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Guidelines for interpreting the % of misspelled words in writing samples for children in grades 1-9

A research article by Ruth Huntley Bahr, Elaine R. Silliman, Virginia W. Berninger, and Michael Dow (2012),  Linguistic Pattern Analysis of Misspellings of Typically Developing Writers in Grades 1 to 9 published in the  J Speech Lang Hear Res. 10.1044/1092-4388(2012/10-0335)  provides guidance for interpreting the percentage of misspelled words in children's writing samples. The article's abstract is below, followed by a chart of the percentage of spelling errors revealed in this research.

 

Procedures:  Two genre prompts were administered to the 888 children (~100 Ss per grade level), a narrative and an expository writing sample, because multiple composing tasks increase reliability (Olinghouse & Santangelo, 2011; Verheyden, Van den Branden, Rijlaarsdam, van den Berg, & De Maeyer, in press). The narrative writing sample was identical for all grade levels, and began with the prompt “One day _____ had the best or worst day at school. The expository writing sample prompt was also identical for all grade levels, and began with the sentence “I like ____ because ____.” Both prompts solicited topics that were familiar to students irrespective of their ethnic and socioeconomic status (SES). Research (McCutchen, 1986; McCutchen, Francis, & Kerr, 1997) shows that children write more on topics when they have background knowledge. All compositions were marked after 5-minutes by the examiner or the older students. Only spelling errors before the 5-minute limit were analyzed at all grade levels. At the beginning of the session, each participant was instructed that they could make revisions at any time by crossing out and rewriting (Berninger et al., 1992, 1994, 1996).

 

Grade

% Spelling Errors

1

23%

2

17%

3

14%

4

9%

5

3%

6

2%

7

3%

8

2%

9

2%

 

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