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Assessment Strategies and Reading Profiles

Print Skills (Alphabetics)

woman reading

The Print Skills include:

  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Word Analysis (or Phonics)
  • Word Recognition
  • Spelling
  • Fluency

Print Skills come into play at the very start of the reading process: the reader recognizes a group of letters as a word, produces an internal phonological representation of that word, and accesses its meaning.RR For proficient readers all of this takes less than 250 milliseconds (one-fourth of a second).RR Because the Word Recognition of proficient readers is so rapid and automatic, they are able to focus all of their attention on the meaning of what they are reading. But many ABE learners (and even a few in ASE) have difficulties with Print Skills that make their reading slow, effortful, and inaccurate—seriously undermining their comprehension.RR

Print Skills across NRS Levels

Beginning level readers (GE 0-3.9), as expected, have difficulties with the fundamentals of reading: Phonemic Awareness and Word Analysis, as well as Word Recognition and Spelling. Those who are complete beginners may also lack rapid and automatic identification of the letter names.

Intermediate level readers (GE 4-8.9) usually possess some basic Word Analysis skills, but may be unsure how to decode less-common phonics patterns and longer multi-syllable words. And, sometimes they guess at words rather than use the phonics knowledge they possess. This leads to slow, inaccurate reading, with many hesitations and self-corrections.

Non-native Speakers of English (NNSE) enrolled in intermediate ABE classes usually experience fewer difficulties with Print Skills than native English speakers. But NNSE sometimes read slowly because they have trouble understanding the meanings of some words and unfamiliar grammar features.RR

ASE level readers (GE 9-12) usually read narrative text and texts on familiar topics accurately, fluently, and at an adequate rate. But their reading becomes labored when they encounter the longer sentences and denser texts of academic materials. Although this is not primarily a Print Skills problem, oral reading Fluency practice combined with discussion (guided oral reading) can help these learners gain more confidence with academic texts.

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