An open letter to tutors on understanding their student’s reading assessment:

Student Reading Books Showing StudiousWritten by Dixie Catlett, Tutor Trainer

Part 1 – Word recognition

The “check marks” likely indicate that your student read and pronounced those words correctly.  Where a word is written-in, that probably indicates a word that he/she said that did NOT match the word printed on the student page.  Word List 36 shows the results of a similar test administration using a more detailed list of words at the level where your student’s results on the initial placement list indicated he/she was struggling.

Part 2c – Word endings

In this segment of the assessment, the Assessor points out to the student that a word is already printed on the student page (“high”) and the student is asked to write on the blank line below a related word “higher” which adds an ending to the word already printed on the line above.  For each word in this segment, the Assessor reads the target word and the student is to write that specific word (“higher”). After the student attempts a word, they move on to the next word in the segment, one-by-one. Many early readers look only at the first part of the word, and then guess the word from context, not paying much attention to endings.  Others don’t know how to spell word endings they hear.

NOTE:   Laubach introduces endings in a specific order in each level.  Look through the teacher manual instructions for the level you and your student are working on, and you will note that various word endings are presented throughout the book.  You will be teaching your student how to add those endings to words as you go through your regular lessons.  Be sure to teach the endings using your teacher manual instructions, pointing out to your student how the ending changes the word.

Part 3 – Spelling

Laubach Way to Reading has supplemental books that emphasize spelling by related “word families”.  This approach teaches words with similar middle or ending patterns – such as bat, rat, spat, splat or each, teach, reach.  For many native English speakers who struggle with spelling, this approach is very different from how they were originally taught spelling, and it can be very effective.  We have or can purchase from New Reader’s Press supplemental books called “Patterns of Spelling” which may be very helpful for you to use with your student.  NOTE:  It may also be helpful to cover spelling lessons in the Patterns of Spelling series that are numbered BELOW the Laubach Way to Reading level you are teaching, since your student may not have learned the patterns yet for words he could read already read by sight or sound out at his initial assessment.


Part 4c –Put the elements in order

Yes.  Practice on sequencing will help Mr. Taylor learn to WRITE better, and to better organize his thinking when he is reading a passage for comprehension.  You might have him tell you about some part of everyday living, like what he does when he first gets up in the morning and gets ready for work.  Write each on an index card in simple language.  Then mix them up.  Have your student arrange the cards on the table in the proper order.  Now do the same on a list on paper.  Have him number the first action “1”, next action “2”, etc. on the list that is out of order.  That will teach him how to do the exercise he struggled with on the assessment.  Now take a simple story (maybe something from your reading lessons) and do the same.  As you read a story in Laubach, you might also start pointing out the words that indicate what comes first, next, was happened in the past.  That would help your student recognize the clues that help a reader organize the action in the story in their own minds, since sometimes the story will not be presented in chronological order.

 Part 5 a,b,c,d,e,f

These segments of the Assessment cover examples of ways reading and writing are used in practical living.  Check writing is often a struggle for students who either do not write checks or who have trouble spelling the “number words.” If your student wants, you might want to borrow from the Literacy Council’s Lending Library a copy of Laubach Way to Reading Teacher and Student Book 1 to use reviewing the “number words” – beginning in about Lesson 10 of Skill Book 1, there is a rich section on numbers that I have found helps many students who read at higher levels. The “calendar words” sections in that level are also very helpful.

Like check-writing, it is great to give your student practice on practical living reading/writing that they may encounter in their lives.  Just as you are doing with the word-related spelling words, this makes your tutoring very relevant immediately in your student’s life.  Encourage him to tell you about other activities of daily living where he feels reading/writing better would help him, and feel free to incorporate them into your lessons as you feel is appropriate.  For example:

  • Reading grocery ads or other store ads
  • Filling in a job application form
  • Reading a recipe or medicine bottle, etc.
  • Reading a timetable for the bus schedule here in Anne Arundel County (not an easy thing!)
  • Reading the arrivals board at the airport would parallel the skills that the assessment was trying to assess using the timetable.  That would teach a valuable skill your student might need in the future.

Refresh your training

I hope that this was helpful to you.  Be sure to attend when you can any of the Tutor Tune-Up sessions that bring tutors together to share tips and tricks.  I find them very helpful for work I do with my student.