Phonological awareness is the understanding that our spoken language is made up of words and that our words are made up of individual units of sounds called phonemes. Phonological awareness encompasses many skills such as word recognition, rhyming, syllables, and phonemic awareness.

Phonological awareness is a critical skill and a strong predictor of future reading success. It is an area of essential skill development that deserves our full attention. This process should be taught and assessed early in a child’s life. To better understand the importance of this skill, in Equipped for Reading Success Dr. David Kilpatrick looks to the overarching goal of reading: comprehension.

While phonological awareness skills are addressed, assessment data should be continuously monitored to effectively inform instruction, track progress, differentiate lessons, and identify students who may be at risk for future reading challenges.

Today, states like Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Delaware all provide phonological awareness testing for early readers to help more quickly assess and ultimately remediate children who struggle to recognize phonemes.

The Phonological Awareness Screening Test (PAST), adapted and revised by Dr. David Kilpatrick in 2018, can be used as a whole class screener or a component of a comprehensive, formal assessment. Information can be found in chapter 11 of Equipped for Reading Success on how to effectively use the test. It evaluates a child’s understanding of the syllable, onset-rime, and phoneme levels using skills that develop in sequence from kindergarten to second grade.

Although this tool can be a powerful screener in the prevention of future reading challenges, it can also be used to identify older students who failed to develop these skills in earlier years. Regardless of age, the goal is for students to develop to the level of automaticity.

Be sure to check out the rest of our blog series on How to Teach Phonemic Awareness:


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