Effect of phoneme awareness training on kindergarten and first-grade children's invented spelling

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Benita A. Blackman

Second Advisor

Katharine G. Butler


Phoneme awareness, Spelling, Elementary education, Literacy, Language arts

Subject Categories



Purpose. The purpose of this study was to determine if children trained in phoneme awareness in kindergarten and first grade would differ in invented spelling and standard spelling from children who did not have this training. First, a reliable scoring system had to be created to evaluate the invented spelling of kindergarten and first grade children. The scoring system was then used to compare the invented spelling of treatment and control children.

Procedure. Eighty-seven treatment and 78 control children were selected from the total population (N = 393) of 18, all-day kindergarten classrooms in four, demographically comparable inner-city schools. Pretests included measures of vocabulary, phoneme segmentation, letter names and letter sound knowledge, and reading. There were no significant pretreatment differences between groups.

Students in the phoneme intervention group received 11 weeks of phoneme awareness training. Children in the control group followed the school district's regular kindergarten program. The kindergarten program for the treatment children was followed in first grade by reading program that continued to emphasize phoneme awareness. Children in the control group followed the traditional basal reading program used in the district.

At the end of kindergarten, posttest measures of segmentation, letter names and sounds, beginning word recognition, and a 5-word developmental spelling test were administered. In February of first grade, a 6-word version of the developmental spelling test was administered. At the end of first grade, the phoneme segmentation test was administered, as well as measures of letter names and sounds, measures of reading, a 10-word version of the developmental spelling test, and the spelling subtest of the WRAT-R.

Results. The results indicate that: Treatment children significantly outperformed control children in both reading and invented spelling at the end of kindergarten and in first grade. At the end of first grade, treatment children also significantly outperformed control children on the WRAT-R spelling subtest using either the standard scoring system for the WRAT-R, or a modified scoring system created for this study.

The three versions of the developmental spelling test (DST) were found to be highly reliable using both correlation and percent of agreement to calculate reliability.


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