Reading and Writing

, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 1063–1081 | Cite as

The effect of orthographic complexity on Spanish spelling in Grades 1–3

  • Karen Ford
  • Marcia Invernizzi
  • Francis Huang


This study was designed to identify a continuum of orthographic features that characterize Spanish spelling development in Grades 1–3. Two research questions guided this work: (1) Is there a hierarchy of orthographic features that affect students’ spelling accuracy in Spanish over and above other school-level, student-level, and word-level factors? and (2) If there is such a hierarchy, do students master these orthographic features in a knowledge-based continuum that supersedes grade placement? The authors used logistic regression modeling to demonstrate that the orthographic features tested in this study represent a developmental hierarchy, moving from sound-based features to context-dependent pattern-based features and finally to meaning-based, or morphological, features. Results showed that the probability of correctly representing specific spelling features decreases as a student moves along the continuum of orthographic knowledge, regardless of the student’s spelling ability, although the probability of spelling any given feature correctly is greater for students with higher levels of overall spelling development. The authors controlled for school-, student- and word-level factors other than orthographic features that might affect students’ spelling in Spanish (i.e., school placement, student grade level, student gender, word frequency, and word length).


Spanish spelling Orthographic feature inventory Spelling inventory Developmental spelling 



The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education, through Grant R305A090015 to the University of Virginia. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the Department of Education.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Curry School of EducationUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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