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Katherine Dove
READ 366

Literacy Assessment

Brief Background
Jessica Martinez (pseudonym) is a female 1st grade student at W. H. Keister Elementary
in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She is an ELL enrolled in the dual-immersion program, wherein she
spends half of her school day in a Spanish-speaking classroom and the other half in an English-
speaking classroom. Both of her teachers speak Spanish and English, although they mostly
adhere to these language blocks. Spanish is sometimes utilized in the English portion of the day
to help scaffold Spanish-speaking students. Jessica is often quiet during class, hesitant to shout
out an answer like some of her peers, and her English is stronger than one might think. She
spends a lot of time chatting with her friends, mostly in Spanish with other native Spanish-
speakers. When Jessica is uncomfortable, or perhaps when she is unsure of how to translate her
thoughts into English, she can be a little quiet. However, Jessica is very bright, energetic, and
excited to share when she feels comfortable. She has a lot of intrinsic motivation, and she
enjoyed the variety of literacy assessments that she participated in.
The literacy assessment for this student consisted of 3 sections: a phonological awareness
assessment, a retelling assessment, and a writing sample. Additionally, her mid-year PALS
scores will be incorporated into this portfolio. By combining the information gathered in these
assessments, some suggestions for teaching can be made to enhance this students literacy

Phonological Awareness Assessment

The phonological awareness assessment was administered to fully understand the
students literacy strengths and weaknesses. By understanding what aspects of literacy the
student has already grasped, instruction can focus on areas where they still need support. This
streamlines the literacy process for this student, leading to a more thorough and efficient literacy
education. The tasks the student completed were: blending phonemes, segmenting words,
reading words with long vowel sounds with silent e, reading words with long vowel sounds
with vowel teams (ai, ay, oa, etc.), and reading words with short and long vowel sounds in words
(mixed). These tasks are appropriate for a first grader midway through the school year, which is
approximately when Jessica completed this assessment.

Blending Phonemes
The task required Jessica to listen to individual phonemes being spoken. The student
then would blend the phonemes (sounds) into the whole word. Jessica was given multiple
examples for this exercise, both before and during the task. She practiced by blending t-r-
(tree) with assistance from the examiner. With plenty of support and scaffolding, she could blend
the example words. However, she received 0/10 correct on this task. This means the student is
unable to blend phonemes together to create words independently, even with multiple repetitions
of each word.
Jessica has likely not had experience with blending phonemes prior to this assessment.
For some of the words, she came close to the correct answer (s-p-or-t being blended as sort),
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while others were not close (t-r-a-c-k being blended as apple.) Another possibility is that she
has only received phonemic awareness practice in the Spanish half of her school day. However,
her skills in blending would likely transfer to English (to an extent), yet she was unable to blend
any of the words successfully.

Segmenting Words
For this task, the student was asked to break a given word down into its individual
phonemes (sounds) verbally. Jessica was given an example word to segment (cat becoming
c-a-t) and she was successful. However, her final score on this task was 3/10. The words she
got correct were free, snack, and gasp. Her other answers had a variety of mistakes,
ranging from incorrect vowels (short a instead of long a in play) to leaving out vowels entirely
(b-l-s for blush). There seemed to be an equal number of issues with insertion/exclusion of
vowels and consonants.
Again, considering there was a huge range of mistakes, this student has likely not had
experience segmenting words into phonemes. If she had simply inserted extra vowels into each
word, then it would be clear where her trouble with phonemes lies. Instead, Jessica exhibited
many different types of errors, and she likely just needs more experience with segmenting.

Reading words with Long Vowel Sounds with Silent e

During this task, the student was asked to read a series of words aloud. The words all
included long vowels with a silent e (i.e., tape, cone, etc.). Jessica received a 2/10 on this task.
However, again, her results were not consistent. For some words, she simply read it with a short
vowel (tap instead of tape), while others exhibited a lack of understanding of letter sounds
(fan instead of flake). Her strength is reading the first letter in each word, which she
consistently got correct. After that, however, she struggled to sound out the remainder of the

Reading words with Long Vowel Sounds with Vowel Teams (ai, ay, oa, ee, ea, ie, ue)
This task was administered to assess the students ability to read words with long vowel
sounds (feet) and vowel teams (mail). Jessica received a 2/10 on this section. Just as in the last
section, she consistently read the first letter in each word correctly. After that, she seemed to
guess at the remainder of the sounds in the word (fine instead of feet.)

Reading words with Short and Long Vowel Sounds in Words (mixed)
This task was for the student to read words with short and long vowel sounds. Jessica
received a 1/10 on this assessment. The words she got correct was five, which may be a sight
word for Jessica. The results were consistent with the previous reading assessments, in that she
almost always begins words correctly, but is unsure of the remainder of the word. She also
expressed an understanding of the digraph sh when she responded shane for the word shed.
However, this did not extend to other digraphs, like when she answered she for the word

Jessica did not participate in a spelling assessment for this portfolio, although her mid-
year PALS score places her at an LN spelling level. She understands that there is a connection
between letters and certain sounds, but may not know every letter sound just yet. Her PALS
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score for letter sounds was 20/26, showing that she still needs some practice in this area.
Additionally, her blending score reflected the results of this assessment, scoring her at 4/20. For
spelling features, PALS finds that beginning sounds are the strongest (3/4 correct) while she will
need more practice with ending sounds, digraphs, and blends. Additionally, the PALS
assessment determined that her concept of word (COW) was developing but not quite complete
(the scores were 9/10 for COW Word ID and 6/10 for COW Word List).


For the writing assessment, Jessica sat in the hallway and was asked about her favorite
activities. She was very hesitant to speak, seemingly unsure of how to answer. When told she
would get to draw a picture of her favorite things, she got more excited. She started explaining
that she would be visiting her grandparents for the first time during the upcoming summer break.
She was told she could draw about her upcoming trip if she wanted, and she immediately started
drawing, talking the entire time.
Jessica discussed how she kept in touch with her extended family on the phone, one set of
grandparents living in Honduras with the other living in Mexico. She said this was the first time
she would ever meet her extended family in person, and that she would be traveling with her
older cousin. She seemed a little bit scared of the trip, but mostly very excited. While drawing
the two houses (both of her grandparents houses in Honduras and Mexico), she described the
itinerary and how she would first go to Honduras, and then to Mexico, via plane.
When she was satisfied with her drawings, she was asked to write a sentence or two
describing what she drew. She wrote: I am go to Mexico for 2 Day and I am go to Hondors for
2 Day. She utilized mostly sight words to complete this task, which she likely did on purpose.
Her oral explanation was much more vivid and descriptive than her written one. She does have a
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good concept of capitalization, remembering to capitalize I and the country names, but also
capitalizing the d in day.

The task for the student was to listen to The Three Billy Goats Gruff being read aloud,
then to retell the story using cutouts of the characters. The retelling was modeled for the student
so she would know what was expected before she had her turn.
The student received 3s (the highest possible score) in the categories sequence of major
events, resolution, and reaction of characters or ending. In these sections, the student
provided a complete retelling of what happened in the story. She remembered to include each of
the goats attempting to cross the bridge and being stopped by the troll. She also remembered to
include the reason the troll let the goats gobecause they said their older brothers were tastier
and bigger than they were! In the end, she concluded the story by explaining: The biggest
[goat] passed and they can eat grass anytime by crossing thebridge!
For the categories setting and characters and story problem, however, Jessica
received 0s. This means that the relevant information was left out, or at least not provided in the
appropriate order. The story problem, for example, was that the goats wanted to eat the grass on
the other side of the bridge, but the troll wouldnt let them cross. While Jessica mentioned eating
grass at the end of her retelling, she had not mentioned it prior to that. If she had explained this
story to someone who had never heard it, they wouldnt have understood why the goats wanted
to cross the bridge in the first place. Additionally, she referred to the goats as the little goat,
the middle goat, and the big goat, instead of Little Billy, etc. She didnt introduce the
characters at the beginning, instead jumping right into the main plot.
Jessicas overall score was a 9 out of 15 , which is representative of a student whose
retelling skills are developing. A student with this score may need more scaffolding and practice
before they can perform a detailed retelling on their own. However, it is possible that Jessicas
score is not accurate for her true abilities.
Jessica performed this task with enthusiasm and confidence; in fact, her excitement may
have gotten the better of her. She jumped right in, but forgot to include the beginning of the
story. Some of the elements (characters and story problem) were not initially introduced.
However, she did later reference all of the characters throughout her retelling. Additionally, she
did know that the goats wanted to eat the grass on the other side of the bridge (the story
problem), but did not mention this fact until the end of her retelling. She spoke very quickly and
only paused to think when she was trying to remember a word. There was one point where
Jessica could not remember the next part of the story, but after 10-20 seconds of wait time and
encouragement, she could continue. Otherwise, she raced through her retelling; its highly likely
that while she was capable of including all relevant information in the retelling, she simply got
too energetic and forgot to include some parts. If she had been reminded to start at the
beginning, that may have helped her remember vital elements from the story.
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Recommendations for Teaching

Based on the assessments completed with Jessica as well as all the data collected, the
student appears to be a late emergent reader. In fact, Jessica may be a transitional reader, soon to
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make the jump to becoming a beginning reader. Late emergent readers know some letters and
some sounds, but typically can only identify a words initial sound. Jessica knows all of her
lowercase letters, but only 20/26 letter sounds. This was also displayed in her phonetic
awareness assessment, wherein she could consistently determine the first letter in a word but
struggled with the remainder. Her concept of word is strong but not complete, as is shown in her
PALS score. Finally, she is able to recognize and write some sight words, but not as many as a
beginning reader.
Overall, her scores point to her being well above an early emergent reader, but not quite
reaching the beginner level (due to lack of concept of word and phonological awareness skills).
Due to her being somewhere in the middle, she should not follow a strict emergent reader diet.
Instead, she should follow an emergent diet with emphasis placed on transitioning to a beginner
The emergent or prereader diet consists of concept of word (20%), concept of print
(20%), the alphabet (20%), phonological awareness (20%), and writing (20%). Jessica could
benefit from instruction in all of these categories.
The goal of concept of word instruction is matching print and speech. Jessica certainly
needs some more experience in this area, as its one of the things holding her back from
becoming a beginning reader. She should be reading little books on her reading level repeatedly
while finger-pointing to help develop her concept of word. Additionally, memorizing songs and
poems alone or with her whole class can help develop concept of word.
Concept of print helps students understand how written language works. Jessica has a
fairly strong concept of print, as she is able to identify the difference between text and pictures in
a story. Additionally, although her retelling score for this assessment determined she was
developing her retelling skills, it is possible that her excitement caused her to leave out critical
story points. Regardless, more practice with retelling would likely benefit Jessica in this area. If
it is determined that her retelling skills are better than anticipated, some of this time could be
better used for phonological awareness.
Studying the alphabet leads to phonemic awareness/phonics skills. Jessica does need
more practice with these topics. According to the PALS assessment, she has not quite mastered
all of her alphabet sounds. Additionally, oral language practice for an ELL is never a bad thing
to include in literacy instruction. However, this is something that Jessica will likely not need as
long to master, due to the fact that she is already recognizing all lowercase letters and the
beginning letter in words.
Language play helps students develop phonological awareness. This is where Jessica will
need the most help and support in order to move up to the level of beginning reader. She
struggles with sounding out words phonetically, leading to poor reading skills. Additionally, she
is unable to blend or separate words phonemically. These are skills that she should have started
developing in kindergarten, but there are a number of reasons this may not have happened.
Regardless, Jessica will need to catch up with her peers to progress with her literacy skills.
Working with rhymes and syllables would be a good place to start, as well as thorough practice
with blending phonemes. She should be working towards being able to sound out words
phonetically, which will drastically improve her reading and writing skills.
Finally, the goal of writing in an emergent diet is letter-formation and letter-sound
associations. This is another area where Jessica is already doing very well for an emergent
reader. In fact, she could be pushed beyond the goals of emergent readers (writing letters,
pretend writing, drawing, etc.) She is capable of writing full sentences and captioning her
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drawings by herself, things that are normally suggested for beginning readers. This should be
encouraged as much as possible. For now, her sentences will mostly be comprised of simple
sight words she already knows how to write. However, the more her phonological awareness
improves, the more quickly her writing will improve as well.
Jessica is at a critical point in her education. When she moves on to second grade, the
literacy demands will be even more rigorous. If she can become a beginning reader by the end
of the school year, and continue working on her literacy skills over the summer, she will have a
much easier time in second grade. However, if her phonological awareness skills continue to fall
short, the knowledge gap will only grow wider. With a bit of extra support in some areas of
literacy (phonological awareness, concept of word) and increased expectations in other areas
(alphabet, writing), Jessica will likely be able to improve at a good pace.