Only one of my children is a natural speller; the others had to work really hard at spelling. I could clearly see their lack of spelling skills in their daily work; I didn’t need a standardized test to tell me that. We worked our way through all sorts of programs, but their scores on the spelling portion of the standardized tests never improved. However, when I considered my academic goals for them and looked at what the test was actually testing, I decided I did not have to fix anything. Besides, the high school tests (the ACT and SAT families of tests) don’t have questions on spelling.
In analyzing the test questions for the spelling portion, I realized the test was really measuring the student’s ability to do editing work rather than spelling; students are asked to find the words that are incorrectly spelled. So in response to this discovery, I changed the way I corrected their dictation assignments: instead of telling them which words they got wrong, I put a number on the LINE where there were errors so they knew how many errors to find and correct. This turned the dictation assignment into an editing exercise. And honestly, I saw no improvement on their test scores, but I realized this method enhanced my own goals for their spelling: the ability to write with fewer spelling errors.