Standardized assessment of phonological awareness skills in low-income African American first graders


Accurate identification of students with poor phonological awareness skills is important to providing appropriate reading instruction. This is particularly true for segments of the population, such as African American students, who have a history of reading failure. The purpose of this study was to examine the performance of a group of African American first-grade students from low-income families on a standardized test of phonological awareness. Fifty-six African American first graders were given the Test of Phonological Awareness (TOPA; J. K. Torgesen & B. R. Bryant, 1994). Mean student performance on the TOPA was significantly below expected norms and negatively skewed. However, students' mean performance on a test of basic reading skills indicated performance within normal limits. Outcomes are discussed relative to the validity and predictive power of standardized phonological assessment instruments, in this case, the TOPA, for use with African American students and the possible influence of dialect on performance.

Document Type





African American, Assessment, First grade, Phonological awareness, Reading

Publication Date


Journal Title

American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology