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Spelling Tests - keep or scrap?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by felicityoval, Oct 2, 2015.

  1. felicityoval

    felicityoval New commenter


    Just wondering what everyone's opinion of spelling tests in the traditional sense are. At my school we are just not sure they provide value for the time they take, marking, recording or support the children in actually applying any spellings into independent writing. Therefore we are thinking of scraping them in favour for a greater focus on reading at home and choosing spellings to learn if parents want at home. These spellings would not be tested in school. With the GPS test for year 6 and now for year 2... I'm not 100% certain.
    What are your thoughts?
    Thank you
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I'm an 'old-in-the-tooth' teacher and have seen children can learn spellings, often getting them all correct in a spelling test, but then, rarely transferring that knowledge to their 'ordinary' writing.
    Hence years ago I started making up 'dictations' to test their spellings, rather like in the SATs papers. With the emphasis on more grammar and 'formal' lessons I admit I've started doing the same again.
    So the children learn 'a rule' rather than a particular spelling and then I dictate a small passage with examples of words which 'follow the rule' the following week.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
    asnac likes this.
  3. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    We work on spellings in class (daily 10 minute) and use whiteboards write/show rather than tests.
    Words are analysed using phonics - broken down into syllables - use spelling voices to say word precisely - identify any parts that individual children find a problem and relate that to known words containing same representation for the sound.
    For the rest of the week the teacher says a word and children write it on their board - teacher shows correct spelling and child identifies any errors - erase and repeat until all words covered. Next day give words in different order.

    The problem with "rules" (in my option) is that for every so called rule there are so many exceptions the rule is useless.
    asnac and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  4. squirrel9367

    squirrel9367 New commenter

    I often think the spelling tests are a parental PR exercise as they expect it. The children who really need to learn spellings rarely do so. I do test weekly but as I have 2 TAs it doesn't take long.
  5. asnac

    asnac Lead commenter

    If we assume that spelling tests are just about showing that you have learned the spelling, then there's a case for not having them. But learning spellings feeds into the curriculum in other ways - when you familiarise yourself with a written word it increases the speed with which you will recognise it when you come across it in your reading. By learning words with particular patterns, you improve your vocabulary too, as well as your understanding of the roots upon which our language is structured. Also, regular spelling tests are an effective and constant reminder to children that spelling matters.

    Yes, children get spellings wrong that they got right in a test. But all teachers know that learning is not a process where you commit something to memory and it's embedded for good. You may get the spelling wrong in your writing, but it'll be pointed out to you, and you'll correct it, and maybe get it wrong again - but at some point all the repeated input (including the learning at home with parents, the LSCWC, the writing of the words in sentences or whatever) will sink in.

    I also find it valuable for the home-school partnership: parents can sometimes feel helpless, and spellings are a very specific way that they can engage in a dialogue with their children about the educational process.

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