Reading decoding is the key to recognizing known words, then using that knowledge of familiar letters and sounds to quickly determine what new words say, when seeing them for the first time. It is an important indicator for diagnosing dyslexia, as people with dyslexia have difficulty splitting words up into manageable sections to then correctly sound out.

There are multiple standardized and non-standardized tests and subtests to measure different aspects of a student’s reading decoding ability. Examples of standardized tests are below:

Subtests that examine reading decodingTest that measures this skillType of testAge group the test is for
Word Reading – letter and letter-sound knowledge and single word reading for regular and irregular words.  The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, 4th Edition (WIAT-4)StandardizedPK-12+
Pseudoword Decoding – phonic decoding skills  
Letter Word Recognition – identify letters and pronounce wordsThe Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement, Third Edition (KTEA-3)Standardized4-25
Nonsense Word Decoding – read nonsense words  
Letter-Word Identification – read words of increasing difficulty in isolation by identifying individual letters in bold type.  The Woodcock Johnson Test of Achievement, 4th Edition (WJ-IV)Standardized2-90+
Word Attack – apply phonic skills to unfamiliar words.  

Reporting test results to parents and caregivers

Like all parent communication, the reading decoding test results need to be shared in a way that is accessible for parents or caregivers to understand easily. Here are some suggestions for what kinds of information to share when sharing information with parents:

  • Draw comparisons with what is the standard average ability for their age group to explain that this indicates a possible area of weakness.
  • Share examples of words they could and couldn’t read accurately.
  • Feedback on any decoding strategies you observed the student using, to identify what is working well and which areas need further development.
  • Review any previous history of interventions and how relevant this is to the test scores.
  • Clearly outline what the next steps are (for example, practicing specific sound patterns that are causing difficulty, dyslexia testing, or conducting other tests).
  • Highlight any action points it would be helpful for the parents to take.

Click here to access more information about reading decoding. 

Whether you or your special education teacher administer the test, the more we know about the academic areas, the stronger our assessments and reports can be!