Beginning Alphabetics Tests and Tools

Beginning Alphabetics Tests and Tools (BATT) strives to provide a ‘principled’ system for ABE/ESL teachers who want and/or need to develop their students’ knowledge of Roman alphabet letters, English letter-sound patterns, sight or high frequency words, and transfer of those lettersound-word skills to text fluency and comprehension.

Marn Frank
Kristin Perry
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
ABE Teaching and Learning Advancement System (ATLAS), Hamline University
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages
Target Audience

Beginning Alphabetics Tests and Tools (BATT) strives to provide a 'principled' system for ABE/ESL teachers who want and/or need to develop their students' knowledge of Roman alphabet letters, English letter-sound patterns, sight or high frequency words, and transfer those letter-sound-word skills to text fluency and comprehension. This resource includes: 1) teacher-friendly tests for determining known and unknown skills, 2) evidence-based reading instructional practices, orders, approaches, and lesson plans for teaching unknown skills, 3) teacher-tested lists of other activities and materials, and 4) time-saving teacher resources. It was also piloted by a group of MN ABE/ESL reading teachers, who contributed their insightful feedback, teacher-tested tools, and testimonials.

BATT is closely aligned with four Reading Standards: Foundational Skills (K–5) from the Minnesota Academic Standards (MDE, 2010) and Career and College Readiness Standards for Adult Education (OCTAE, 2013):

  • RF.1. Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print. (Print Concepts)
  • RF.2. Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes). (Phonological Awareness)
  • RF.3. Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words. (Phonics and Word Recognition)
  • RF.4. Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension. (Fluency)


What the experts say

Beginning Alphabetics Tests and Tools offers ABE/ESL instructors a simple but comprehensive toolkit for encouraging adults to develop a strong foundation for reading English well. The activities within support best practices from evidence-based recommendations in literacy instruction and provide instructors with the tools (handouts, plans, resources, tests) to engage beginning readers as they learn to read and, hopefully, enjoy reading!

The resource provides a teacher-friendly collection of free, accessible assessment tools for practitioners to use that target alphabetics instruction for beginning readers. In addition, the resource takes a pragmatic approach to phonics instruction, thoughtfully describing and then applying synthetic, analogic, and analytic approaches in ways that make sense for various purposes. Furthermore, the five lesson plans progress developmentally, addressing increasingly higher stages of students’ alphabetics knowledge and providing a picture of the scope of instruction in this area. If used within a balanced approach to literacy instruction and introduced with training (or used by someone with a general knowledge of alphabetics instruction), this resource could be a valuable one for teachers of adults being introduced to literacy.

Users are encouraged to read the front matter at the beginning of each section with care since good directions and advice are offered there—and it may be easy to overlook them. Of special note: the authors invite users to adapt the assessment directions as needed, and practitioners may want to do so. For instance, students are usually not told what the test is about until step 6 or 7—after the demonstration of what to do on the test. In general, it would be better to tell them the purpose of test first and then provide the demo, so students know what to attend to in the demo.

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