Just Words® is a highly explicit program for students in grades 4–12 and adults who have mild to moderate gaps in their decoding and spelling proficiency, but who do not have a significant language learning disability such as dyslexia. The targeted, high–quality literacy instruction provided in a Just Words classroom can help struggling students build the word-level skills they need to achieve at higher academic levels across the curriculum.
Proper student placement and grouping is critical to the success of every Just Words class. Groups should be:
- homogeneous based on similar scores on word identification and spelling measures (total reading scores and comprehension scores alone are not used for Just Words class placement);
- of similar (but not necessarily exact) age, grade, and cognitive ability; and
- no larger than fifteen students.
To accomplish this, it is recommended that teachers pretest students in the spring semester prior to the start of instruction, when possible. This allows time to properly set up Just Words classes while reducing the risk of inappropriate grouping due to scheduling issues.
Initial Screening of Students
Screening should be conducted with all at-risk students who have district reading scores or standardized reading scores below the 50th percentile. Also, consider students’ class performance and other underlying factors as appropriate.
The following screening measures are examples of assessments which can be administered to large groups of students to provide information about word reading fluency and spelling.
- Test of Silent Word Reading Fluency-2 (TOSWRF-2)
- Spelling subtests from the Word Identification and Spelling Test (WIST)
Students scoring between the 16th and 50th percentiles* in either the TOSWRF-2 or WIST Spelling subtest should be considered for further assessment to determine the appropriateness of placement in a Just Words class.
Please note: Students scoring at or below the 15th percentile during the screening process should be further evaluated for placement in an intensive reading intervention, such as the Wilson Reading System.
Administration of Individual Assessments
Based on results of the quick screening measures, some students will be identified as needing a more detailed diagnostic assessment to confirm areas of deficit and obtain percentile scores so that teachers can create appropriate groupings. The WIST Word Identification and Sound-Symbol Knowledge subtests can be administered to determine a student’s Fundamental Literacy Ability Index.
Students with a Fundamental Literacy Ability Index score between the 16th and 50th percentiles are likely to be selected as Just Words students. However, some students who fall into this range, particularly those students who have scores between the 16th and 30th percentiles, may be candidates for a more intensive reading intervention if testing indicates dyslexia or other deficits requiring individual or small-group instruction with a program such as the Wilson Reading System. Click on the following links for more information about Wilson Reading System Student Profile and Identification.
- Students scoring at or below the 15th percentile should be further assessed for placement in the Wilson Reading System® (WRS) (See the WRS Student Profile page and the WRS Student Identification page).
Class Placement/Grouping Students
To ensure a successful response to instruction, assign students to groups/classes using the WIST Fundamental Literacy Ability Index Percentile rank:
- Group A: 16-30%
- Group B: 31-50%
For students scoring between the 25 and 35th percentiles, use the Sound-Symbol Knowledge subtest and other information to help group them appropriately.
Lastly, assign students to a class using the fillable Just Words Class Roster on the Intervention Learning Community for Just Words (ILC). The roster can be used to track standard and percentile scores for TOSWRF-2 and WIST pretests and posttests.
Note: Although we provide guidelines on student placement in each Wilson program, the guidelines are not absolutes and should be informed by the knowledge held by the Student Support/RtI team and other school personnel as they make a recommendation for a particular student.