CodeBreakers reading and spelling tests are FREE to families and schools to download and use. They will enable you to find the gaps in your child or learner’s knowledge and choose the appropriate set of workbooks and games and much more.
A little about the tests
At CodeBreakers, we have several sets of tests for you to download. Each series has its own set of tests and the findings of the tests will tell you if your learner has gaps in their knowledge at the specific level.
What types of tests are included?
Each set of tests will in Include a spelling, reading and non-word reading test, 3 test in total. Often learners will have strength in reading or spelling. It’s therefore important to administer all 3 tests, to show the gap in knowledge for either reading and spelling. We have included a non-word reading test to establish reading accuracy. Many learners, especially older learners, will have developed whole word recognition, meaning, they know what a word looks like but can’t/don’t decode it. It’s important to know how to decode a word, as when a learner is met with an unfamiliar word, they can transfer their knowledge of sounds from a word they know, to another. For example, a high frequency or social sight word such as ‘rain’, may be recognised instantly. However, does the learner understand that ‘ai’ say /a/ and is able to decode a word, such as ‘sustain’, by breaking the word into its sounds and transferring ‘ai’ into a less familiar word. It is easy to then compare the errors made in a real word reading test to the non word reading test. Each test follows the same sequence of patterns and a direct comparisons can be made. You will see this in the case study below.
Who can use CodeBreakers tests?
All our tests are every simple to administer and come with a simple set of instructions. However, if you wish, you can select our video training here.
CodeBreakers test have been designed to not require training to administer them. Therefore, if you’re a parent at home, TA or teacher in school, you can use the tests. Please note that these test do not provide a standardised score. They do provide precise qualitative information regarding gaps in knowledge related to reading and spelling accuracy, allowing families and schools to target interventions.
What will CodeBreakers test measure?
CodeBreakers tests are unlike other tests available. Many tests will only identify errors at an expected reading or spelling age. This only identifies whole words which a learner cannot spell not the key patterns and sounds. All our tests are mapped directly back to our workbooks, so any errors made, will tell you that a learner does not have knowledge of the specific sound or pattern.
How can the results be used?
Not only will CodeBreakers tests identify the specific patterns and sounds a learner is struggling with, they will also help you to measure progress, if you re-test once you’ve completed the workbooks. Furthermore, if you’re a teacher or TA, you can use the results to populate an individual learning plan, share with other members of staffs, create your own spelling tests which use the tricky words (once you’ve taught the sounds) and use re-test results to demonstrate learning has taken place.
In addition, from the strategies and behaviours observed during testing, you can also identify if an individual has phonological awareness, is working too quickly, they may be guessing, they may have a visual memory, you may identify they don’t hear all sounds in words.
Are CodeBreakers tests timed?
There is an option to time the tests. It can be useful to time tests as this will show and automated response (the first thought) often showing the knowledge that has become engrained. You can also measure progress of the speed of response when re-testing. Furthermore, you might demonstrate that speed has increased, alongside accuracy, as your learner is now taking time to process their reading or spelling response. The results may also identify that accuracy and speed have increased as confidence has grown.
We understand that some learners are made extremely anxious with the concept of being timed. In this scenario, we advise you to make your parental or professional judgement.
What age group are CodeBreakers tests for?
As mentioned earlier, CodeBreakers tests aim to demonstrate gaps in knowledge not a reading or spelling age. It can be quite demoralising, especially for older learners, to find they have a reading or spelling age below their chronological (actual) age. Different tests measure reading ages differently, therefore you can never make direct comparisons of age ability. Therefore as we are only measuring knowledge of sounds and patterns, the tests can be used on any age, primary, secondary, post-16 learner or adults in the workplace.
What can you learn from CodeBreakers tests?
Firstly, I’d like to thank a family who have allowed CodeBreakers to use their recent results from CodeBreakers reading and spelling tests as a case study. The parents administered the tests at home and sent the finding over for me to comment on.
With the parent’s permission we have provided images of the results.
Here are the results of the reading test. You can see that the majority of words are correct. You might be tempted to think the learner has consolidated these patterns and sounds and there is no need for intervention. The errors that have been made are where most of the letters are correct and the learner has added more letters to make a different but real word. This would suggest they are not decoding but identifying words at whole word level and words based on those with in their vocabulary. Such as ‘roman’ became ‘romance’. In a single word reading test, the learner can’t rely on other cues, such as pictures or guessing at a word in the context of a sentence.
There is further evidence to suggest this reading strategy when the learner read the words from the non word test. There are far more errors and again the learner tried to make real words from non words. I didn’t observe the reader but it’s likely they read with whole word recognition and quickly, not really paying attention to decoding/ breaking down words. The learner did however demonstrate some decoding skills, as they accurately read non-words on many occasions. Although, they couldn’t completely apply their knowledge to all non words. This suggest that when met with an unfamiliar word they will struggle to decode them at single word level.
The spelling test also shows that all the sounds and patterns in this series (test 1-2 series) aren’t consolidated when spelling. This can often be a problem where learners use a whole word reading strategy. They tend to spell by remembering what words look like, rather than encoding. Encoding means to sound out and make a written representation for each sound, knowing which pattern to choose for the sound (where multiple patterns are available).
Here you can see words ‘flask’ and ‘snack’ haven’t been spelled with the correct pattern for the /k/ at the end of the word. With direct teaching, through CodeBreakers workbooks, a learner can be shown how to choose ‘c, k or ck’ to make the /k/. There’s a really simple rule! The learner also spelled ‘slipped’ as ‘sliped’, not recognising ‘pp’ is needed. Again, direct teaching is available though CodeBreakers workbooks. The word ‘chase’ is another example where the knowledge of the long vowel /a/ has not been made by the magic ‘e’ (also know as silent e or a split digraph).
Interestingly, the words with errors with these specific patterns were in fact read correctly . This reinforces the need to do all 3 tests to clearly identify the gaps in knowledge.
From the findings I would suggest this individual needs precision teaching, using a systematic synthetic phonics programme. They would need to start at series 2 of CodeBreakers. They key is to develop phonological awareness and this is appropriate at any age. CodeBreakers provides lots of fun ways to do this in the workbooks and online games. Also overlearning and transfer of knowledge to school/class work are key to consolidating learning. When providing intervention, use examples of words the learner does know to show them all the sounds in the words and spelling choices. Then show them how to listen for the sound and transfer this into unfamiliar words. Use wooden letters to build words, moving each letter/s to demonstrate the sounds. The learner clearly has a visual memory, so make good use of that and build strategies in which are visual. Show the learner how to slow down and decode words rather than guessing at words based on initial/final letters. I would also check their reading comprehension skills to ensure they understand the text they re reading, they may be skim reading and glossing over tricky words.
Series 9 coming soon
Learn more about CodeBreakers at home and school here