Ditch the Spelling Test!


By Robyn Kendrick and Kyla Cook


When our 2nd graders take their weekly spelling test, are they succeeding by mastering letter groups and sounds, or just by memorizing until the test is over? The endless cycle of handing out a list of words to our students on Monday, having them memorize the spelling by Friday to ace the test, and finding they’ve forgotten the spelling by the time the weekend is over, isn’t a successful way of learning to spell.

Research by the National Reading Panel shows that a solid foundation in phonemic awareness and phonics instruction is critical to success in reading and spelling. Just teaching phonics is not enough; you have to teach it explicitly, systematically, and sequentially. We’ve seen students struggle with spelling and reading if they don’t have a solid foundation in phonemic awareness and phonics. Since we’ve switched our focus to teaching our students skills, not memorization, the results have been nothing short of thrilling.

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