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Why might DORA spelling scores not reflect classroom spelling test achievement?

I am concerned that some fourth graders are scoring at the 1st grade level in spelling on DORA, while on the other hand they are able to do well on an advanced spelling list in the classroom.  I am not sure how to address this with parents in a conference.  What are some possibilities that could be affecting their spelling scores on DORA?

Spelling is the most challenging sub-test on DORA as the answers are completely student generated as opposed to multiple-choice. If students are performing well on classroom spelling tests, consider the difference in the task. If on Monday they are given a list of 10-25 words (depending on the teacher), they spend the entire week memorizing those words:  writing, re-writing, creating flash cards, drilling themselves, drilling their peers, having sample tests in class and at home over breakfast, etc. The students are given many opportunities to memorize those words and most will do well on the Friday spelling test.  Now they come in to take DORA. They are seeing words that they have not just spent a week practicing and they only get one chance to spell the word right. It is a sample of how the student is spelling, in general, without any practice.  Do you administer a spelling pre-test at the beginning of the week? Do your students get the same score on Monday as they do on Friday? Probably not, but I would look at the Monday score as an indicator of how the child really spells. So, you can tell the parents not to worry; with practice their children are learning to memorize and spell words. If they continue to work hard on the classroom spelling lists, they will improve their diagnostic spelling scores.

Tags: spelling test, spelling achievement, reading spelling, reading achievement, reading assessment

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