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Worried about new school policy of more no spelling tests !

(26 Posts)
Millie13 Thu 21-Feb-13 16:35:57

My school has recently decided to stop spelling tests altogether which is of great concern to me. How are children therefore going to learn the skill of accurate spelling? There is no other way of monitoring spelling that i know of. Apparently children do well in tests but can't write spelling words correctly in a sentence, which is why tests are being banned. Why can't tests incorporating the spelling word in a sentence be adopted instead?
Our school insists children will pick it up through reading. I agree this may be the case with some children but others are still struggling with reading. How is this approach going to help them ? Surely spelling standards will slip! I am a very supportive parent but I feel that the school is just shooting itself in the foot here, the consequences of which will be evident in the quality of children's writing in years to come.
When I queried the head teacher, her response was that generally all the pupils know the high frequency words which is enough, as these days with technology, spell checkers do it for you. Am I too old fashioned to expect my children to spell as many words as they can accurately without the use of a spellchecker?

grinnbareit Thu 28-Feb-13 22:38:07

Hi my Ds doesn't have spelling tests at his school, they tend to send home lists of words (with a spelling pattern) to copy and then when they are tested they use sentences with the words included. Now he is retaining the spellings but when given the test he is failing miserably, now he has been sent home with the same words? please can someone help me to get my pea sized brain around this confused! if the test is to help the child to retain the spelling pattern to aid them with the spellings, why not use different words using that pattern?

Littleturkish Tue 26-Feb-13 16:46:53

Grammar and spelling will soon have a 1/4 equal weighting with reading, writing and speaking. New KS3 and 4 guidelines.

I think spelling is important as it builds confidence, so many students feel that if they can't spell, they aren't good at English.

TiffIsKool Tue 26-Feb-13 15:48:10

I don't think spelling has much educational value same as the infamous poster making homework. But I value it because it creates a mind set. How often do we get threads from parents whose teenagers struggle to concentrate or time manage their school work?

It's a bit like soldiers and their spit and polish routine. Shiny boots don't make you a better soldier but that isn't logic behind the routine. Same with spellings and poster making homework.

Elibean Tue 26-Feb-13 15:32:51

Incidentally, a bit random but - if you have a DC who loathes learning their spellings, and an iPad, get Squeebles spellings. dd or I put dd's list of words in every Monday (in sentences, so she is clear about meanings) and she hasn't complained since grin

Elibean Tue 26-Feb-13 15:31:22

I like PSBD's word work too - we get some of that sent home with spellings smile

Elibean Tue 26-Feb-13 15:29:51

I did read somewhere that spelling tests are a waste of time, and its true that dd1 - who gets top marks in spelling tests every single week - is a horrendous speller when not being tested, so I guess the research has a point.

But if they are taking tests away, you are still entitled to ask the school how they are going to teach spelling - what are they going to do instead of ordinary spelling tests to ensure standards don't slip. I would.

Personally, I think reading is the best way to learn to spell - although a visual memory helps hugely. My sister (MA Oxbridge) cannot spell even now - whereas I always could: we have different sorts of memories.

TiffIsKool Tue 26-Feb-13 15:01:44

My school doesn't have homework. That pisses me off. If they do away with spellings then the dumbing down process is complete.

Rant over. Its something you as a parent can do. Go through DC's reading book and make a list of words which you think will challenge DC. Spend 5min in car during school run going over them with DC. Job done.

derektheladyhamster Tue 26-Feb-13 13:59:59

My eldest could spell all the words in the hardest group without trying, my youngest struggles with the spellings in the easiest group. Spelling tests like these have not helped either of my children.

I'm very pleased with the 'apples and pears' way of teaching spellings.

posadas Tue 26-Feb-13 13:55:03

Pastsellby (great name!) -- the exercises you mention are very interesting. some of them sound fun enough to do as games on holiday trips.

Re "old fashioned" spelling tests: I have no idea whether they help improve spelling or not (my instinct and observation is that they help at least a bit). What I like about them is that they encourage a very simple but useful discipline. There is a concrete and finite amount to learn (ie how to spell X words) that can be accomplished with a varying amount of effort, depending on the words. if my children put forth the effort, they learn the words and have the satisfaction of a good score on a test. If they don't put forth the effort, they're unlikely to get a good score. They are as likely to remember the spelling words as they are to remember any other concept they study, especially if they continue to use the words in writing. In the early years of school, there are few subjects that require discipline to study and learn and remember -- spelling is one of them and the practice of spelling tests can, I think, lay a foundation of discipline which can be applied later to other subjects.

PastSellByDate Tue 26-Feb-13 13:42:36

Hi Millie13

Our school is reducing spelling tests and is piecemeal going over to word exploration work (for which you should read some teachers are and others are not).

I quite like this word exploration lark and have enjoyed it:

We've had find me 10 Viking words.

A homework where -ough was the ending and children were asked to find more words rhyming with dough (long Oh sound), rough ('uff' sound) or through ('ooo' sound).

We've had homeworks where words are given and children look up definitions and when the word was first used in English.

We've had make word games - make up as many compound words using the word 'time' as you can. Or the word 'sun' or the word 'day'.

Work with prefixes and suffixes (think of as many words as you can starting with micro- or ending with -ion).

We have had work with when to double letters if adding -ed or -ing endings.

We've also had games where they have word searches or cross words.

Some classes regularly give this kind of thing out and others don't. My hope (and it may be more a wild dream) is that the school will eventually wholeheartedly support this kind of thing and all classes will regularly give out this word play work, as I think it really helps and DDs both find this much more fun (they like the variety and the challenge).

Because one DD1 currently gets next to nothing we found this lovely spelling website with on-line quizzes from St Ambrose Primary here: for Y3 - Y6, which helps us keep things going. Ambleside Primary also has some links to spelling games here:


everlong Tue 26-Feb-13 13:41:08

Ime with ds year 2 the weekly spelling test definitely has help in to carry on spelling the word correctly. He is now writing his own stories and will use these words from his test because he knows them.

We get the list on a Friday and the test is Monday which means a weekend of lots of drama trying to learn the words though. That's the downside.

Startail Tue 26-Feb-13 12:46:16

Bliss, DD1 is dyslexic and firmly in the learn words every night and scrap through with 7/10 camp. Then spell the words wrong in free writing.

DD2 was born with a dictionary in her head. She'll go quiet for a moment as she consults it, then write a word she's never learnt correctly.

Spelling tests are a total waste of time for both of them.

DD1 needs to get simple words right and practice and repractice her phonics and spelling patterns.

DD2 needs to slow down when writing complex stuff and remove errors of spelling and meaning from the top edge of her vocabulary. She does over reach her ability eventually.

sunnyday123 Tue 26-Feb-13 12:31:35

Dds school doesn't do spelling tests either. They concentrate on the sounds I.e how the sound is spelt and work in class is corrected. Dd in year 2 and knows all the y2 spelling list so it must be working.

FiveGoMadInDorset Sun 24-Feb-13 19:13:02

DC's school don't do spelling tests, hasn't affected DD's ability to spell accurately, DS only 4.

OutInAllWeathers Sun 24-Feb-13 19:11:15

My DC school insist on spelling tests starting in year 1. I agree with those who find that it doesn't actually improve spellings in written work as this is something I had noticed. Ds2 (year3) teacher makes them say out their score to the class hmm

Littleturkish Thu 21-Feb-13 18:58:56

Yup, you're right mrz

It could be done with audio clues...but how that would work with a whole class difficult.

mrz Thu 21-Feb-13 18:13:30

It's quite hard in primary to show commonly misspelt words through pictures too ...was said went come ...

Littleturkish Thu 21-Feb-13 18:10:02

I would love a solution to this.

Perhaps spelling lists and then a writing exercise where the words are used? Students highlight where they have used the words and then they are tested? Given visual clues to remind them of what the words are?

I used to do vocabulary tests like this- but it was a nightmare to mark.

Would love to hear of solutions.

I make spelling lists out of a list of words that are frequently spelt wrong in their books or that are linked to the topic we're studying. At secondary it is even harder, IMO, as the words are frequently ones that are not easily shown through pictures...

redskyatnight Thu 21-Feb-13 18:03:17

Spelling tests complete waste of time IMO. DS either gets words that are way too hard (so he gets demoralised because he can't learn them) or ones that are way too easy (so he knows already). DD gets 10/10 on her spelling test week in week out but is till unable to spell most of the words. Would be very happy to see them gone!

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 21-Feb-13 17:35:37

DD's school did away with spelling tests over 3 years ago. Once per week they concentrate on a particular sound set with the aim being to be able spell an unknown word with that sound in it. Spellings are corrected in work and they have a list of spellings that the individual is working on.
Prior to this DD was getting full marks in spelling tests, but her spelling in writing was not improving. With the new system speed of improvement of spelling is much greater as she doesn't individual words, but general rules .

missmapp Thu 21-Feb-13 17:09:27

My school made this decision a while back, we teach spelling 3 times a week, going through patterns and phonics work- in our latest spelling assessment ( taking the spelling age of each child) there has been accelerated progress almost universally.

we did give parents the lists of words/patterns we were focusing on every term, as some parents still wanted to do tests at home- maybe you could ask your school for the same.

mrz Thu 21-Feb-13 17:04:54

Hopefully the school are going to teach them to spell not just cross their fingers and hope they pick it up from reading

Millie13 Thu 21-Feb-13 16:47:30

That still does not answer mrz how are they going to learn to spell?

mrz Thu 21-Feb-13 16:40:02

All the research shows that learning lists of words for tests is ineffectual. Many children score 10/10 in the test and continue to misspell the same words in their independent writing

Millie13 Thu 21-Feb-13 16:39:27

Sorry everyone, big mistake on my title. It should read no more spelling tests!

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