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A quick guide to Sound Waves assessment for Years 1 to 6

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A quick guide to Sound Waves assessment for Years 1 to 6

Sound Waves Spelling 17/2/22


When it comes to assessment, a meaningful approach will help you closely monitor your students’ progress. Sound Waves provides assessment options for Foundation to Year 6. In this article, we’ll look closely at the assessment schedule for Years 1 to 6 as they share a similar structure. These year levels include two types of assessment: the Spelling Diagnostic Test and Remediation Pack and Content Reviews. Each assessment has its own benefits and together they form a perfect pair to give you a comprehensive picture of your students’ spelling knowledge and application.

Let’s unpack what each assessment entails and see how they fit into your yearly plan.

Spelling Diagnostic Test and Remediation Pack
What is it and what does it do?

The Spelling Diagnostic Test and Remediation Pack is a single-word spelling test consisting of 70 words. There are two versions of the pack, one for lower years students (Years 1–3) and one for upper years students (Years 4–6). The test allows you to diagnose students’ strengths and weaknesses with specific spelling concepts and use the targeted remediation resources where required.

Unlike other traditional spelling tests where whole words are marked as correct or incorrect, the Spelling Diagnostic Test focuses on whether specific components within each word are correct or incorrect. This in-depth approach to marking allows you to closely monitor students’ progress with specific spelling skills, such as their ability to use consonant digraphs, consonant graph blends, suffixes and more.

When do I administer it?

Administer the Spelling Diagnostic Test at the beginning of Semester 1 and Semester 2 (see assessment schedule below). This approach allows you to get the most out of the diagnostic and remediation process, where you:

  • administer the test to your new students at the start of the year
  • implement any required remediation in Term 1 and Term 2
  • administer the test again at the start of Term 3
  • implement required remediation in Term 3 and Term 4.
How can I use the information?

Record students’ results in the Spelling Diagnostic Results Spreadsheet to automatically assign an achievement level (Not Evident, Developing or Achieved) for each focus component. The spreadsheet has a colour-coding system that will automatically highlight cells red, yellow or green, making it easy to identify which students are sitting at Not Evident for particular spelling concepts. As an added bonus, the Spelling Diagnostic Results Spreadsheet allows you to input students’ results for both Semester 1 and Semester 2 so you can easily compare progress between the two sittings.

If any of your students do not demonstrate an Achieved level, use the resources from the Remediation Pack. It includes activities, games and worksheets for each focus component so you can provide targeted support in a variety of ways. Use time on a Friday (outside the weekly spelling lesson schedule that runs Monday to Thursday) to conduct this remediation as required.

Content Reviews
What are they and what do they do?

The Content Reviews allow you to check students’ understanding of phoneme–grapheme relationships and monitor their long-term retention of previously taught Focus Concepts. There are eight Content Reviews per year level. Each review includes a section on single-word dictation, phrase/sentence dictation and Focus Concept activities.

The Content Reviews provide you with regular feedback on students’ knowledge. Use this feedback to address misconceptions and inform future teaching.

The reviews can help answer the following questions:

  • Did the student learn what I taught them over the previous four to five weeks?
  • Did they retain the knowledge and processes correctly?
  • Can they apply the grapheme choice or suffix addition pattern to a new context?
  • Do I need to revisit a concept or clarify a misconception?

We highly recommend using the Content Reviews to replace a traditional Friday spelling test as they give you a more valuable picture of a student’s spelling ability as well as information that directly relates to the teaching undertaken in your spelling lessons.

When do I administer them?

You should administer a Content Review at the middle and end of each term (see assessment schedule below). Each Content Review should take no more than 40 minutes to complete.

How can I use the information?

After marking a Content Review, you can record students’ results in the Content Review Results Spreadsheet (optional). This spreadsheet allows you to easily identify students who scored 50% or less for dictation and Focus Concept activities. However, unlike the Spelling Diagnostic Test results, it is not essential to record the Content Review results in the spreadsheet provided. If a student scored 50% or less for Single Word Dictation or a Focus Concept, the related spreadsheet cell will become orange. The Phrase/Sentence Dictation cells will only become orange if a student scored 0 out of 2.

If you notice a large number of students struggling with a particular Focus Concept, refer to the Scope and Sequence to identify where and when you can address this through your teaching. Here are two possible ways to achieve this:

  • If the concept is repeated in a future unit, students will have an additional opportunity to learn and understand the concept as part of your regular lessons. When you’ve identified a Focus Concept that’s giving students trouble, such as the suffix ed, take note of when the concept is repeated so you can be sure to spend time explicitly teaching and helping students with the concept next time.
  • If the concept is not repeated in a future unit, use time on a Friday (outside the weekly spelling lesson schedule that runs Monday to Thursday) to revisit the lessons or printable resources from a previous unit. You could also simply revise the concept through a game of Bingo or a dictation exercise.
Assessment schedule

Together, the Spelling Diagnostic Test and Remediation Pack and Content Reviews provide regular assessment which is critical to check students’ progress and provide timely intervention or extra practice when needed.

The following assessment schedule shows how both types of assessment fit into a school year for Years 1 to 6.


Note: The Spelling Diagnostic Test is available in a lower years version (for Years 1–3) and an upper years version (for Years 4–6). The Content Reviews are specific to each year level.

Where do I find the assessment resources?

Log in to the Sound Waves Teaching Resources and open the Assessment section. Click on the relevant year group button to find all your assessment resources in one handy place. Here, you can access detailed information about the assessment, including all the resources you need to administer, mark, remediate and record results. In addition to being available in the Assessment section, the Content Reviews are also conveniently located within the relevant units.

So there you have it, an overview of the Spelling Diagnostic Test and Remediation Pack and Content Reviews to demonstrate how you will assess and monitor student progress throughout the year.

Note: Foundation has its own assessment resources (a checklist and remediation). You can access all the Foundation assessment resources via the Foundation button in the Assessment section in the Sound Waves Teaching Resources.

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