Children’s spellings are often scored as correct or incorrect, but other measures may be better predictors of later spelling performance.
We examined seven measures of spelling in Reception Year and Year 1 (5–6 years old) as predictors of performance on a standardized spelling test in Year 2 (age 7).
Correctness was the best predictor of later spelling by the middle of Year 1, and it significantly outperformed a binary measure of phonological plausibility at the end of Reception Year. Nonbinary measures based on Levenshtein distance were significant predictors of later spelling in the middle of Reception Year and in children who produced no correct spellings. Some widely used scales performed less well with children who did not yet produce any correct spellings.
Nonbinary measures of spelling performance can predict later spelling performance, but for a more restricted period than anticipated based on many theories.