Single word reading

This is a test of word recognition out-of-context, i.e. reading accuracy. Single word reading is the only subtest in LASS 8–11 for which scores are not distributed in a normal curve. In fact, there is a significant negative skew, indicating that most students will achieve a maximum or near- maximum performance (in statistical terms this is sometimes referred to as a ‘ceiling effect’). Single word reading does not have sufficient sensitivity to discriminate amongst students within the average range, and so its use should be confined to students who are significantly behind in reading development, either to determine their attainment level or evaluate progress.

Hence there is generally little point in administering Single word reading unless the teacher suspects that the student is a poor reader, because:

  • the student has scored below the threshold of concern (less than an SAS of 85) on Sentence reading; or
  • a significant discrepancy between the score for Sentence reading and the scores on the reasoning subtests has already been detected; or
  • there is other evidence to suggest deficient reading skills.

In such cases, the purpose of administering this subtest is to ascertain whether there is a serious deficiency in word recognition as well as reading comprehension (the latter being judged on the basis of the student’s performance on Sentence reading or some other reading comprehension test). Where Single word reading is administered, teachers should be aware that results may not correspond to those obtained from an oral single-word recognition test in which the student has to pronounce the words in the test. This is obviously a rather different (and considerably harder) task than that of identifying the target word on hearing the word spoken in the subtest, as in LASS 8–11. Where the teacher is in doubt, it would be prudent to check the student’s oral word recognition skills using a suitable test.