESRT scores for grades 2, 3, 4, and 5 Examination of the standard scores across the four

101
grades replicates the improvement in spelling performance noted between grades 2 and 4,
grades 2 and 5, grades 3 and 4, and grades 3 and 5 respectively.
Table 3-39 shows the standard scores and corresponding percentile ranks for the
phonemic awareness only items (PA-Only) for grades 2, 3, 4, and 5. Examination of the
standard scores replicates the between-grade pattern of performance as well as the within-
grade pattern of performance noted in the analysis when children spell items that require
only phonemic awareness.
Table 3-40 shows the standard scores and their corresponding percentile ranks for
the orthographic rule knowledge only (Ortho-Only) items for grades 2, 3,4, and 5.
Examination of the standard scores across the four grades replicates the between-grade as
well as the within-grade spelling pattern noted in the analysis. A difference in spelling
items that require only orthographic rule knowledge occurs between grades 2 and 4,
grades 2 and 5, grades 3 and 4, and grades 3 and 5
Table 3-41 shows the standard scores and their corresponding percentile ranks for
items requiring phonemic awareness and orthographic rule knowledge (PA + Ortho) for
grades 2, 3, 4, and 5. Examination of the standard scores obtained on this spelling item
between-grades and within-grades replicates the findings of the analysis. A difference in
performance occurs between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5, grades 3 and 4, and grades 3
and 5.
Individual Profiles of Spelling Performance across Grades
This section presents individual spelling profiles of children from grades 2, 3, 4, and
5. Performance on the total ESRT and its three subtests, the PA-Only, the Ortho-Only,
and the PA + Ortho spelling patterns, is represented in standard scores. The selection of

Table 3-38. Standard scores and percentiles for total ESRT scores.
102
Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5
Raw
Score
Standard
Score
%
Standard
Score
%
Standard
Score
%
Standard
Score
%
Raw
Score
0
32
0
39
0
30
0
9
0
0
1
35
0
42
0
33
0
12
0
1
2
38
0
44
0
36
0
15
0
2
3
41
0
47
0
39
0
19
0
3
4
44
0
50
0
41
0
22
0
4
5
47
0
53
0
44
0
26
0
5
6
52
0
55
0
47
0
30
0
6
7
55
0
58
0
50
0
32
0
7
8
58
0
61
0
53
0
36
0
8
9
61
0
64
0
56
0
39
0
9
10
64
0
67
1
58
0
43
0
10
11
67
1
69
2
61
0
46
0
11
12
71
2
72
3
64
1
49
0
12
13
73
3
75
5
67
1
53
0
13
14
77
6
78
6
70
2
56
0
14
15
80
9
80
9
72
3
60
0
15
16
83
13
83
13
75
5
63
0
16
17
86
18
86
18
78
8
67
1
17
18
89
24
89
24
81
9
70
2
18
19
92
30
92
30
84
13
73
3
19
20
95
38
94
34
87
18
77
6
20
21
98
46
97
42
89
24
80
9
21
22
101
53
100
50
92
30
84
13
22
23
106
65
103
57
95
38
87
21
23
24
109
72
105
65
98
46
90
27
24
25
112
78
108
69
101
53
94
34
25
26
115
84
111
75
104
57
97
42
26
27
118
88
114
81
106
65
101
51
27
28
121
91
117
86
109
72
104
61
28
29
124
94
119
90
112
78
107
69
29
30
r"i27
96
122
93
115
84
111
75
30
31
131
98
125
95
118
88
114
81
31
32
134
98
128
96
121
91
118
88
32
33
137
99
130
97
124
94
121
91
33
34
140
99
133
98
126
95
124
94
34
35
143
99
136
99
129
97
127
97
35

103
Table 3-39. Standard scores and percentiles for phonemic awareness only items (PA-
Only)
Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5
Raw
Score
Standard
Score
%
Standard
Score
%
Standard
Score
%
Standard
Score
%
Raw
Score
0
26
0
39
0
29
0
-22
0
0
1
35
0
47
0
37
0
-19
0
1
2
45
0
55
0
46
0
-9
0
2
3
54
0
63
0
54
0
4
0
3
4
63
0
71
2
62
0
18
0
4
5
73
3
79
8
71
2
32
0
5
6
82
11
99
18
79
8
45
0
6
7
91
27
94
34
87
21
55
0
7
8
101
53
102
53
96
38
73
3
8
9
110
86
110
75
104
61
86
18
9
10
120
90
118
88
112
78
114
81
10
Table 3-40. Standard Scores and percentiles for orthographic rule knowledge only items
(Ortho-Only)
Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5
Raw
Score
Standard
Score
%
Standard
Score
%
Standard
Score
%
Standard
Score
%
Raw
Score
0
56
0
56
0
50
0
44
0
0
1
65
1
64
0
58
0
52
0
1
2
73
3
73
3
66
0
60
0
2
3
82
11
80
9
74
4
68
1
3
4
90
24
88
21
82
11
75
5
4
5
98
46
96
38
90
24
83
13
5
6
107
65
104
61
98
46
91
27
6
7
115
84
112
78
105
65
99
48
7
8
123
93
120
90
113
81
107
69
8
9
132
98
128
96
121
91
115
84
9
10
140
99
135
99
129
97
123
93
10
11
148
99
143
99
137
99
130
97
11
12
157
99
151
99
145
99
139
99
12

Table 3-41 Standard Scores and percentiles for items requiring both phonemic
awareness and orthographic rule knowledge (PA + Ortho).
104
Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5
Raw
Score
Standard
Score
%
Standard
Score
%
Standard
Score
%
Standard
Score
%
Raw
Score
0
52
0
54
0
44
0
33
0
0
1
61
0
62
0
52
0
43
0
1
2
70
2
70
2
61
0
52
0
2
3
79
8
78
6
69
2
61
0
3
4
88
21
86
18
77
6
71
2
4
5
96
42
93
34
86
18
80
9
5
6
105
61
101
53
94
34
90
24
6
7
114
81
109
72
102
57
99
46
7
8
123
93
117
86
110
75
108
72
8
9
132
98
125
95
119
90
118
88
9
10
140
99
133
98
127
96
127
96
10
11
149
99
141
99
136
99
136
99
11
12
158
99
149
99
144
99
145
99
12
13
167
99
157
99
152
99
155
99
13
profiles was based on the total standardized test score. One set of profiles represented a
total test score that fell 1 SD below the mean performance for that grade Another set of
profiles represented a total test score that fell at least 1.5 SD below the mean performance
for that grade. In this preliminary analysis, four types of spelling profiles emerged: (1)
marked deficit in phonemic awareness only, (2) marked deficit in orthographic
knowledge only, (3) deficit in phonemic awareness but average orthographic knowledge,
and (4) overall depressed spelling skills in all three areas of phonemic awareness,
orthographic knowledge, and the combination of both elements occurring within the same
word Table 3-42 shows samples of the first type of spelling profile by three children
who scored 1 SD below the mean grade performance on the PA - Only spelling pattern
Performance on the Ortho - Only and the PA + Ortho spelling patterns was within 1 SD
from the mean grade performance. In some profiles, performance on the PA + Ortho

spelling performance was average while in other profiles, spelling performance on this
combined spelling pattern was a clear strength (see Profile 3 in Table 3-42).
105
Table 3-42. Individual Spelling Profiles Reported in Standard Scores (x = 100, SD = 15).
Profile 1
Profile 2
Profile 3
Total Test Score
83*
81*
77*
PA - Only Score
73*
80*
73*
Ortho - Only Score
90
98
88
PA + Ortho Score
114
86
99
* standard score at least 1 SD below mean grade performance
Table 3-43 shows the spelling profile of a 2nd grader who scored within the mean
range on the PA - Only and the PA + Ortho spelling patterns but exhibited a marked
deficit in orthographic knowledge. This child’s total test score was consequently
depressed and fell 1.5 SD below the mean grade performance.
Table 3-43. Individual Spelling Profile Reported in Standard Scores (x = 100, SD = 15).
Profile 1
Total Test Score
73*
PA -Only Score
91
Ortho - Only Score
65*
PA + Ortho Score
96
* standard score at least 1 SD below mean grade performance

106
Table 3-44 shows two profiles characterized by a deficit in phonemic awareness but
average orthographic knowledge. Performance on the PA + Ortho spelling pattern was
inconsistent in this spelling profile. One child performed poorly while the second child
showed average performance.
Table 3-44. Individual Spelling Profiles Reported in Standard Scores (x = 100, SD = 15).
Profile 1
Profile 2
Total Test Score
69*
77*
PA - Only Score
63*
55*
Ortho - Only Score
104
99
PA + Ortho Score
70*
90
* standard score at least 1 SD below mean grade performance
Table 3-45 shows three spelling profiles characterized by generalized weakness in
phonemic awareness and orthographic knowledge. These children also exhibited poor
abilities to recruit and integrate the two forms of knowledge within the same word, as
represented by the PA + Ortho spelling pattern.
Table 3-45. Individual Spelling Profiles Reported in Standard Scores (x = 100, SD = 15).
Profile ! Profile 2 Profile 3
Total Test Score 50* 56* 67*
PA-Only Score 71* 45* 45*
Ortho - Only Score 50* 68* 75*
PA + Ortho Score 61* 80* 99
* standard score at least 1 SD below mean grade performance

CHAPTER 4
DISCUSSION
The purpose of this study was to examine developmental spelling patterns in normal
children attending grades 2, 3, 4, and 5. Children’s performance on the Early Spelling
Recognition Test (ESRT) suggested an improvement in spelling abilities across the four
elementary school grades. In addition, an examination of the spelling performance on the
three spelling patterns PA-Only (phonemic awareness only), Ortho-Only (orthographic
rule knowledge only) and PA + Ortho (combined phonemic awareness and orthographic
rule knowledge) reflected a similar trend in improvement of spelling abilities across
grades 2 through 5. Within each grade, children performed best on words of the PA-Only
pattern and least well on words of the Ortho-Only pattern.
A secondary purpose of this study was to develop a preliminary tool for the
screening and/or assessment of spelling abilities in second, third, fourth and fifth graders.
As an initial step in this task, the ESRT was administered to two independent samples
(the data exploration set and the hypothesis testing data set) of children from grades 2, 3,
4, and 5. The statistical comparison of the groups indicated similar patterns of spelling
performance in the two samples, suggesting that the samples were homogeneous and
representative of the elementary school population in Gainesville, Florida.
The findings of this study will be discussed in the order of the experimental
questions posed. First, does spelling recognition performance show similar patterns of
improvement from 2” 107

108
spelling patterns (PA-Only, Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho) show similar patterns of
improvement from 2nd to 5th grades? Third, does within-grade performance on each of the
three spelling patterns (PA-Only, Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho) show a pattern of
difficulty in types of target words? And fourth, do the two data sets exhibit similar
patterns of performance on the ESRT, and if they do, how does the combined data from
the sets translate into scaled scores for clinical use? Answers to each of these questions
will be discussed based on the results of the statistical analyses, then related to the
findings from previous studies and finally interpreted in terms of theories of spelling
acquisition and clinical applications.
Developmental Spelling Performance across Grades
When total test scores on the ESRT were compared across grades 2, 3, 4 and 5, a
statistically significant difference in spelling performance was noted between grades 2
and 4, grades 2 and 5, grades 3 and 4 and grades 3 and 5. No significant improvement in
spelling performance occurred between grades 2 and 3 and grades 4 and 5. A similar
pattern of performance was found in the two data sets.
A pattern of developmental spelling in which marked improvement in abilities does
not necessarily occur between two consecutive grade levels has not been documented in
any known study on the acquisition patterns of spelling in normal children. Standardized
measures of spelling assessment such as the WRAT-3 (Jastak and Wilkinson, 1993) and
the TWS-2 (Larsen and Hammill, 1986) are based on the assumption that there exists a
consistent increment in spelling abilities between two consecutive school grade levels.
This assumption of noticeably significant development in spelling skills between two
consecutive school grades is supported by the increasing mean score values for each
grade level sample. One possible explanation for this consistent development in spelling

109
abilities by grade rests in the choice of test items used to determine level of performance.
Both the WRAT-3 and the TWS-2 have compiled a list of spelling items drawn from
basal reading books and an experiential pool of most frequently encountered vocabulary
items. Within this context, a marked improvement in spelling skills is expected to occur
by virtue of regular exposure to a set of printed words and accumulation of print forms
over a specific period of time. Informal spelling assessment tools also recognize
consistent grade-wise increments in a child’s spelling abilities. The Qualitative Inventory
of Word Knowledge (Henderson, 1990) consists of word lists drawn from a larger pool of
words that were used to construct basal spelling books for each grade level. Although the
words in each graded list are supposed to represent the developmental progression of
children’s concepts about print, there is little evidence to support whether or not words in
each list accurately reflect the acquisition of spelling concepts across each successive
grade level.
A possible explanation for the absence of differences in spelling performance
between the ESRT scores reported in this study for grades 2 and 3 as well as grades 4 and
5 rests on the choice of test items. Since nonsense words were designed to capture basic
spelling concepts of letter-sound associations and orthographic rules, it would appear that
once children acquire certain concepts, they need time to internalize that knowledge
through practice with other words of a similar structure. This would mean that in grade
2, children are exposed to a few letter-sound associations and orthographic rules. This
knowledge is developed during grade 3 where they practice and generalize their spelling
skills to a larger pool of vocabulary items. A similar learning trend is likely to occur
between grades 4 and 5, a time interval that represents a period of lexical, morphological
and syntactic development for written language. It appears that children who scored

110
significantly above or below the grade average represent a subpopulation of learners with
either faster or slower learning assimilation abilities.
Another possible explanation for the absence of differences in spelling performance
between the ESRT scores reported in this study for grades 2 and 3 as well as grades 4 and
5 may be attributed to the educational backgrounds of the children. The second graders
in this study are receiving phonics-based reading instruction and are expected to possess
a more solid foundation in analytic letter-sound correspondences and phonological
awareness. The third, fourth, and fifth graders in this study are products of the whole
language approach to reading and spelling. Overall, their foundation in phonological
awareness is expected to be less well developed than children who receive a uniquely
phonics-based reading instruction from first grade.
The ESRT data analysis was performed on two independent samples, the data
exploration set and the hypothesis testing data set. Although findings in both data sets
showed similar trends of spelling performance across grades 2, 3, 4, and 5, a comparison
of the grade mean and median scores in each set does not show perfectly matching
numerical values (e.g., x = 19.9 and M = 19.5 for grade 2 in the data exploration set while
x = 22.5 and M = 23.0 for grade 2 in the hypothesis testing data set) (Table 4-1). This
difference in mean and median scores suggests that within the same grade, there exists
variability in the range of normal spelling performance and this variability provides more
clinical flexibility when assessing the spelling abilities of a child. In other words, the
total test score on the ESRT will allow the clinician to determine not only if a child’s
spelling skills fall within the range of average performance for his/her grade but also if
this child is performing at the lower/upper end of the spectrum of the mean performance
for his/her grade. Information of this nature is essential in determining if a child has a

spelling disorder and assists in identifying a child’s specific areas of weaknesses and
strengths.
Ill
Table 4-1 Comparison of Total ESRT Scores by Grade and by Data Set
Data Exploration Set Hypothesis Testing Data Set
Grade
Median
Mean
Median
Mean
Grade 2
19.5
19.9
23.0
22.5
Grade 3
21.5
20.6
22.0
22.6
Grade 4
28 0
26.3
24.5
23.8
Grade 5
28.0
26,6
28 0
26.9
Between-Grade Performance on Spelling Patterns
English spelling is a complex, yet predictable integration of letter-sound
associations, morpho-phonemic influences and orthographic rules (Moats, 1995). In this
study, developmental spelling patterns were examined relative to three basic patterns, 1)
words that require awareness of letter-sound associations only (PA-Only), 2) words that
require knowledge of orthographic rules only (Ortho-Only), and 3) words that require a
combination of letter-sound associations and orthographic rule knowledge (PA + Ortho).
Between-grade performance on each of these three spelling patterns showed an
improvement in skills from grades 2 through 5. Independent examination of the
performance on the three spelling patterns showed that a statistically significant
difference occurred between grades 2 and 4, grades 2 and 5, grades 3 and 4 and grades 3
and 5. No significant difference in performance occurred between grades 2 and 3 and
grades 4 and 5 for any of the patterns
These findings of developing knowledge in phonological awareness and
orthographic rule knowledge from grade 2 upwards do not support the dual route model

112
of spelling processes (Barry, 1994; Ellis, 1993; Frith, 1980a). According to the dual
route model, the process of spelling may occur through two distinct paths, a visual-
orthographic route and a phonological-orthographic route. A speller will encode words
either by visual memorization of words and analogy to familiar words, or by analysis of
sounds and application of orthographic rules. In this model of spelling processes,
information from the two pathways is hardly ever shared. If children acquired spelling
skills as proposed by the dual route model, early spellers would not exhibit the ability to
integrate phonics and orthographic rule knowledge within the same word. This ability to
integrate two types of knowledge within the same word would be acquired in later stages
of spelling development. This implies that performance on the spelling pattern PA +
Ortho would be very poor in grades 2 and 3, but begin to improve from grades 4 and 5.
Depending on the method of reading and spelling instruction, children in grade 2 would
exhibit average performance on one of the two spelling patterns of PA-Only and Ortho-
Only. Visual spellers would perform better on the Ortho-Only spelling patterns while
phonics-based spellers would perform better on the PA-Only spelling patterns.
In this study, the findings of developing knowledge in three basic aspects of English
spelling lend experimental support to Ehri’s amalgamation theory of spelling acquisition
(1991, 1992a, 1992b, 1993). Contrary to the view of earlier stage models where spelling
acquisition is broken down into distinct stages of knowledge, namely the semi-phonetic,
the phonetic and the morphemic pattern stages (Gentry, 1982; Henderson and Beers,
1982), Ehri’s model proposes that spelling acquisition is a continuous learning process in
which children master the complexities of the English spelling structure by
experimenting with multiple creative strategies. Although varied in nature, these
strategies simultaneously integrate the phonological and orthographic elements of

113
spelling. The extent of this integration is not, however, exactly equal at any time during
the process of learning. In the early stages, spelling strategies are invariably tied to a
child’s underlying awareness of phonological units and rudimentary knowledge of letter-
sound associations. While experimenting with any one pattern of spelling forms, Ehri
stresses the point that children also employ other strategies drawn not only from their
knowledge of phonological units such as rhymes, onsets or individual letter-sound
correspondences, but also from an awareness of orthographic conventions gained through
early literacy experiences. Hence, as confirmed by an experimental study on
kindergartners and first-graders (Cassar and Treiman, 1997), spellers are sensitive to
simple and highly frequent orthographic rules such as doubling the word-final consonant
after a short vowel, as early as in first grade. This aspect of the amalgamation model
of spelling acquisition is observed in the findings of the present study.
Compared to the average performance in higher grades, second graders performed
relatively poorly on all three spelling patterns. Nevertheless, the mean performance on
each of the three spelling patterns showed a grasp of both letter-sound associations (as
reflected by the mean PA-Only score) and some orthographic rules (as reflected by lower
mean scores on the Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho patterns). A similar trend was noted for
grade 3, suggesting that at this stage, children were still relying heavily on phonemic
segmentation skills and have not mastered any additional orthographic spelling
conventions. Performance in grades 4 and 5 exhibited a shift in emphasis on the nature
of spelling strategies. As proposed by the amalgamation model of spelling acquisition,
later stages of spelling acquisition are characterized largely by mastery of morpho-
phonemic influences and orthographic conventions; translation of phoneme-grapheme
correspondences becomes secondary as a consequence of extensive practice and

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exposure. The almost perfect scores on the PA-Only items and the comparably higher
scores on the Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho items in grades 4 and 5 reflect continual
refinement of phonemic awareness in addition to developing syntactic and morphological
knowledge. Earlier letter-sound spelling strategies are almost suppressed by grade 4 and
new strategies, such as print consistency of affixes and acceptability of letter sequences,
emerge to decode the more complex structures of the language. The findings of this
study suggest that by grade 5, children should have established strong connections for
basic letter-sound associations and have begun to develop the more complex rules of
orthography within a syntactic and semantic context.
The finding that children are conscious of both phonemic and orthographic
integration from the early stages of spelling development has useful implications for
clinical assessment and intervention. Children with weak phonological processing skills
will score poorly on the PA-Only and the PA + Ortho items. In lower grades (i.e., grades
2 and 3), a profile of poor performance on spelling items that require letter-sound
associations is very likely to serve as a predictor of children at risk for reading and
spelling achievement. Furthermore, these young children will not perform well on the
Ortho-Only items since orthographic rule knowledge, still in its immature stages of
development, lacks strong connections with the representation of sounds into print.
Consequently, intervention goals should aim to strengthen the letter-sound associations
while exposing the student to simple and frequent orthographic rules. A fourth or fifth
grader who exhibits a profile of poor performance on the PA-Only and the PA + Ortho
spelling items has a deficient phonological processor and is very likely having marked
problems with academic tasks that involve reading and spelling. Some bright children
have a good visual memory and are able to store the spellings of words frequently used in

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their lexicon. These children will spell the Ortho-Only items fairly well if they can draw
appropriate analogies with words stored in their visual memory. If they fail to find the
appropriate analogy, or recall the memorized string of letters incompletely, their spellings
will be incorrect. However, their performance on the PA-Only items will always be
depressed since these items are nonsense words and tap into the speller’s ability to
segment strings into phonemes and associate each phoneme with the conventionally
acceptable letter. This population of students will require intensive training in phonemic
awareness tasks, letter-sound associations and orthographic rules that dictate morpho-
phonemic variations in spelling, for example, the doubling of a consonant when adding a
suffix.
Within-Grade Performance on Spelling Patterns
Performance on the three spelling patterns, PA-Only, Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho,
was examined within each grade. Results showed that in each of the four grades,
children consistently performed best on the PA-Only items and least well on the Ortho-
Only items. Performance on the PA + Ortho items was consistently lower than on the
Ortho-Only items but slightly higher than on the PA-Only items. Statistical analysis
showed a significant difference in performance between the PA-Only and Ortho-Only
items, and between the PA-Only and PA + Ortho items in all four grades. No significant
difference occurred between the Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho items in grades 3, 4 and 5.
In grade 2 however, a statistically significant difference in performance was noted
between the Ortho-Only and the PA + Ortho items also for both data sets. In the
hypothesis testing data set, a statistically significant difference in performance was also
noted between the Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho spelling patterns in grade 3.

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Quantitative and Qualitative Evidence for the Amalgamation Theory
Performance on these within-grade spelling patterns reinforces the validity of Etna's
amalgamation theory of spelling acquisition (1992b). At the second grade level, children
showed a basic level of competence in both letter-sound associations and some
knowledge of orthographic rules. Performance on spelling items that required phonemic
awareness only was good, suggesting the strengthening of connections between sounds
and letters. Performance on spelling items that required knowledge of orthographic rules
such as doubling the word final [s] after a short vowel, was less accurate, suggesting that
although connections between the phonetic form of a word and its corresponding
sequence of conventional letters did exist in the child’s memory, connections strengths
were still weak and unstable. This co-existence of stable and weak connections in grade
2 is reflected by the performance on the combined PA + Ortho spelling items. This
spelling pattern consists of a phonemic awareness target followed by an orthographic rule
knowledge target. For instance, the spelling item “snate” targets the word initial
consonant blend and the vowel lengthening orthographic rule. For second graders, and
some 3rd graders too, this spelling item was significantly more difficult than the items
requiring only phonemic awareness because connections between sounds and letters were
not yet sufficiently solid to be encoded automatically. In addition, the weaker
orthographic connections needed to be recruited to encode the second part of the target
word. Beginning spellers consequently used neither their phonemic awareness
knowledge skillfully nor their immature orthographic rule knowledge and invariably
selected the incorrect form of the word. Although performance on the items requiring
only orthographic rule knowledge was poorer than on the combined items, early spellers
selected the correct form for all the spelling items that targeted a rule established and

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stabilized in their memory. For example, the spelling item “many hods” targeted
recognition of the short vowel and the voiced plural variant /z/ when preceded by the
voiced sound Id/. A large proportion of children in both samples knew the letter-sound
correspondence for the short vowel sound and selected the appropriate word. However,
they were not aware of the linguistic convention that the phonetic context of a word
dictates the pronunciation of the plural morpheme “-s” without necessarily changing its
spelling form. As a result, this group of children selected the form “many hodz” by
applying regular letter-sound correspondence rules. Spelling performance in grades 4
and 5 reflects the establishment of strong connections for correspondences between a
sound and the conventional letter. Consequently, children in both grades obtained almost
perfect scores on the PA-Only spelling items. In grades 4 and 5, most of the children
appeared to have mastered early orthographic spelling rules such as the doubling of the
word final [s/fj when preceded by a short vowel. Connections for more complex
orthographic rules, such as the doubling of a consonant when adding a suffix, or
variations to the root word when adding the suffix “-s”, were not acquired by the majority
of the children. The median score for the Ortho-Only items ranged between 6.7 and 7.5
in grades 4 and 5. Errors at this grade level occurred on the more complex orthographic
rules. Because no significant differences in performance were found between the Ortho-
Only and the PA + Ortho spelling items for children in grades 4 and 5, it appears that
they were able to transfer their letter-sound encoding knowledge skillfully to all word
types; at the same time, they had well established connections for the most frequently
occurring orthographic rules.
Children’s performance on the three types of spelling patterns also sheds light on the
process of spelling. Evidence for the integration of phonemic and orthographic

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information needed for spelling is clearly provided by children’s performance on the
three types of spelling patterns as early as grade 2. As proposed by the connectionist
model of spelling processes (Hotiman and Norris, 1989; Seidenberg and McClelland,
1989), whenever a word is to be spelled, all relevant knowledge is activated in memory,
initiating an interaction between the phonemic, syntactic, morphological and semantic
aspects of word structure. Knowledge-based connections are learned and stored as
orthographic images which, with increasing knowledge and exposure to print, become
part of a bank of possible lexical items. A child’s performance is dependent on retrieval
of the correct orthographic image, and in the case of nonsense words, the retrieval of a
similar sounding orthographic image followed by the appropriate letter and orthographic
amendments. Within each grade, children were able to recruit information across the
phonemic and the orthographic modules; in grades 2 and 3, the connections for phonemic
images were stronger than for the orthographic images, hence lower scores were obtained
on nonsense words of the PA + Ortho and the Ortho-Only patterns. In grades 4 and 5, the
images for phonemic awareness spelling associations were well bonded in memory and
most children recognized the appropriate spelling form automatically; they scored high
on the PA-Only items and performed correctly on the phonemic awareness section of the
PA + Ortho items. Errors occurred on the orthographic rules for which connections and
images were not fully developed.
Post-hoc qualitative error analyses were conducted to examine the proportion of
specific errors across grades. In each grade, errors on vowel sounds and corresponding
letters represented the highest proportion of phonemic errors, thus underscoring the
importance of phonological awareness from the earliest grades. The highest proportion
of orthographic rule errors consisted of phonetic representations of morpho-phonemic

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variations, such as the past tense “-ed”, or the plural “-s”. In addition to providing
evidence in support of the connectionist theory of the spelling process, these findings
suggest a sequence in the acquisition of letter-sound correspondences and orthographic
rule knowledge by level of difficulty within a grade.
Individual Spelling Profiles and their Relationship to the Amalgamation Theory
The qualitative analysis of spelling errors, as revealed by performance on the ESRT,
suggests that some concepts, such as vowels and phonetically variant morphemes, are
inherently more difficult than others to assimilate during the course of normal spelling
acquisition. This hypothesis implies that children with a diagnosis of specific reading
disability or developmental dyslexia are likely to face more problems than their peers in
learning these inherently difficult spelling concepts as a result of a core deficit in letter-
sound correspondences, morpho-phonological awareness and orthographic rule
knowledge. In fact, this hypothesis is verified by the literature related to the nature of
spelling errors made by dyslexic students ( Moats, 1995; 1983). All of these studies
report a propensity for implausible vowel substitutions, deletion of stressed and
unstressed syllables and phonetic representation of the morphemes “-s” and “-ed”. A
qualitative analysis of the spelling errors made by children whose total ESRT score fell
1.5 standard deviations below the grade mean, is likely to underscore a core weakness in
spelling of vowels, unstressed syllables and the morphemes “-s” and “-ed”. Individual
spelling profiles of children who exhibited poor performance on the ESRT further
emphasized the tenet that phonemic awareness is an essential component of successful
spelling. Examination of these individual spelling profiles however also emphasized the
importance of orthographic knowledge as a component of successful spelling. In
accordance with the amalgamation theory of spelling acquisition, the successful speller

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needs to establish strong connections between phonemic and the orthographic routes.
Weakness within any one route as well as between the connecting paths can result in poor
spelling skills. As shown by the individual profiles of a few poor spellers randomly
selected from the data pool, a weakness in phonemic awareness depresses the overall
spelling performance. A few case profiles indicated average phonemic awareness but
very poor orthographic skills, suggesting an imbalance in the development of connections
between the two routes required for spelling. A few other case profiles indicated average
orthographic knowledge but a marked weakness in phonemic awareness, suggesting the
development of the visual route for spelling through possible high exposure to print, but
an underlying deficit in basic phonemic awareness concepts. Such individuals are likely
to show a repertoire of spelling skills that are limited to familiar words; the ability to
analyze and encode novel words is essentially deficient.
Information on the level of difficulty of specific phonemic and orthographic spelling
patterns should provide clinicians with more accurate tools and guidelines in the
assessment process. Data of this nature should help clinicians determine (a) the strength
of the connections between phonemic awareness and orthographic rule knowledge in a
child’s mind and (b) a child’s specific areas of weaknesses and strengths relative to the
average performance of children in grades 2 through 5.
Design of the ESRT
According to Moats (1995), a well-designed measure of spelling should (1) sample
the test on a representative group of subjects, (2) sample the broad domain of
orthographic patterns, sound-symbol relationships, and morpho-phonemic patterns that
must be learned by the writer of English, (3) contain a wide enough range of items.

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especially at lower skill levels, to measure development in small increments, and (4) have
concurrent validity.
One of the first criteria when selecting a representative sample of subjects rests on
an adequate sample size. Although a total of 392 children from grades 2, 3, 4 and 5 were
administered the ESRT, this number was determined by the number of consent forms
signed by parents and the availability of children at the respective schools. Examination
of the distribution of total test scores in each grade suggested that all samples were not
normally distributed. Consequently, non-parametric methods of analysis, which do not
assume a normal distribution of data, were used to examine patterns of spelling
performance. Simultaneously, parametric methods of analysis were also used as a
parallel means of comparison. Although in one instance only the parametric methods
detected a difference in performance between the Ortho-Only and the PA + Ortho
spelling patterns in grade 3, both methods of analysis yielded consistently similar results,
suggesting that sample size takes into account the lack of normality, thus validating the
use of parametric methods of statistical analysis.
The ESRT was administered to two randomly selected, but independent samples of
children attending grades 2 through 5 in Gainesville, Florida. Comparison of the spelling
performance of the two data sets showed similar trends across and within grades on total
test scores as well as on the individual spelling patterns. Although the actual mean and
median values were not identical on all measures of interest in the two data sets, there
was no statistically significant difference between the two sets, suggesting a range of
normal variability in spelling performance.
Almost one third of the subjects in each of the data sets were on free or reduced
lunch status, the criterion used to divide children into one of two levels of socioeconomic

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status (SES). It seems reasonable to assume that at least one third of any population
belongs to the lower social strata. Hence, the ratio of 1:3 in this study appears to be
sufficiently representative of the socioeconomic strata for school age children.
Descriptive measures showed that subjects on free or reduced lunch status consistently
obtained a lower total test score on the ESRT relative to their peers who were not on free
or reduced lunch. A similar trend was noted for the performance on the three spelling
patterns, PA-Only, Ortho-Only, and PA + Ortho, where children from a low SES
consistently obtained a lower score relative to their peers who came from a middle-class
SES. Statistical analysis indicated a significant difference between the spelling
performance of the two SES groupings for grades 3 and 4 in the data exploration set, and
for grades 3, 4, and 5 in the hypothesis testing set. In both data sets, there was no
significant difference in spelling performance between the two SES groups in grade 2.
Although there is research-based evidence that a deprived socioeconomic environment
can be a potential risk factor in the development of language and language-related skills
(Snow, Bums, & Griffin, 1998; Hart & Risley, 1995), its influence on spelling
performance, as depicted by analysis of scores on the ESRT, is not consistent across all
grades and all populations. The absence of any difference in spelling performance
between the two SES groups in grade 2 may be explained by the fact that early spellers
are still in an experimenting stage and exposure to literacy artifacts, such as writing
material or computer games, has had a balanced impact on both groups of children. Most
children in grade 2 are capable of assimilating only a limited amount of information;
overexposure or stimulation does not appear to influence spelling skills to a marked
degree. In higher grades, the learning environment appears to play a greater role in
strengthening the sound-letter associations necessary for accurate spelling.

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Disadvantaged children may not receive sufficient reinforcement of concepts learned in
school thereby limiting their exposure of spelling forms to simpler and frequently
occurring structures. For example, by grade 4, most children are exposed to the morpho-
phonemic variations of the suffix “-s” as reflected in the real words “knives, peaches,
prays, cries”. Children from a disadvantaged environment may not necessarily generalize
the suffix “-s” structure due to insufficient exposure and practice. The socio¬
economically advantaged children might have greater exposure to similar structures in
extra-curricular activities, hence more opportunities to draw analogies between familiar
and novel lexical items.
The ESRT consists of 35 items, divided into 10 PA-Only items, 12 Ortho-Only
items and 13 PA + Ortho items. Since letter-sound associations represent the basics of
spelling and phonological awareness, ten items were considered sufficient to test the
selected concepts with an increasing level of difficulty. For example, the simplest item
targeted the short vowel in a closed syllable, while the most difficult item targeted
the digraph . A greater number of items targeted orthographic rule knowledge
because it represents a more complex concept in English spelling and is mastered over a
longer period of time. Finally, 13 items targeted the combined PA + Ortho spelling
pattern in order to represent the typical structure of commonly used words in the English
language. Furthermore, this spelling pattern provided an opportunity to test at which
developmental stage, or grade level, a child is simultaneously able to recruit information
from both the phonological and the orthographic processors.
The 35 test items on the ESRT were selected to sample a broad range of early
spelling patterns that an English writer must master. Analysis of performance on the
three spelling patterns across grades 2, 3, 4 and 5 shows the presence or absence of fine

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increments in spelling development. One possible explanation for the absence of
significant difference in performance between grades 2 and 3 on the one hand, and grades
4 and 5 on the other hand could be related to the lack of test items that target very fine
changes in knowledge.
In a post-hoc procedure, the ESRT was administered to a few clients in grades 2
through 5 who recently received a diagnosis of developmental dyslexia at the University
of Florida Speech and Hearing Clinic. Comparison of spelling performance on the ESRT
with standard scores on the WRAT-3 indicated very similar results, thus implying that the
ESRT has some concurrent validity. For example, a second grade child with
developmental dyslexia obtained a standard score of 83 on the spelling subtest of the
WRAT-3 (14th percentile). On the ESRT, this same child obtained a standard score of 80
(9th percentile). In another instance, a fifth grade child with developmental dyslexia
obtained a standard score of 89 on the WRAT-3 (22nd percentile) and a standard score of
84 on the ESRT (13th percentile).
This degree of correspondence between scores on the WRAT-3 and the ESRT in the
above described few subjects is noteworthy because the two tests tap into different levels
of the process of spelling. The WRAT-3 is a dictation task. It involves auditory
processing of an orally presented word, formulation of the perceived sounds with
conventional letter sequences, retention of sound sequences in memory, and motoric
writing of the analyzed word. The ESRT is a spelling recognition task. It requires that a
child process an orally presented signal, retain it in memory while decoding a set of
similar sounding words, compare the target word with the options and select the form that
is closest to the target word. Another difference between the two tests rests on the nature
of target words. The WRAT-3 consists of real words organized into level of difficulty by

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frequency of occurrence in the language. On the other hand, the ESRT consists of legal
nonwords that target specific spelling patterns. Finally, the design of the ESRT is based
on completion of all target items whereas the WRAT-3 has basal and ceiling rules.
Since the ESRT targets neither higher level orthographic rules nor unpredictable
endings such as “-tion/ sion”, older students might perform well on the spelling
recognition test but score poorly on the WRAT-3 which requires spelling increasingly
complex real words such as “prejudice, necessity, assiduous”. For example, a college
student obtained a standard score of 79 on the WRAT-3 but an approximate standard
score of 118 on the ESRT using the 5th grade norms. This student had mastered basic
letter-sound correspondences and orthographic rules such as the doubling of a consonant
when adding a suffix or the context-governed forms of the suffix “-s” and “-ed”.
Flowever, this student could not segment and encode complex multisyllables such as
“museum, physician, appreciation”. This finding shows that the content of the ESRT
needs to be extended to higher level forms in order to be used with a wider age range of
subjects.
Clinical Applications of the ESRT
Although several standardized tests for spelling assessment are commercially
available, these tests do not always meet the requirements for quick yet effective
differential diagnostic measures of spelling difficulties. The ESRT, which was designed
with this purpose in mind, targets three spelling patterns representative of the structure of
English orthography. Furthermore, each of these spelling patterns, PA-Only, Ortho-Only
and PA + Ortho, targets areas found to be at the core of spelling disabilities (Bruck, 1993;
Bruck and Treiman, 1990; Carlisle, 1989; Stuart and Masterson, 1992). The PA-Only
spelling pattern tests phonological awareness at the level of the sound and the ability to

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associate a sound with the conventional letter or letter sequence. The Ortho-Only spelling
pattern tests knowledge of morpho-phonemic rules. The combined spelling pattern, PA +
Ortho, tests the integration of sound segmentation abilities with knowledge of
orthographic rules. Nonsense words were selected to eliminate the effect of print
exposure and enhance a child’s ability to draw analogies from learned spelling forms.
Furthermore, a spelling recognition task, in contrast to a spelling writing task, was
selected to ensure consistency of responses (i.e., circle one answer only), to limit the
number of possible responses (i.e., four choices were provided and the three foils
represented a target error) and to enable the test to be given in a short amount of time
(between 15 to 25 minutes) to a large group of children for screening purposes.
The ESRT has the possibility to support differential analysis of children’s strengths
and weaknesses in the areas of phonemic processing and morpho-phonemic rule
knowledge. The scoring system yields an individual standard score for the PA-Only
items, the Ortho-Only items and the PA + Ortho items. Performance on each of these
three spelling patterns can help determine whether spelling problems arise from a core
deficit in phonemic awareness, orthographic rules, morpho-phonemic variations or a
combination of all three factors.
In addition to determining performance on the three spelling patterns relative to the
mean performance of a grade, individual performance can be qualitatively analyzed. A
profile of the most frequent phonemic and orthographic errors can be graphed and
compared with the percentage of occurrence of those errors in the normative sample.
This qualitative assessment should enable the clinician to determine a child’s specific
areas of strengths and weaknesses in spelling and thus facilitate the development of
intervention goals.

Strengths and Limitations
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Strengths
The ESRT was designed as a preliminary spelling assessment tool for children in
primary school grades. Research unequivocally stresses the importance of phonological
awareness and orthographic rule knowledge for successful spelling acquisition (Brack,
1993; Brack and Waters, 1988; Brack and Treiman, 1990; Carlisle, 1987; Moats, 1995;
Stuart and Masterson, 1992). No known standardized or informal measure of spelling
assessment incorporates these two core elements of English spelling in a simple and
clearly delineated fashion. The ESRT encompasses these two important aspects of
spelling in the form of two distinct spelling patterns, the PA-Only spelling pattern which
targets items requiring phonemic awareness and letter-sound associations and the Ortho-
Only pattern which targets morpho-phonemic rules of spelling. A third pattern, the PA +
Ortho spelling pattern, was included to assess the integration of both letter-sound
associations and orthographic rale knowledge within the same word. Although these
items are presented randomly on the test form, the identification and scoring of these
patterns is unambiguous. Furthermore, standard scores and percentiles have been
computed for each spelling pattern to facilitate interpretation of performance across
grades.
The choice of an objective format (one correct answer and three foils) greatly
reduces the problems of assigning an error to a category. Unlike the difficulties faced in
scoring an informal test like Henderson’s Qualitative Inventory of Word Knowledge
(1990), each test item on the ESRT is represented by four choices. The three foils range
from a wide variation to a fine distinction in spelling form.

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Another strength of the ESRT is in its use of nonsense words instead of real words.
Recognition of the spelling form of real words is strongly dependent on linguistic
maturity, cognitive development and extent of exposure to print. Nonsense words reduce
the degree of bias in assessment and the same forms can be administered to subjects of
different age levels. Nonsense words serve as good structures for assessing competence
in phonological awareness and orthographic rule knowledge because they tap into an
individual’s ability to make inferences about spelling patterns by drawing analogies with
real words of similar structures.
Finally, the ESRT is quick and easy to administer. It can be given to a group of
children in under 25 minutes and to a single child in under 15 minutes. Taking the ESRT
essentially requires listening to the test item, silently reading the choices and circling the
correct form. The majority of the children who were tested on the ESRT appeared to
enjoy the task and approached the multiple-choice format as a non-threatening word
game. Many children found the choice of nonsense words interesting enough to
volunteer possible meanings, for example one child commented that, “feaches were a
kind of fruit, more juicy and sour than peaches”.
Limitations
A limitation in the design of the ESRT is the nature of the standardization sample.
The sample consisted entirely of children from a few schools in Gainesville, Florida.
Furthermore, only children with a signed informed parental consent were included in the
study. No background information, such as academic achievement in reading and
spelling, attentional or behavioral factors and developmental /family history, was
collected and taken into consideration prior to data analysis.

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In this study, developmental spelling patterns were examined by grade level rather
than chronological age intervals. It is very likely that analysis of spelling performance
relative to 6-month age intervals will yield insight into finer developmental changes.
Directions for Further Research
This study represents an initial attempt at examining early developmental spelling
patterns in a systematic fashion. For this purpose, the ESRT was designed and
performance findings were standardized using a regional sample of participants. The
final objective of this study is to facilitate the diagnosis of spelling abilities in young
children and implement effective intervention goals. As a means to this end, the spelling
patterns of those children who performed at least one standard deviation below the mean
performance for their grade on the ESRT will be examined and compared to the
performance of those children who performed within 1 SD of the mean score. Individual
error analysis on the three spelling patterns, PA-Only, Ortho-Only and PA + Ortho,
should shed light on different profiles of spelling disability. These profiles can be used to
conduct longitudinal studies of spelling disability and treatment efficacy. Studies of this
nature could trace improvement, or lack of improvement, across the domains of
phonemic awareness, letter-sound associations and orthographic rule knowledge in
children who do not receive intervention and in children whose intervention goals are
drawn from the assessment findings of the ESRT.
A future research goal is modification of the ESRT procedure in two ways. First,
the standardization sample needs to be expanded to include wider geographic areas in the
country. Subject inclusion criteria should take into account socio-economic status,
ethnicity, English as mother tongue and primary method of reading/ spelling instruction
in school. This standardization process will include first graders, thus extending the use

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of the ESRT to all elementary school grades. Additionally, the standardization process
should be conducted to reflect scores by chronological age intervals of six months. In
other words, individual spelling performance should be compared to the average
performance for the appropriate age interval, for example, the six-month interval between
6 years 6 months and 6 years 11 months, instead of average grade performance.
The second modification planned for the ESRT includes the design of an
intermediate spelling recognition test that targets more advanced orthographic concepts
such as the encoding of unstressed syllables in multisyllabic words and the selection of
conventional forms for unpredictable affixes such as “-tion /-sion”. A test of this nature
would enable the identification of weak areas in older compensated readers and spellers.
Summary and Conclusions
English spelling is undoubtedly a complex process that requires the skillful
integration of several linguistic components with rule-governed letter-to-sound
associations and conventionally acceptable orthographic sequences. The complexity of
the spelling process is reflected aptly in the developmental spelling errors made by young
spellers. The complexity of English spelling is highlighted further in the context of the
difficulties that students with developmental dyslexia encounter during the learning
process.
The purpose of this study was to provide a framework for developmental spelling
patterns across four years of elementary school education. Children’s spelling
recognition abilities were assessed with three spelling patterns, the PA-Only pattern, the
Ortho-Only pattern and the PA + Ortho pattern. Clear-cut developmental patterns were
noted between grades; similarly, patterns of knowledge integration were noted within
grades. The results were standardized on a regional sample of children in grades 2

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through 5 and proposed as an effective measure of spelling abilities in elementary school
children.
Research is slowly uncovering the mysteries underlying the process of mastering the
English spelling system and has emphasized the role of phonemic awareness (Treiman,
1997) and orthographic rule knowledge (Bruck, 1993; Siegel, Share and Geva, 1995) in
the acquisition of spelling. This study has offered some insight into the mechanisms used
by young spellers as they experiment with encoding words into print. Hopefully these
data will be used to help ensure early identification of spelling disabilities and effective
remediation guidelines.

APPENDIX A
PARENTAL INFORMED CONSENT FORM AND GROUP CHILD ASSENT FORM
October 12, 1998
Dear Parent (s):
I am a doctoral student in Speech-Language Pathology in the Department of
Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Florida. As part of a
research project that I am doing under the supervision of my chairperson, Dr. Linda J.
Lombardino, I would like to test the spelling proficiency of children attending grades 2
through 5 in the Alachua County School system. To initiate this study, the researchers
request your permission to administer a 30-minute spelling word list during a class
period.
The spelling test will include a 35-word list presented in a multiple-choice format. The
test items will consist of legal nonwords that conform to pronunciation rules in the
English language (e.g.,flime). Children from all four grades will be administered the
same list of words.
A 10-minute practice session will precede the actual test. Two trial items will be on the
first page of the child’s test form. 1 will instruct the class using a transparency that
presents the two trial items. 1 will read each of the two trial items aloud one time, point
to the four possible spelling choices on the transparency, then circle the correct form.
While instructions will be given to the class as a whole, children who have difficulty
following these instructions will be given individual attention.
An entire class will be tested as a group during a school period that is convenient for your
child and the classroom teacher. The actual testing will take one 30-minute session
inside your child’s classroom. A friendly and informal atmosphere will be created and
your child will not be placed under any kind of testing pressure. If your child does not
have informed parental consent, or does not wish to participate in the test although you
gave him/her your permission, he/she will be seated aside and assigned an activity of
his/her choice under the supervision of the classroom teacher or aide.
Your child’s participation in this study is purely voluntary. Furthermore, if you send us a
signed informed consent form, you can still withdraw your permission at a later date. In
this case, if your child has taken the test, results will be destroyed and not included in the
study. There will be no compensation given for your child’s participation in this study.
No risks of any kind are anticipated. Your child’s participation or non-participation in
this study will not affect his/her grade in any class. Findings of the study are expected to
132

133
help towards early identification of children at risk for spelling problems. In consultation
with specialists, classroom teachers may improve spelling achievement levels by
incorporating concepts of particular difficulty into the curriculum.
We will use a code in place of your child’s name to protect his/her privacy. Test results
will remain confidential to the extent provided by law. They will be transferred onto a
floppy disk and kept in a locked file cabinet drawer along with other research data in my
supervisor, Dr. Linda J. Lombardino’s office. Actual test forms will be placed in separate
folders, labeled by project title and safe guarded in a similar fashion to the test results
data. Upon completion of the study, descriptive statistics on the general performance of
each grade will be sent to school principals. If you check the box below, a brief report
will also be sent to you. If you have any further questions or concerns regarding either
this study or your child’s spelling skills, please feel free to contact Dr. Linda Lombardino
or myself at the UF Speech and Hearing Clinic at (352) 392-2041 between 9:00 a.m. and
4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or at my home after 8:00 p.m. at (352) 846-5183. For
questions or concerns regarding your child’s rights as a participant in this study, please
contact the UFIRB (University of Florida Institutional Review Board) at (352) 392-0433
on weekdays during office hours between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
If you agree to allow your child to participate in this project, please read the statement on
the bottom of this page and tear it off at the broken line. Sign your name on the “parent
signature” line and send it back with your child to his/her teacher. A copy of the Group
Child Assent form is attached. If your child participates in this study, we will read this
statement to him/her prior to the test administration. Please inform your child that a
researcher from the University of Florida will be coming to his/her school to work with
him/her during one class period and that it is alright for him/her to talk and work with the
researcher. Thank you for your assistance.
Sincerely yours,
Sarah T. Ahmed, M.A. Linda J. Lombardino, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Graduate Student Professor
I have read, and I understand the procedure described above. I agree to allow my child,
(child’s name) , to participate in the “Developmental Spelling
Study”. I have received a copy of the description.
SIGNATURES:
Parent/ Guardian Date 2nd Parent/ Guardian (optional) Date
Please put a check on the line provided if you wish us to send a summary of your
child’s performance on our spelling measure.

134
Before beginning the spelling test, the following statement will be read to the children
who have returned informed parental consent:
“Your parents have given me permission to let you participate in a spelling activity. All
of you who wish to play this game, please raise your hand. Those of you who do not
wish to participate, please come up to me so that I can seat you in a separate section of
the classroom where you can quietly do an activity of your choice. Those of you who
raised your hands, I will hand each one of you a sheet of paper on which you will write
your name. I will then explain to you how we will play this game.”

APPENDIX B
EARLY SPELLING RECOGNITION TEST
EXAMINER’S FORM
Reading Instructions: “I am going to read a word, or a short phrase twice. Please listen
carefully to what I say, then look at the words on your paper and circle the one you heard
me say aloud. Let us practice two words: 'vam — vamlook at line a on your paper; it
reads: ‘vem vim vam vum you should circle the third word. Now listen carefully
to the second example: 'flime — flime look at line b on your paper; it reads: ‘ flime
flim flam flem'; you should circle the first word. Are you ready to begin?’
1.
warn
/wsm/
wem
warn
worn
wim
2.
ling
/lir\/
lin
lig
leng
ling
3.
neff
Intfl
neff
nef
niff
naff
4.
chint
/tjlnt/
cint
shint
chit
chint
5.
yuntrude
/jAntru:d/
yontrude
yuntrude
yentrude
yuntrud
6.
zuleps
/zu:leps/
zoleps
zuleps
zulep
zuuleps
7.
bimolt
^aImolt/
bimolt
bemolt
bimot
bimol
8.
snate
/snelt/
nate
snat
snete
snate
9.
bolene
/boli:n/
bo lane
bolene
bolone
bolen
10.
glouch
/glautf/
gloach
gluich
gleach
glouch
135

136
11.
prath
prat
/prasG/
prad
prath
praf
12.
plurish
purish
/pl3flJ7
plurich
plurish
plurig
13.
swother
swother
/swothy/
sother
swoder
soather
14.
zatch
zach
/zaef/
zash
zah
zatch
15.
quinch
quinch
/kwln^/
qinch
quintch
quinsh
16.
scrain
srain
/skreln/
crain
scrain
scrayn
17.
rudge
ruge
/rAC^/
rud
rudge
ruje
18.
garlank
gar lank
/gdrlsqk/
jarlank
garlan
garlak
19.
pindle
pindel
/plndsl/
pindle
pindol
pindul
20.
toof
toof
/tuff
tof
toaf
tief
21. many hods /hodz/
many hads many hodz many hods many huds
22.
they moaded /moidld/
They mooded
They moadid
as in today they moad, but yesterday they moaded.
They meeded
They moaded
23.
two feaches
Two foches
Two feachiz
/fktfez/ as in I have one feach, s/he has two feaches.
Two feaches
Two feachez
24. two tives /talvz/ as in I have one tife, s/he has two tives.
One tife - two tives One tife - two tifes
One tife - two fifs One tife - two tivz

137
25.
two lastries /leistrkz/
One lastry - two lastrys
One lastry - two lastries
as in I have one lastry, s/he has two lastries.
One lastry - two lastryz
One lastry - two lastris
26.
s/he ways /vreiz/
We way - s/he ways
We way - s/he wais
We way -
27.s/he snies /snalz/
We sny - s/he snies
We sny - s/he snis
we sny -
We sny - s/he sniz
28. they ploiked /plolkt/ as in today we ploik, but yesterday they ploiked.
They ploikt They ploiked
They plaiked They plooked
29. they glayed /gleid/ as in today we glay, but yesterday they glayed.
They glayd They glayed
They gleed They glood
30. they zocked /zDkt/ as in today we zock, but yesterday they zocked.
They zoked They zockt
They zocked They zokt
31.she is frazing /frelzir\/ as in we fraze, but she is frazing now.
We fraze - she is frazeing We fraze - she is frazeng
We fraze - she is frazieng We fraze - she is frazing
32. he is vapping /vaepirj/ as in they vap, but he is vapping now.
They vap - he is vapping They vap - he is vaping
They vap - he is vapeing They vap - he is vapeng
33. he is gomping /gDmpir\/ as in they gomp, but he is gomping now.
He is gompping He is goming
He is gomping He is gopping
34. two nashes /naejez/ as in I have one nash, but s/he has two nashes.
Two nashes two nashez two nashiz two nashos
35.franceive /fraenskv/
fanceive francieve franceive francave

APPENDIX C
EARLY SPELLING RECOGNITION TEST
ANSWER FORM
Please circle the word that is closest to the one you hear.
a.
Vem
Vim
Vam
Vum
b.
Flime
Flim
Flam
Flem
1.
Wem
Warn
Worn
Wim
2.
Lin
Lig
Leng
Ling
3.
Neff
Nef
Niff
Naff
4.
Cint
Shint
Chit
Chint
5.
Yontrude
Yuntrude
Yentrude
Yuntrud
6.
Zoleps
Zuleps
Zulep
Zuuleps
7.
Bimolt
Bemolt
Bimot
Bimol
8.
Nate
Snat
Snete
Snate
9.
Bolane
Bolene
Bolone
Bolen
10.
Gloach
Gluich
Gleach
Glouch
11.
Prat
Prad
Prath
Praf
12.
Purish
Plurich
Plurish
Plurig
13.
Swother
Sother
Swoder
Soather
14.
Zach
Zash
Zah
Zatch
15.
Quinch
Qinch
Quintch
Quinsh
16.
Srain
Crain
Scrain
Scrayn
138

139
17.
Ruge Rud
Rudge
Ruje
18.
Garlank Jarlank
Garlan
Garlak
19.
Pindel Pindle
Pindol
Pindul
20.
Toof Tof
Toaf
Tief
21.
Many hads
Many hodz
Many hods
Many huds
22.
They mooded
They meeded
They moadid
They moaded
23.
Two foches
Two feaches
Two feachiz
Two feachez
24.
One tife — two tives
One tife — two tifes
One tife — two tiffs
One tife — two tivz
25.
One lastry — two lastrys
One lastry —
two lastryz
One lastry — two lastries
One lastry —
two lastris
26.
We vray — s/he vrays
We vray — s/he vrayz
We vray — s/he vrais
We vray — s/he vraiz
27.
We sny — s/he snies
We sny — s/he snys
We sny — s/he snis
We sny — s/he sniz
28.
They ploikt
They ploiked
They plaiked
They plooked
29.
They glayd
They glayed
They gleed
They glood
30.
They zoked
They zockt
They zocked
They zokt
31.
We fraze — she is ffazeing
We fraze —:
she is frazeng
We fraze — she is frazieng
We fraze — :
she is If azing
32.
They vap — he is vapping
They vap —
he is vaping
They vap — he is vapeing
They vap —
he is vapeng
33.
He is gompping
He is goming
He is gomping
He is gopping

140
34.
Two nashes
Two nashiz
Two nashez
Two nashos
35.
Fanceive
Franceive
Francieve
Francave

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Sarah Tahira Ahmed was bom on November 22, 1963, in Baghdad, Iraq, where she
lived with her family until she graduated from high school in 1982. Her family moved to
Jordan where, in 1986, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature
from Yarmouk University. She joined the graduate program at the University of Jordan
in 1987 and earned a Master of Arts degree in Linguistics in 1990. After graduation, she
worked as a Teaching/ Research Assistant at the Center for Phonetics Research, in
Jordan. While preparing class notes and talks on normal child language acquisition, she
became increasingly interested in the nature and development of disordered language in
children. In 1996, she enrolled in the graduate program at the University of Florida,
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and will be awarded the doctoral
degree in May 2000. She hopes to pursue her interest in language-based disorders, such
as reading and spelling disabilities, through research and clinical work.
155

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable
standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate ip scope and quit
dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy^
•1. J/jLM.
Linda J. Lpmbardino, Chair
Professor of Communication Sciences and
Disorders
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable
standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a
dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Patricia A. Kricos
Professor of Communication Sciences and
Disorders
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable
standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a
dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
éralyn,M. Schulz
Assistant Professor of Coi
Sciences and Disorders
mnittiiication
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable
standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a
dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
aX
William N. Williams
Professor of Communication Sciences and
Disorders
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable
standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a
dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Christiana M. Leonard
Professor of Neuroscience

This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of
Communication Sciences and Disorders in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and
to the Graduate School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
May 2000
Dean, Graduate School

inilliíííiliii
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