Weekly Spelling Tests with PLD? What does PLD recommend? A spelling test of Friday? Or not?

Yes, you can still schedule a spelling test on Friday, but as a general rule, this is something at PLD we tend to discourage.

This is due to a range of reasons:


Most importantly, the consequence of devotinging the Friday SSP session to a weekly test, is that you lose a day of 'teaching' to running a weekly test, which most students perform quite well in because the words/concepts are so fresh in their mind from the last 4 days.


Does the testing of the 'words from the week' indicate that long-term learning has occurred? No!

The PLD suggest, if you, your teachers and your parents are very keen on scheduling the weekly test, then:

Option 1: Test last week's words.
Option 2: Present 2 words from the current week, two words from the last fortnight, two words from three weeks ago and two words from a month ago.
Option 3: Student's engage in partner testing, while the other half of the class is involved in the phonic-dictation task, then swap.


Students often write words correctly in spelling tests but struggle when applying their new knowledge to written work. As a general rule, when transferring spelling into writing, students require the activation of many more skills. Single word spelling is quite a simple cognitive task in comparison to extended writing tasks.

Dictation tasks encourage the development of strong listening and auditory memory skills which are important for learning and literacy. As part of a Structured Synthetic Phonics (SSP) program, phonic dictation has the potential to provide students with repeated practice with this more challenging task. As students complete dictation tasks, they are faced with the challenge of applying their recently acquired spelling concepts to the rewriting of passages.

The cost of the Friday SSP session being taken up with a test, means that the more valuable task of phonic-dictation is often not presented or not presented the number of required times.


PLD recommends doing a placement screen at the end of each term (as outlined in the Screening & Tracking Manual). The data collected in this screen is then transferred to the tracking sheets to create your three instructional groups.

If the termly results for the strong, your 'average' and the 'delayed' groups are showing movement and students are progressing as expected, with the test on Friday (and without the additional phonic-dictation task being presented) then it could be argued that your classrooms and demographics have the right mix of teaching and learning.

Updated on: 01/09/2022

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