Intervention and Assessment of Spelling Skills in LD Classrooms

  • R. Malatesha JoshiEmail author
Part of the Literacy Studies book series (LITS, volume 13)


Spelling is a prerequisite for good writing and spelling can also aid in improving vocabulary and reading comprehension. Good spellers are almost always good readers. However, a majority of children with Learning Disability (LD) have problems with spelling and yet, research on spelling instruction is lacking compared to research on reading instruction; perhaps due to several misconceptions about the development, assessment, and instruction of spelling English words. After providing an overview of the myths and realities about English spelling, this chapter discusses what teachers in LD classrooms should know about the current research on the instruction and assessment of spelling. The role of dialect in spelling and the influence of orthography of first language on spelling English words as well as the teacher preparation in spelling is also outlined. It is concluded that spelling is a window on a person’s knowledge about words and spelling English words requires an understanding of phonological, morphological, and orthographic factors of written language.


Dialect ESL Learning disabilities Spelling assessment Spelling instruction 


  1. Ball, E. W., & Blachman, B. A. (1991). Does phoneme segmentation training in kindergarten make a difference in early word recognition and developmental spelling? Reading Research Quarterly, 26, 49–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Binks-Cantrell, E., Washburn, E., Joshi, R. M., & Hougan, M. (2012). Peter effect in the preparation of reading teachers. Scientific Studies of Reading, 16, 526–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blachman, B., Tangel, D., Ball, E., Black, R., & McGraw, D. (1999). Developing phonological awareness and word recognition skills: A two-year intervention with low-income, inner-city children. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 11, 239–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blachman, B. A., Ball, E., Black, R., & Tangel, D. M. (1994). Kindergarten teachers develop phoneme awareness in low-income, inner-city classrooms: Does it make a difference? Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 6, 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boulware-Gooden, R., Joshi, R. M., & Grigorenko, E. (2015). The role of phonology, morphology, and orthography in English and Russian spelling. Dyslexia, 21, 142–161. doi: 10.1002/dys.1498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bourassa, D., & Treiman, R. (2014). Spelling development and disability in English. In C. A. Stone, E. R. Silliman, B. J. Ehren, & G. P. Wallach (Eds.), Handbook of language and literacy: Development and disorders (2nd ed., pp. 569–583). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  7. Caravolas, M., Kessler, B., Hulme, C., & Snowling, M. (2005). Effects of orthographic consistency, frequency, and letter knowledge on children’s vowel spelling development. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 92, 307–321. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2005.08.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carreker, S. (2011). Teaching spelling. In J. R. Birsh (Ed.), Multisensory teaching of basic language skills (3rd ed., pp. 251–291). Baltimore, MD: Paul Brookes Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  9. Carreker, S., Joshi, R. M., & Boulware-Gooden, R. (2010). Spelling-related teacher knowledge and the impact of professional development on identifying appropriate instructional activities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 33, 148–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen, V., & Savage, R. (2014). Evidence for a simplicity principle: Teaching common complex grapheme to-phonemes improves reading and motivation in at-risk readers. Journal of Research in Reading, 37, 196–214. doi: 10.1111/1467-9817.12022.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chomsky, N., & Halle, M. (1968). The sound pattern of English. New York, NY: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  12. Conway, B., Joshi, R. M., Carreker, S., Boulware-Gooden, R., & Slania M. (submitted). Do types of spelling errors indicate levels of linguistic knowledge?Google Scholar
  13. Dewey, G. (1971). English spelling: Roadblock to reading. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  14. Dixon, L. Q., Zhao, J., & Joshi, R. M. (2012). One dress, two dress: Dialectal influence on morphological awareness as revealed by spelling: Evidence from Singaporean kindergartners. System: An International Journal of Educational Technology and Applied Linguistics, 40, 214–225. doi: 10.1016/j.system.2012.02.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ehri, L. C. (1989). The development of spelling knowledge and its role in reading acquisition and reading disability. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 22, 356–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ehri, L. C. (1997). Learning to read and learning to spell are one and the same, almost. In C. A. Perfetti, L. Rieben, & M. Fayol (Eds.), Learning to spell: Research, theory, and practice across languages (pp. 237–269). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  17. Ehri, L. C. (2004). Teaching phoneme awareness and phonics: An exploration of the National Reading Panel meta-analysis. In P. McCardle & V. Chhabra (Eds.), The voice of evidence in reading research (pp. 153–186). Baltimore, MD: Paul Brookes Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  18. Graham, S., Morphy, P., Harris, K., Fink-Chorzempa, B., Saddler, B., Moran, S., et al. (2008). Teaching spelling in the primary grades: A national survey of instructional practices and adaptations. American Educational Research Journal, 45, 796–825.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Graham, S., & Santangelo, T. (2014). Does spelling instruction make students better spellers, readers, and writers? A meta-analytic review. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 7, 1703–1743. doi: 10.1007/s11145-014-9517-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hanna, P. R., Hanna, J. S., Hodges, R. E., & Rudorf, E. H. (1966). Phoneme-grapheme correspondences as cues to spelling improvement, USDOE publication No. 32008. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  21. Henry, M. (2010). Unlocking literacy: Effective decoding and spelling instruction (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Paul Brookes Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  22. Joshi, R. M., & Aaron, P. G. (1990). Specific spelling disability: Factual or artifactual? Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2, 107–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Joshi, R. M., & Aaron, P. G. (2003). A new way of assessing spelling and its classroom applications. In R. M. Joshi, B. Kaczmarek, & C. K. Leong (Eds.), Literacy acquisition, assessment, and instruction: The role of phonology, orthography, and morphology (pp. 153–161). Amsterdam: Ios Press.Google Scholar
  24. Joshi, R. M., & Aaron, P. G. (Eds.). (2006). Handbook of orthography and literacy. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  25. Joshi, R. M., Binks, E., Graham, L., Dean, E., Smith, D., & Boulware-Gooden, R. (2009). Do textbooks used in university reading education courses conform to the instructional recommendations of the National Reading Panel? Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 458–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Joshi, R. M., Binks, E., Hougen, M., Dahlgren, M., Dean, E., & Smith, D. (2009). Why elementary teachers might be inadequately prepared to teach reading. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 392–402. doi: 10.1177/0022219409338736.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Joshi, R. M., Hoien, T., Xiwu-Feng, Chengappa, R., & Boulware-Gooden, R. (2006). Learning to spell by ear and by eye: A cross-linguistic comparison. In R. M. Joshi & P. G. Aaron (Eds.), Handbook of orthography and literacy (pp. 569–577). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  28. Joshi, R. M., Treiman, R., Carreker, S., & Moats, L. (2008). How words cast their spell: Spelling instruction focused on language, not memory, improves reading and writing. American Educator, 32(4), 6–16. 42–43.Google Scholar
  29. Kemp, N. (2006). Children’s spelling of base, inflected, and derived words: Links with morphological awareness. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 19, 737–765. doi: 10.1007/s11145-006-9001-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kessler, B., & Treiman, R. (2001). Relationships between sounds and letters in English monosyllables. Journal of Memory and Language, 44, 592–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kessler, B., & Treiman, R. (2003). Is English spelling chaotic? Misconceptions concerning its irregularity. Reading Psychology, 24, 291–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Larsen, S. C., Hammill, D. D., & Moats, L. C. (1999). Test of written spelling (4th ed.). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.Google Scholar
  33. Manrique, A. M. B., & Signorini, A. (1994). Phonological awareness, spelling and reading abilities in Spanish-speaking children. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 64, 429–439. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8279.1994.tb01114.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Manrique, A. M. B., & Signorini, A. (1998). Emergent writing forms in Spanish. Reading and Writing, 10, 499–517. doi: 10.1023/A:1008019206946.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Masterson, J. J., & Apel, K. (2010). The spelling sensitivity score: Noting developmental changes in spelling knowledge. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 36(1), 35–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Moats, L. (1995). Spelling: Development, disabilities, and instruction. Baltimore: York Press.Google Scholar
  37. Moats, L.C. (2005–2006). How spelling supports reading: And why it is more regular and predictable than you may think. American Educator, 29(4), 12–22. 42–43.Google Scholar
  38. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction: Reports of the subgroups (NIH publication no. 00–4754). Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  39. Pittman, R. T., Joshi, R. M., & Carreker, S. (2014). Improving the spelling ability among speakers of African American English through explicit instruction. Literacy Research and Instruction, 53, 107–133. doi: 10.1080/19388071.2013.870623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Read, C., & Treiman, R. (2013). Children’s invented spelling: What we have learned in forty years. In M. Piattelli-Palmarini & R. C. Berwick (Eds.), Rich languages from poor inputs (pp. 197–211). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Rice, J. M. (1897). The futility of spelling grind. The Forum, 23, 163–172.Google Scholar
  42. Shankweiler, D., Lundquist, E., Dreyer, L. G., & Dickinson, D. D. (1996). Reading and spelling difficulties in high school students: Causes and consequences. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 8, 267–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Terry, N. P., & Connor, C. M. (2010). African American English and spelling: How do second graders spell dialect-sensitive features of words? Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 33, 199–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Treiman, R. (1993). Beginning to spell. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Treiman, R. (2004). Spelling and dialect: Comparisons between speakers of African American vernacular English and White speakers. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 11, 338–342. doi: 10.3758/BF03196580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Treiman, R. (2006). Knowledge about letters as a foundation for reading and spelling. In R. M. Joshi & P. G. Aaron (Eds.), Handbook of orthography and literacy (pp. 581–599). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  47. Treiman, R., & Barry, C. (2000). Dialect and autography: Some differences between American and British spellers. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 26, 1423–1430. doi: 10.1037/0278-7393.26.6.1423.Google Scholar
  48. Treiman, R., Goswami, U., Tincoff, R., & Leevers, H. (1997). Effects of dialect on American and British children’s spelling. Child Development, 68, 229–245. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1997.tb01937.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Venezky, R. L. (1980). From Webster to rice to Roosevelt. In U. Frith (Ed.), Cognitive processes in spelling (pp. 9–30). London: Academic.Google Scholar
  50. Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Wexler, J., Swanson, E. A., Edmonds, M., & Kim, A. (2006). A synthesis of spelling and reading interventions and their effects on the spelling outcomes of students with LD. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39, 528–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Washburn, E. K., Binks-Cantrell, E. S., & Joshi, R. M. (2014). What do preservice teachers from the US and UK know about dyslexia? Dyslexia, 20, 1–18. doi: 10.1002/dys.1459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Washburn, E. K., Joshi, R. M., & Binks-Cantrell, E. S. (2011). Are preservice teachers prepared to teach struggling readers? Annals of Dyslexia, 61, 21–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Washington, J. A., & Craig, H. K. (2002). Morphosyntactic forms of African American English used by young children and their caregivers. Applied Psycholinguistics, 23, 209–231. doi: 10.1017/S0142716402002035.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zamora, J. P., Ji, X., Luxi Feng, Zhang, S., Gómez-Velázquez, F., & Joshi, R. M. (2015, March). Spanish Spelling Error Analysis (Análisis de Errores de Ortografía Españolas). Undergraduate student research seminar, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Education & Human DevelopmentTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

Personalised recommendations