Students' ability to spell and use their Priority Words correctly in their everyday writing should be evaluated. Assessment is made by looking at students' writing. About once a week (less often in middle school/junior high English classes), select a piece of writing from each student. Students should not be told how often a sample will be selected or which piece of writing will be reviewed. They simply know that papers are being selected, unannounced, for evaluation of spelling in writing. Bracket a section of the writing to evaluate-perhaps one sentence in grade one, two to three sentences in grades two and three, and a short paragraph in the upper grades. This is the sample from which you make your assessment.
Although evaluating all of every student's writing would be more thorough, it is unnecessary. Spelling evaluation should replicate reading evaluation. Judgments are made on students' reading abilities based on samples of oral reading. Hearing the whole book would be more thorough, but it is unnecessary. Likewise, you can make a sound judgment of students' spelling abilities by evaluating only a section of their writing. Time is limited.
When Priority Words are made a priority, the result is no Priority Word errors, This is as it should be, inasmuch as the Priority Word requirement represents the minimum expectation for spelling in writing. Yet, if a student does not meet this requirement on a writing sample selected for evaluation, then the error should be noted, For example, place a dot in the margin next to the line of writing in which the error appears. The student corrects the error and returns the paper to you. Keep these papers (or a copy) in an assessment file folder for each student. This ongoing data documents each student's ability to meet the Priority Word requirement.
Writing samples do not need to be graded. Students either meet the minimum requirement for spelling in everyday, or they do not. This information should contribute to the total spelling 'evaluation for each student.
Occasionally, you may wish to judge a piece of students' everyday writing without the use of their Spell Check reference. This writing is called a no-reference write. Further, Priority Words are among the bank of words tested in the Cloze Story Word Tests and Sentence Dictation Tests, so routine use of the tests in the program automatically assesses Priority Words without the use of references.
Parents can be allies as you develop proofreading skills. Written assignments from across the curriculum can be graded for the subject in which they were written, then sent home for parent-child proofreading. Mark the paper with a “Proofread with Me” signal that indicates to parents that this was not checked by you for spelling so that they could work with their child toward this end. Instruct parents not to proofread the paper for their child, but to assist them. Suggest that parents place a dot in the margin next to a line that has an error to help their child locate, then fix, the mistake.
INCREASING STUDENT SPELLING ACHIEVEMENT Copyright 2003 Egger Publishing Inc. Reprinted with permission 1-888-937-7355