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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Monitoring and assessment

Information on monitoring and assessing children's literacy knowledge to ensure that teaching is responsive to their needs.

Understanding what children know and can do

When children first start school it is important to find out what they already know. This will help you pinpoint where to start a child along the scope and sequence framework for the Ready to Read Phonics Plus books. 

The Alphabet Test, GKR Phonemic Awareness Test, and Bryant Test will identify what children know and any gaps they may have in their letter-sound knowledge. The assessment process map below provides guidance for using these tests and gives an entry point along the scope and sequence framework. 

Assessment process map

Assessment Process Map.

The assessment process map sets out the assessment activities you can you use to find out what children know and where they should start on the Phonics Plus books. It also supports you to use 10 week check-ins to monitor the progress of students as they move through the stages and onto Colour Wheel texts.

You may find that some children may need to continue to develop their phonological awareness before they use the Phonics Plus books.

Alphabet Test

The Alphabet test measures children’s recognition of letters and their ability to provide the sounds they make.

Give the child a copy of the alphabet test and say:

  • “Look at these letters of the alphabet."
  • "Can you put your finger on the first letter at the top of the page?"
  • "What is its name?"
  • "What sound does it make?” 

Move to the next letter and repeat. Be sure that the letters are read left to right across the page. Do the upper case first because these tend to be easier for children. 

Scoring of the alphabet test
Use the score sheet to record the child's responses and to note the letters that the child is confused about.

  • For names of letters, accept only the correct names. For example, C is cee. 
  • For sounds, accept the most common sound. For example, for C it is /k/ and for G it is /g/. If the sound is not known, then you could also ask, "Can you tell me a word that starts with this sound?" For example, "go" for the letter G. Either is correct. If the child gives a word that begins with the sound, be sure to record the word.
  • Put a tick in the scoring column if correct, and if incorrect, be sure to record the error.
  • Score out of 26 for names and 26 for sounds.


GKR Phonemic Awareness Test

The GKR Phonemic Awareness Test measures a child’s ability to identify, blend, and manipulate the sounds of speech. This test is a version of the Gough Kastler Roper test. 

This version of the test uses only the first sub-test from the whole tool. The first sub-test requires the child to say each phoneme separately, for example, c-a-t, and then tell you what the word is (cat).

  • Use the first sub-test to read the test and record responses. Remember, this is not a reading test. The child will not see the words in the test, you will read the questions out loud.
  • Start with the practice example. If the child has difficulty with the practice item, give the correct answer.
  • When you start the real test items, do not give any more explanation. Just give supportive comments like:  “That’s good”, “OK, let’s try another one”. Only give corrective feedback for the practice items. 


Adapted Bryant Test

The Adapted Bryant Test assesses a child’s knowledge of letter-sound relationships by asking the child to read up to 50 pseudowords (non-words). 

Explain that these are not real words. They are alien words spoken by children from another planet. They speak a different language to us.

Encourage the child to sound out the words if they can, but to make a real word. Do not just say the sounds of the letters.

If the child finds it too difficult and makes more than 10 consecutive errors, pause the assessment. However, if they are happy to keep reading, they can do so. It might give you an idea of how they approach decoding the words. If you do stop, ask the child to look at the rest of the words and read out any that can be decoded. 

Score the word as correct if the child pronounces the made-up words as shown in the pronunciation guide provided.

Write down the error if the child makes a mistake (for example, reads “buf” as “but”). Then score out of 50.

The scoring diagnostic guide provided outlines the phonics subskills covered in each group of questions. It will assist you identify the letter-sound relationships the child still needs to learn.


Reading alien words

Sounding out unknown words with Professor Tom Nicholson.


Using flexible Phonics Plus reading groups 

When using the scope and sequence framework to support early reading, it is vital that teaching responds to children’s learning needs. Grouping of children needs to be flexible. Children’s progress should be reviewed on a weekly basis to ensure they continue to learn new sounds and apply what they already know. Your day-to-day observations and conversations with learners will inform the decisions you make about your reading groups. 

Updated on: 22 Nov 2021