I use the Bear Spelling Assessment (which is included in the Words Their Way Series). Click here and go to page 2 of the document to find a hard copy of the assessment you can print and use. The results of this assessment give you a specific breakdown of different spelling skills and how your student did on each. These different spelling skills are listed sequentially in the order that skills should be acquired before moving on to the next skill. These areas consist of initial/final consonants, followed by short vowels, digraphs (sh, ch, th), blends (st, sl, dr, bl, fr, cr), long vowel patterns, other irregular vowel patterns, and ending with inflected endings (ed, ed, ies, pping).
We do this assessment 2-3 times a year (once in the fall, winter, and spring). It is presented in the normal format of a spelling test. The teacher reads the words out loud (26 words total) and students write the words down on their papers. The tricky, but awesome, part comes when you are grading the tests. As I said before, the test is divided into different spelling skills. So when you grade the test, you are looking to see if the student has mastered each specific skill. So, for the word "pet," a student could write "poafgt" and still get 2/3 points for the word (p is the initial consonant and t is the end consonant). They would only miss one point for an incorrect short vowel. So, if this is a consistent pattern that emerges for one of your spellers, you know they have initial and final consonants down, and now is time to move on to teaching short vowels.
When filling out the assessment, I put check marks next to things done correct and circle the points missed. From the picture below (which may be hard to read), you can see the first word is "fan." This student spelled the word correct and therefore got a point for the "f" "a" and "n."
This may be even harder to see (SORRY!), but for word number 19 (which was "shouted"), my student spelled it "shoudid."
For this word, he got points for "sh" (digraph) but no points for the "ed" (inflected ending).
This student's results showed 7/7 points or 100% in the first three areas (initial, final consonants, and short vowels). Then, for digraphs, he scored 3/7. Although this student scored 7/7 in blends, I would go back to digraphs and work on those with the student first before going onto long vowels, etc.
If you add up all the point possible for the entire test, there are 56 possible points. Besides analyzing each students test to determine what they should work on, I also keep a graph of my class' scores over the course of the year to monitor overall progress. Here is the graph from last year. And this is why I LOVE data! Each students' score improved every time the assessment was given!
Now that I have exhausted myself and probably you on the nuts and bolts of this spelling assessment, tomorrow I will show you a fun activity kids can do to work on a targeted spelling area.