Why use the EarlyBird Literacy Assessment, even at a young age?

As a Literacy Specialist and a parent of a child with a family history of dyslexia, I used the EarlyBird Literacy Screener & Assessment as a key data point about my daughter’s early literacy skills.

EarlyBird Literacy Screener & Assessment

Coming out of the pandemic, we sent our daughter to a play-based kindergarten to allow her to build social skills and confidence in a classroom setting, something she had missed out on for preschool. The downside of this decision was that the school we sent her to was not doing any kind of early academic testing and screening. But as someone who works in this space, the earlier I knew of any issues, the better. I could take action!

The EarlyBird Literacy Assessment gave me the information I needed to know if she was at risk for reading challenges in the future and allowed me to target specific skills to support her as we prepared for first grade. As parents, we have to work in partnership with our children’s schools and teachers. The EarlyBird Literacy Assessment is a tool to jumpstart conversations and help us advocate for our children’s needs.

What’s under the hood of this assessment?

When taking the EarlyBird Literacy Assessment, your child will be assessed on a variety of key indicators of early literacy skills. For example:

  1. Sound symbol correspondence – the understanding that our language is made up of sounds and that specific letters and groups of letters represent those sounds. This moves beyond just knowing the names of the letters of the alphabet and tests whether or not your child knows the most common sounds that the letters make. 
  2. Phonemic and phonological awareness – attends to the sounds of the English language. The EarlyBird Literacy Assessment will assess if your child can hear groups of sounds (for example rhyming words) and if they can discriminate the smallest units of sound in a word (for example the word bat is made up of three sounds, b-a-t). Without sound-symbol correspondence and the skills to hear the individual sounds in a word, students will struggle to “break the code” of reading.
  3. Oral language comprehension and naming speed – Both of these are predictors of a child’s future reading success. Oral language comprehension assesses vocabulary, word meaning, ability to follow multi-step directions, and comprehension of sentences. Naming speed refers to how quickly a child can name an object that is shown to them. This measures their retrieval speed from long-term memory and is predictive of how well they will be able to retrieve sounds and words from their memory as they learn to read.

How can you support your child’s experience?

Although there is little you need to do during the actual assessment, there are some things to be aware of to support your child during the experience. 

During the test, your child will go on a fun adventure with a toucan friend named Pip. While it will feel more like a video game, it is still important for you to set your child up to take the assessment in a quiet place and at a time when they won’t feel rushed. 

The adaptive assessment will adjust the difficulty level according to your child’s performance, so they may come across activities or questions that feel challenging. You should encourage your child if they get frustrated, but it is important not to help them with the answers. If they ask you for help, offer support by saying, “I can’t help you. Just try your best and it’s ok if you don’t know the answer.”

What happens after the assessment is over?

After your child has completed the Literacy Assessment, you will receive a parent report with their scores within 3 days. The report is easy to read and every section is explained in detail. It will highlight your child’s strengths and weaknesses in early literacy skills. The skills will be broken down into the categories mentioned above, with additional sub-skills explained in detail. 

EarlyBird results are presented in normed percentiles, with numbers between the 1st percentile and the 99th percentile. The 50th percentile is average. If your child scores in the 70th percentile on a skill, they have performed better than 70% of the other children in the normed group. 

The assessment report will also flag whether or not the scores indicate that your child is at risk for dyslexia

After the scores are presented, your Literacy Specialist will provide notes on how your child scored. Your Literacy Specialist will go over these notes with you during your post-assessment conference. Come prepared with any questions you have about the subtests and skills. If there are any skills that you are unclear on, your Literacy Specialist can walk you through some examples. Understanding what the report says about your child as a reader will help you make instructional decisions and advocate for the support they need.

What do I do with this information about my child’s reading skills? 

Once you have your child’s assessment results and you have met with the Literacy Specialist, make sure you take the time to share the results with your child’s teachers. While schools collect data for their students, the EarlyBird assessment can help to confirm or add information to what they have collected. 

Questions to ask your child’s teacher include:

  • Do any of these results surprise you or are they in line with what you see in the classroom?
  • How do these assessment results compare to assessments you have done in school? 
  • What approach is the school using to teach reading and what specific skills are included in the instruction?
  • How do the EarlyBird instructional recommendations fit in with what you are already doing in the classroom?
  • How do you suggest I support my child at home?
  • If your child has been flagged as at risk for dyslexia by the EarlyBird assessment: What supports and further testing are available at school for my child now that we know they are at risk for dyslexia and reading challenges? How will their progress be monitored at school and what interventions are available?

In addition to suggestions from your school, your EarlyBird Literacy Specialist will provide you with resources to support your child’s early reading skills. They will also let you know if your child is a fit for EarlyBird’s reading intervention program. This includes a dedicated Literacy Specialist and daily use of an instructional app called Pip School. 

Keep in mind a few more things the assessment can help with: 

  • Having your child assessed three times a school year can help you see their progress. This gives valuable information about how well they are growing in their literacy skills. 
  • The combined scores can help identify solid patterns of strength and weakness. Your EarlyBird Literacy Specialist will help you interpret the results and recognize growth patterns. Early identification and intervention for children with dyslexia are key components to supporting their reading journey. 
  • The EarlyBird assessment and the interpretation of results by a qualified Literacy Specialist will give you the information you need to advocate for your child to ensure they get the support they need.
Kendra Totman Padilla
Guest Author
Kendra Totman Padilla is a Reading Specialist and former third-grade teacher. She currently works as a virtual intervention specialist and instructional coach, primarily serving students with dyslexia. She is passionate about supporting families as they seek literacy intervention for their children. You can learn more about Kendra and connect with her on LinkedIn.

Get your child started on their reading journey with EarlyBird at Home