Breaking News: Phonological Awareness is necessary for Reading!
Research has found that phonological skills are related to speech sound and literacy development. Because of this relationship, these skills should be assessed in children who have difficulties with speech, language, and/or reading (Catts, 1993; Gillon, 2002, 2005). An understanding of phonological awareness is fundamental for students to develop reading skills.
Describing a student’s phonological awareness skills can make it easier for educators and clinicians to target early reading difficulties (Catts, 1993; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000; Stanovich, 2000), writing skills (Clarke-Klein & Hodson, 1995), and speech and language skills (Carroll & Snowling, 2004; Gillon, 2000, 2002, 2005).
1 Test – 6 Different Skills
The Pro-PA helps create a complete picture of a student’s skills in phonological awareness by assessing and analyzing errors and providing information about the approximate skill in each individual area. A student’s strengths and weaknesses can be described as not attained (<50% success), emerging (50-79% success), or achieved (> or = 80% success). An understanding of the skills attained and the errors made by a child will result in an intervention plan that can appropriately and specifically target the child’s phonological awareness difficulties.
The first section is Rhyming, and addresses both Rhyming Identification and Rhyming Production.
After Rhyming comes Blending: which includes Blending Syllables and Blending Sounds in Words (including consonant clusters).
The third section is Isolating Phonemes and includes first, last, and middle sounds in words.
Segmenting includes Separating Words, Syllables, and Sounds (including consonant clusters).
Deleting includes deleting syllables and deleting the first sound in words (including consonant clusters).
Finally, Substituting Phonemes includes changing the first and last sounds in words.
Using the Screener
Pro-PA is estimated to take between 10 and 20 minutes to administer. The time to administer will depend on the age and skill level of the child.
Adding and Editing Users
Pro-PA was designed with busy clinicians in mind and is designed to include all the information needed during an initial, and subsequent, screening. In order to administer the Pro-PA, the examiner must first enter the name and the date of birth of student being tested.
Adding and editing students is extremely easy. Simply tap on “Add Student” in the lower left corner of the main screen page to create a new student profile.
A pop-up window will display allowing the examiner to enter the information.
In addition to the name and the date of birth of student being tested; examiners can also include the name of the teacher, grade of the student, and add students to groups when adding a student.
Afterwards, click ‘add’ to store the information.
The student will then appear in the left hand column. Repeat this process for every student to whom you wish to administer the Pro-PA.
To EDIT a student, simply tap on the icon next to the student’s name.
The same pop-up window will display with the information already populated. Change the information as needed and tap “save.”
You can add a group by clicking the “Add Group” button at the bottom of the main screen page. This is very helpful for organizing screenings by classrooms, teachers, or RTI groups.
A pop-up window will display allowing the professional to begin naming groups.
Groups will appear in the left-hand column only when students are assigned to them. Students can be assigned to groups when the student profile is created, or, by editing the profile. At the bottom of the profile information box is the option to add a student to a group by scrolling through the existing group names or adding a new group name. In the image above, the student was being added to the group called “1st Grade.”
Once a student has been assigned to a group, they will appear in alphabetical order (by first name) under the group name with an arrow to the left of the student’s name to indicate that they belong to that group. In the image here you can see that Leah belongs to the group “1st Grade,” while Chris belongs to the 2nd grade group. Bob does not belong to a group.
Deleting a Student Profile
It is possible to delete a student profile. Simply tap on the “edit” button at the top of the student roster. Then tap on the red – sign that populates next to the student’s name. A “delete” button will show on the right of their name. If you do not want to delete the student simply slide the name over to the right and the delete button will disappear.
Beginning an Assessment
In order to initiate an assessment you must first choose the student you want to assess. Then you tap on the “New test” button located on the right side of the screen.
In this image, Bob is the selected student and he has an incomplete test. The clinician can complete the test that has been started or click “New test” to start over.
Built in Instructions!
Instructions and potential wording are provided to you for each section under the ‘info’ button while testing.
Wording is suggested only.
Use whatever wording is most familiar to the child so that they understand the task.
The in-app manual includes a copy of each set of instructions as well as a listing of the pre-written notes available for each section. The manual is located in the “Info” section on the main screen page. A video tutorial is also available in this area.
There are four buttons on the far right side of the screen. From top to bottom:
Skip to the next section.
Pause the test and return to the home screen.
Write a note.
Mark “Test Complete.” If there are incomplete sections, a pop-up window will display asking for confirmation.
You can skip back and forth between subtests within a section (e.g. Rhyme Identification, Rhyme Production) by clicking the green arrow at the bottom left or right of the screen
In all of the Segmenting subtests, a counter is available by clicking the “counter” button at the bottom of the screen.
A screen with 8 circles appears. Students can touch each button to make it change color as they segment words, syllables, or sounds. This visualization often helps students to keep track as they segment, especially when segmenting, or ‘counting,’ words. To go back to the test, click the ‘Back’ button in the top left.
Creating a Note
In each section, the professional can make notes about the type of errors and any observations seen during administration.
Recognizing how busy SLPs and other professionals are, Pro-PA incorporates pre-written notes specific to each screen.
The pre-written notes describe common error and behavior patterns and can be selected by clicking the green + sign in the bottom right corner of the notes pop-up window.
Professionals can also write their own notes if the pre-written ones do not fill the need.
How to Score
Recording errors on the Pro-PA is simple. In order to allow skipped section to be scored as “not administered” rather than “not attained,” each item is set to ‘Not Administered’ by default. The professional will simply click the “correct” or “missed” button as needed.
It is important to mark correct or incorrect for the trial items as well. While they are not included in the score calculation, they are included in the ceiling calculation of four incorrect in a row. Once the ceiling has been reached, the app will automatically move to the next section.
If the examiner skips to the next section after administering two or more items (because the student has gotten both trials and the first two items incorrect), that section will be calculated as ‘unattained’, rather than ‘not administered’.
Ending the Session
Sections of Pro-PA can be skipped if they do not apply to a specific situation or needs. Once the examiner finishes administration of Pro-PA, they will find a screen asking if the assessment has been completed.
If the examiner has missed or skipped sections it will ask if they want to mark this test as complete – click ‘yes’ if you meant to skip sections and click ‘no’ if you want to continue the assessment at another time or go back to administer sections you may have previously skipped.
If the professional needs to stop testing for a period of time and plans to come back to the assessment later, he or she can click the “home” button on the right hand side to go back to the menu and pause the testing session.
As shown here, the test that was not finished will be shown as “Incomplete” in red. The session may be resumed by clicking on the testing session again at a later date.
Data! Results! Recommendations!
The Pro-PA provides two ways of viewing results for interpretation. Access to the data occurs from the student profile on the main page.
A completed screening will indicate “complete” in green and offer the opportunity to “Preview Report,” “Preview Results,” and “Add/Edit Recommendations.
In this section, Pro-PA presents presents the results in seven different color coded tables for each of the major sections (e.g. Rhyming, Blending, Isolating, etc.).
The overall score of all subtests within a larger section is tabulated and color coded for faster interpretation (e.g. the combined rhyme identification and production totals are represented as the associated color on the tab that says “Rhyming”).
Click on a section to see the breakdown of scores within that section.
For instance, here you can see, Leah is able to substitute initial phonemes with 60% accuracy, and final phonemes with 80% accuracy.
Preview Report – Individual
The Pro-PA also provides a comprehensive report for every assessment. To access the report, simply tap “Preview Report.”
The narrative will include the student’s name, date of birth, and age at the time of screening.
Within the narrative is a breakdown of results by section.
Within each section is a short narrative about that section, followed by an “Overall” skill level.
A table is included showing a breakdown of each individual skill type with a percentage of correct/incorrect questions, as well as a qualitative achievement level.
The qualitative information will include “Achieved,” “Emerging,” “Not Achieved,” and “Not Administered.”
At the bottom of the comprehensive report are “recommendations” and “general test observances.” General Test observances are obtained from the “Notes” entries.
One feature of Pro-PA that many professionals enjoy, is the ability to add recommendations directly into the report. After completing the assessment, simply tap on the gold “Add/Edit Recommendations” button at the right of the student profile screening information.
A pop-up window will display allowing the professional to type in the recommendations. These recommendations will display at the bottom of the comprehensive report.
At the bottom of the recommendations page, is a listing of potential Smarty Ears apps that may prove beneficial for the specific weaknesses displayed by the student.
Preview Report – Group
The Pro-PA provides a “group” report as well as individual reports. Simply tap on the group name. To the right, the class name will display and the “Class Trends” report will be available.’
This report looks very similar to the report for the individual student; however, it includes some differences. For instance, it includes age ranges rather than individual ages as well as the range of dates the assessment was administered.
The group report feature is a wonderful addition to see how the class as a whole is responding to instruction.
The professional can e-mail the results of the screening and/or the comprehensive report immediately after administration. To email the information, tap on the “share” button found in the upper right hand corner on either screen.
A pop-up screen will display with options for sharing results by e-mail, printing, exporting the results to the Therapy Report Center, or opening in another app of your choice (e.g., dropbox, PDF viewer). The Therapy Report Center is a free Smarty Ears app designed to help compile all student data into one area for optimum data management.
Users can also e-mail the results to themselves in order to save for their records and keep a backup of the student’s assessment, or to send to the parents. The e-mail is set up as a simple report and can be edited text or a PDF.
Pro-PA and the Common Core
Phonological awareness is a cornerstone of the English/Language Arts/Reading state standards. As early as Kindergarten, students are expected to demonstrate adequate phonological awareness from recognizing and producing rhyming words (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.2.A) to isolating and pronouncing the initial, medial, and final sounds in words (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.2.D).
Pro-PA and Response to Intervention
Many students struggle with reading accuracy and reading fluency. Many of these students lack appropriate phonological awareness skills to accurate decode and encode phonemes. The Profile of Phonological Awareness is an outstanding first step in determining which students are lacking appropriate phonological awareness needed for reading.
In addition, because of the information available in the results section, the professional can be confident of the specific skill that is lacking and the direction needed for specific intensive intervention.
Finally, by utilizing the “groups” feature, it is possible to track the phonological awareness skills as a group. This enables whole classroom instruction as well as data to support any necessary change to curriculum.
The Profile of Phonological Awareness has the following features.
Ability to enter students’ information and track their progress over time;
Tests most areas of phonological awareness development with separate information about consonant clusters;
Offers ability to choose which sections to administer and ability to skip sections without compromising totals;
Ability to see students’ skill levels at a glance with color coded scores;
Ability to see a group of students’ average skill levels at a glance with color coded scores;
E-mail and/or print test results immediately after its administration;
Color changing counter included to help students visualize segmenting and provide support to students when
Automatic analyses of the following skill areas:
– Rhyming – Identification and production
– Blending – Syllables and sounds in words (including consonant clusters)
– Isolating – First, last, and middle sounds in words
– Segmenting – Words, syllables, and sounds (including consonant clusters)
– Deleting – Syllables and the first sound in words (including consonant clusters)
– Substituting – First and last sound in words
Compatible with iPad running iOS 5.1.1 or later;
Add notes throughout the assessment, with pre-written common errors or answer patterns available for faster
“This is an easy-to-use, time-efficient assessment tool with a thorough manual. It evaluates the various aspects of phonological awareness and is a great asset for SLPs and educators who work on these skills with students.” http://speechieapps.com/
“If you work with pre-school to early elementary aged children, Pro-PA can be useful as a screening tool for phonological awareness skills and as a means of selecting appropriate phonological awareness goals. I believe the app is appropriate for use by SLPs, educators and reading specialists.” http://www.speechgadget.com/
“The app doesn’t give standardized scores but it’s perfect to do baseline assessments with!” http://thespeechroomnews.com/
“Profile of Phonological Awareness, by Smarty Ears, is a great tool for speech implementers, interventionists, reading and classroom teachers.” http://teacherswithapps.com/
“Truly this is a great little app for progress monitoring as well as early identification. If phonological awareness is something you assess, this is a great app to have on hand.” www.speechadventures.com/
Andreassen, M., & Smith, S. (2008). Age of acquisition. Retrieved from http://phonologicalawareness.org/11.html
Carroll, J., & Snowling, M. (2004). Language and phonological skills in children at high risk of reading difficulties. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(3), 631-640.
Catts, H. (1993). The relationship between speech-language impairments and reading disabilities. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 36, 948-958.
Clarke-Klein, S., & Hodson, B. (1995). A phonologically based analysis of misspellings by third graders with disordered-phonology histories. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 38, 839-849.
Gillon, G. (2000). The efficacy of phonological awareness intervention for children with spoken language impairment. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 31, 126-141.
Gillon, G. (2002). Follow-up study investigating the benefits of phonological awareness intervention for children with spoken language impairment. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 37(4), 381-400.
Gillon, G. (2005). Facilitating phoneme awareness development in 3- and 4-year-old children with speech impairment. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 36, 308-324.
Johnson, K. L., & Roseman, B. A. (2003). The source for phonological awareness. East Moline, IL: Linguisystems, Inc..
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (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. Retrieved December 13, 2011, from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/nrp/upload/report.pdf
Paul, R. (2007). Language disorders from infancy through adolescence: Assessment & intervention (3rd ed.). St. Louis: Mosby, Inc.
Schrieber, L. (2008, May 19). Development of phonological awareness skill. Retrieved from http://www.speechpathology.com/articles/development-of-phonological-awareness-skill-1200
Stanovich, K. (2000). Progress in understanding reading: Scientific foundations and new frontiers. New York: Guilford Press.