What is the San Diego Quick Assessment?

The new Lexercise Screener combines two separate assessments to pinpoint a child’s ability to read words. One of them is the San Diego Quick Assessment (SDQA); the other is the Z Screener. In this post, I’d like to provide a little background on SDQA.

There are many factors that contribute to how well a child comprehends and applies what he or she reads. While no single “test” can adequately capture that whole, complex picture, the San Diego Quick Assessment is one test that has stood up to examination by numerous researchers.

Originally devised by Margaret La Pray and Ramon Ross and published in the Journal of Reading in 1969, SDQA is a list of words categorized by grade level. The words were drawn at random from the glossaries of basic readers and from the 1931 Teacher’s Word Book of 20,000 Words by E. L. Thorndike.

In their 1969 article, “The Graded Word List: Quick Gauge of Reading Ability,” La Pray and Ross explain, “The graded word list has two uses: 1) to determine a reading level; 2) to detect errors in word analysis. One can use the test information to group students for corrective practice or to select appropriate reading materials for those students. The list is remarkably accurate when used for these purposes.”

Over time, that evaluation has proved true. Research has confirmed that the SDQA provides a fairly accurate estimate of a child’s ability to read grade-level material. In their 2003 book, Assessment for Reading Instruction, Michael C. McKenna and Steven A. Stahl say: “One of the most popular graded word lists in the public domain is the San Diego Quick Assessment (SDQA).” The authors also note that observing how a child reads individual words from a structured word list can be a useful “shortcut” for estimating the child’s overall proficiency as a reader, but they caution that it is not a substitute for a comprehensive evaluation.

In addition, one of the unique and useful features of the SDQA is that it indicates how well the child is reading words at each grade level (for example: independent, instructional or frustration level) and thus it can help guide selection of material for reading practice. SDQA confirms that reading is not “all or none.”

The SDQA is good for its intended purpose: as a first-step screening procedure. It is not a substitute for a comprehensive reading assessment, which should be done by a qualified professional. While the SDQA can raise a “red flag” and it may hint at what is causing the child’s difficulty, it cannot fully explain what is causing the child’s reading problems.

With its combination of the extensively-researched results of the SDQA with the results of the Z Screener (a test made up of simple nonsense syllables), The Lexercise Screener is a powerful and tested online tool that allows the parent, teacher and/or pediatrician to determine if the child needs a comprehensive evaluation. It’s convenient, fast and free.

Click to try The Lexercise Screener now. If you would like a referral to a qualified professional or if you have questions about dyslexia or language-learning disorders, give us a call at 1-919-747-4557 or e-mail info@lexercise.com.

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Sandie Barrie Blackley, MA/CCC

MA/CCC - Cofounder and CKO

Sandie is a speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of experience in the private practice sector. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at University of North Carolina Greensboro, and founder/owner of the Language & Learning Clinic, PLLC, a private practice in Elkin, NC, and Greensboro, NC, specializing in communication disorders, including disorders of reading and written language.