Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What Curriculum Developers Don't Want You to Know About Spelling

The area of spelling is perhaps the least understood by publishers and curriculum developers.  Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that the last real study of spelling was conducted in 1953 by Harry Greene’s Project Spelling at The University of Iowa. It’s name?  The New Iowa Spelling Scale.  Note the word NEW!  However, even though it is over 50 years old it remains the only existing valid measuring instrument for student spelling.  Why?  Because it contains over 5,500 of the most basic words which were given to over 230,000 students.

It still can be used to determine just how effective any spelling program is.  All a school has to do is give a simple 20 word spelling test to its 3rd graders in the fall using 10 words that were studied in spelling in the first and second grades and 10 words of equivalent difficulty that they haven’t had the opportunity to study.  If the school’s spelling program is effective, there will be a statistically significant difference between the scores on the two sets of words.

The AVKO Educational Research Foundation is looking for schools who would like to be part of a study the relative effectivness of various spelling programs.  Please contact us if you are a part of or know of a school who would be interested in a pilot study.

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