Die opstel en standaardisering van lees- en speltoetse vir primêreskoolleerlinge
Esterhuyse, Karel George Frederik
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Essentially, language maybe divided into two primary systems, namely spoken or auditory language and secondly visual or written language. Each of these systems comprises of a receptive and an expressive component. Listening and speech respectively represent the receptive and expressive components of the auditory language form, while reading and writing represent the corresponding components of the visual language form. The study focused upon the latter two language skills, namely reading and more specifically spelling. The ability to read is imperative for effective scholastic functioning. During the reading process, the written symbol is associated with the specific sound of the word and its associated meaning. Reading is therefore an integrated process of decoding (word recognition) and understanding/comprehending symbols. Reading comprehension is entirely dependent upon the recognition of the words and the ability to place them in context. However, it is important to note that reading comprehension is not necessarily the result of word recognition. Word recognition results from a direct (visual) as well as an indirect (phonological) process. This emphasizes the importance of both the visual and the auditory modalities in the acquisition of reading skills. The symbol to be read must clearly be distinguished from other visual symbols and be associated with the appropriate auditory symbol which was previously learnt and stored in the memory. A large proportion of learning problems may be prevented by effective reading. Written language results from the spoken word and is the ultimate language skill mastered by man. The focus of this study pertains to spelling skills as one of three areas of written language. The ability to spell correctly, heavily relies on a person’s ability to sequence the letters in a word, to ‘name’ the letters, to recognize the sounds represented by the letters as well as all the exceptions which may occur. This would inter alia require the optimal development of auditory and visual perceptual, haptic and motoric skills as well as the integration of these skills. Due to the close relationship between reading and spelling skills, the teaching methodology employed during the initial reading phase and the child’s level of language development play an important role. In accordance with the aim of this study, the ESSI reading and spelling tests were compiled. These tests may be used to determine the reading (word recognition) and spelling abilities of primary school pupils. During the construction of these tests, care was taken to ensure that certain criteria were met, the most important referring to the measurement of the attribute. This implies that the measurement must be objective and standardized. To ensure objectivity, item analyses were performed by utilizing the item response theory. This prevented the item statistics from being sample dependent. During the standardization process, separate term norms were calculated for the word lists (reading and spelling) of each grade. These norms are available as both stanine scales and percentile ranks. To heighten the utility value of these tests, sifting tests were compiled. These tests consist of 35 spelling and reading words in both English and Afrikaans which may be used to quickly and effectively determine the appropriate grade level at which a specific pupil must be tested with respect to the final tests. In addition to this, the tests also possess qualitative analysis value which may be successfully utilized in practice to determine specific reading and/or spelling errors to facilitate the remedial process. The ESSI reading and spelling tests are reliable and valid measuring instruments. The tests successfully predict the pupils’ achievements at the end of the year in the various academic subjects. The spelling and reading skills of pupils displaying inadequate academic progress may thus be tested to determine whether their inability to read or spell effectively does not underlie this poor progress.