Logic of English does not generally promote spelling tests. We do not include them in Foundations except for short, casual spelling checks in the Foundations D Assessments, and full mastery of the words in the D assessments is not required before moving on. The lists in each lesson in Foundations are for spelling analysis, a learning activity, and not for spelling tests. Learn more about the purpose of Foundations Spelling Lists here.
However, we know some Foundations teachers wish to or are required to give spelling tests. (Learn about spelling tests in Essentials here).
If you really want to give a weekly spelling test each week, it is fine to do so. It’s not a very helpful assessment of actual spelling ability or an effective way to build students’ long-term mastery, but it’s not going to hurt them as long as you do the following:
- Give spelling tests only to students who are making strong progress in mastering the phonograms and using them successfully for reading, and make them a lower priority than other areas of mastery in Foundations.
- Only include words you have taught through spelling analysis and practiced in class activities. If you have certain additional words you want to include that aren’t in Foundations, that’s doable. Teach any additional phonograms/rules used in the word that they haven’t learned already, teach the word through spelling analysis, and make sure to include it in spelling games and dictation activities throughout the week.
- If possible, always make your quiz a group of dictation phrases, rather than individual words, and continue to reuse words from past lessons. It will be a better assessment of students’ actual ability, and have a greater impact on students’ long-term mastery of words they are learning.
- Make sure the spelling test is a small factor in students’ spelling grade for your class, since it’s a much worse indicator of their ability than whether they are mastering the phonograms, understanding the rules, and successfully learning to apply them in words. So, for example, phonogram drills, dictation sentences, and in-class spelling activities in the Foundations lessons should be significant factors in your spelling grade (if you give one).
- If you need to grade the quizzes, give partial credit for words that are misspelled in a way that correctly applies all phonograms and rules. Make sure that your measure of success rewards the progress they have made and reflects understanding they have gained, rather than giving zero credit for a word that reflects a lot of understanding and does many things right. For example, if a student spells the word "cat" with a K instead of a C, we would say to correct the child by praising her for making a phonically accurate guess but then asking her if she can think of another phonogram that says /k/. When the student writes C, praise her and simply let her know that in the word "cat" we use the phonogram /k-s/ (the letter C) to spell the /k/ sound.
This matters because if you wanted students to only memorize strings of letters for one week rather than focusing on actually learning to spell, understanding why, and mastering concepts that will help with other spelling words, a great way to ensure that happens would be to grade your class so that what matters most is memorized strings of letters. Students care a lot about grades and will feel a lot of pressure to focus on what you are grading them on. Research suggests that traditional spelling tests do not help most students retain the spelling of these words or help them implement them in their independent writing.
Learn more about Spelling Analysis.