What is the San Diego Quick Assessment?

The Lexercise Dyslexia ScreenerTM combines two separate assessments to pinpoint a child’s ability to read words. One of them is the San Diego Quick Assessment (SDQA) or Grade-Level Reading Assessment; the other is our proprietary Dyslexia Z ScreenerTM. In this post, we will provide a little background on the Grade-Level Reading Assessment or SDQA.

What is the Grade-Level Reading Assessment?

The Grade-Level Reading Assessment (also known as the San Diego Quick Assessment or SDQA) is a foundational test designed to estimate a child’s reading grade level. 

As we explain later on, there are limitations and considerations to the Grade-Level Reading Assessment. For example, advancements in the science of reading have found better ways to profile reading skills than grade level. Additionally, Grade-Level Reading Assessment outcomes must be combined with other testing insights to provide a meaningful understanding of a child’s reading ability. However, Grade-Level Reading Assessment results are still a relevant factor to consider in assessing the likelihood that a child struggles with dyslexia or faces other reading challenges. 

San Diego Quick Assessment: History and Background

Many factors 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 Grade-Level Reading 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, The San Diego Quick Assessment is a list of words categorized by grade level. The words were drawn at random from the glossaries of basic readers and 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 San Diego Quick Assessment 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 San Diego Quick Assessment 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 the selection of material for reading practice. SDQA confirms that reading is not “all or none.”

San Diego Quick Assessment: Limitations and Considerations

The SDQA is good for its intended purpose: as a first-step screening procedure for reading grade level. However, it is not a substitute for a comprehensive dyslexia evaluation or reading assessment, which should be done by a qualified professional. Moreover, 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. These limitations can leave parents with more questions than answers. 

When it comes to reading difficulty, the first suspect is often a dyslexia diagnosis. So, after completing the San Diego Quick Assessment, many parents must restart their journey toward understanding back at square one as they research and complete dyslexia assessments. 

The Lexercise Dyslexia ScreenerTM Solution

With its combination of the extensively researched results of the SDQA with the results of the Dyslexia Z ScreenerTM (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 reading or dyslexia evaluation. It’s a convenient, fast, and free dyslexia test designed to provide more in-depth insights than the SDQA alone.

Click to try the Lexercise Dyslexia Screener now. If you have questions about dyslexia or language-learning disorders, we invite you to schedule a free consultation or contact us here online for more information. 

2 Responses to What is the San Diego Quick Assessment?

  • Chelsey Brewer commented

    I am interested in this screener as a tool to assess my dyslexic students on grade level passages.

    • Andrea Lacotte commented

      Thank you so much for reaching out! We will be reaching out via email to discuss this further.

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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.