Use of early word-reading fluency measures to predict outcomes on the Phonics Screening Check

Nicola Bell, Max Farrell-Whelan, Kevin Wheldall

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Teachers in England and South Australia annually administer the Phonics Screening Check (PSC) to Year 1 students, with the purpose of identifying struggling readers. Students who do not meet the score threshold have not met the expected standard of word-decoding ability, meaning further support may be warranted. We sought to quantify the extent to which other early reading measures, such as the Wheldall Assessment of Reading Nonwords (WARN) and Wheldall Assessment of Reading Lists (WARL), predicted students’ likelihood of not meeting PSC expected standards. Predicting PSC outcomes, and thereby identifying struggling readers at the start of Year 1, has important implications for possible intervention strategies. Logistic regression and receiver operating characteristic analyses were conducted to examine the longitudinal relationships between real-word and pseudoword predictors as measured by the WARL and WARN and PSC pass/fail outcomes. Students who scored lower on predictors were less likely to meet the PSC expected standards. Results indicate that the WARL and WARN could be used to identify students who will not meet PSC expected standards, facilitating earlier intervention where it is most critically required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161–176
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian Journal of Education
Issue number2
Early online date15 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • struggling readers
  • reading difficulties
  • literacy
  • phonics
  • screening tests
  • early intervention
  • Struggling readers


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