Kaydee Kent

Date of Graduation

Spring 2013


Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Committee Chair

Julie J. Masterson,


spelling, spelling development, spelling metric, spelling sensitivity scores, stage theory, repertoire theory, percent words correct

Subject Categories

Communication Sciences and Disorders


Spelling development has traditionally been viewed as occurring in stages, in which linguistic skills are mastered sequentially. An alternative approach is the repertoire theory, a multilinguistic perspective that accounts for various linguistic factors throughout development. Percent Words Correct (PWC) is a traditional spelling metric, but does not capture error types or word complexity. Spelling Sensitivity Scores (SSS) segment and score each word using a 4-point scale. The purpose of this study was to investigate a large collection of spelling samples representing children at various grade levels to examine trends in development and determine which metric is most sensitive to these trends. There were 1,010 samples from participants in Grades 1 through 6 for a total of 58,835 spellings of 599 different words. Results indicated that phonological awareness errors were made in upper grades, and morphological awareness was present in lower grades. The SSS, especially Total Element Points, was found to be the most representative of development. These findings support the repertoire theory, suggesting that multiple linguistic factors influence spelling development simultaneously. The findings are also important to teachers and researchers who need a method for measuring spelling accuracy.


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