Evidence Based Spelling Programs

Beyond the Weekly Word List

We live in a literate society, in which conventional spelling is required if one wishes to be taken seriously in one’s professional endeavors. Spelling instruction, on the other hand, is frequently overlooked, being taught as a stand-alone task that primarily consists of whole-group instruction, a uniform spelling list, and weekly tests.

There is substantial evidence to support the notion that spelling is important. It has been demonstrated that explicit, systematic spelling instruction improves performance in reading fluency and comprehension tests. More practice at spelling improves a student’s reading ability than practice at reading improves spelling ability in students.

Reading ability is a reliable predictor of spelling ability and vice versa. When Louisa Moats writes “How Spelling Supports Reading,” she describes research that has found a connection between learning to spell and learning to read—that they both rely on similar cognitive practices and the same knowledge, such as the relationships between letters and sounds—and that they are both connected.

The promotion for the newsletter has come to an end.
There is also a strong correlation between the ease with spelling and fluency in writing, according to research. When drafting, students who must devote a significant amount of time to fundamental skills such as handwriting, spelling, and grammar forfeit valuable cognitive resources that are required for fluent writing. They eventually lose their ability to speak because they get stuck trying to spell a word far too frequently. Before children can devote their time and attention to the planning, organizing, and construction of written pieces, they must first become proficient in the use of their hands and the correct spelling.

As a result, being able to spell correctly is essential. According to Moats, “the advantages of good spelling extend far beyond the linguistic realm.” When it comes to young children, research shows that spelling helps them learn to read, and when it comes to older children, it’s likely that learning about meaningful relationships between words will help them grow their vocabulary and improve their comprehension when they read.”

When assessing students’ spelling development, we must consider their current level as well as their future needs and how to help them improve their spelling abilities.


As students learn to spell, they make progress in their understanding of three types of words known as layers of words: the alphabetic, the pattern, and the meaning layers (or layers of meaning). Unlike other skills, spelling is not something that can be learned by rote memorization; rather, it requires a thorough understanding of the spelling system.

The alphabetic layer represents the correspondences between letters and sounds.
This layer goes beyond letter-sound relationships and focuses on patterns that guide the grouping of letters, such as vowel categories, in the font’s design. Recognizing letter patterns aids in the development of fluency in oral reading and writing for students.
Prefixes, suffixes, as well as Greek and Latin stems, are used to provide meaning to words in the meaning layer of the structure model.
This progression allows students to expand their word knowledge, become more informed and flexible with spelling strategies, and make connections between spelling and meaning as they progress through the program.


The importance of looking beyond students’ mastery of the weekly word list when assessing their spelling cannot be overstated. This is an opportunity to delve a little deeper and assess students’ understanding of sounds and patterns in a more formal setting.

For example, what are the things that students do correctly? What are some of the words that they frequently misspell? Is there a pattern of mistakes? Examination of students’ spelling provides the teacher with the opportunity to form small, homogeneous groups for word study as well as to gain a thorough understanding of the relationship between the students’ development and the instructional opportunities.

Spelling inventories are a useful tool for identifying mastery of word elements and specific weaknesses in a student’s spelling ability.

It is an informal phonics assessment that can be used to determine a student’s abilities and instructional needs in the areas of phonics and decoding. The Quick Phonics Screener can be used in a variety of settings.
To determine the developmental level and spelling stage of a student, the Primary Spelling Inventory takes into account the student’s spelling skills. It brings together what the student has learned so far and what skills still need to be improved.


Word study is a research-based approach that can be used in small group instruction to improve student comprehension. A systematic approach to teaching word structure that is explicit and systematic, based on letter-sound relationships, word patterns, and word meaning is used. In the course of word study, Word Sorts from Words Their Way are an excellent tool for exploring new words (word games and word hunts are two others). Students investigate words by comparing pictures, sounds, and meanings in the Word Sorts activity. This encourages students to make use of what they already know about words and related patterns, which can be beneficial when analyzing unfamiliar words in reading and spelling. Word Sorts are hands-on, flexible, and efficient activities that are tailored to the instructional level of the students.

Understanding the spelling system as well as the needs of each student provides teachers with the opportunity to differentiate instruction and design an appropriate instructional plan for all of their students. Students gain the foundational skills and strategies they need to become better spellers, readers, and writers by participating in small group word study sessions that are explicit and organized.