An analysis of the spelling errors of children who differ in their reading and spelling skills

Maggie Bruck, Gloria Waters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Results of recent studies comparing the spelling errors of children with varying discrepancies between their reading and spelling skills have yielded conflicting results. Some studies suggest that good readers-poor spellers (mixed) are characterized by a set of deficits that differentiates them from poor readers-poor spellers (poor). Other studies fail to find differences between groups of poor spellers who differ in their reading skills. The present study attempted to determine the degree to which these discrepant results reflected differences in methods of subject selection and of error analysis. Two different sets of criteria were used to identify poor spellers-good readers. Subjects were selected on the basis of standardized reading comprehension and spelling test scores or on the basis of standardized single-word-recognition and spelling-test scores. The phonetic accuracy of the spelling errors was assessed using two different scoring systems – one that took positional constraints into account and one that did not. In addition, children were identified at two different age levels, allowing for developmental comparisons. Regardless of age or reading ability, poor and mixed spellers had difficulty converting sounds into positionally appropriate graphemes. Only older children with good word recognition but poor spelling skills provided some evidence for a distinct subgroup of poor spellers. These children had relatively good visual memory for words and, unlike other poor spellers, showed relatively good use of rudimentary sound-letter correspondences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-92
Number of pages16
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Psychology(all)
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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