SP - Placement, year 1 + later years

Copywork, Cursive, Dictation, Grammar, Handwriting, Letter Writing, Memory Work, Narration, Read-Alouds, Spelling, Vocabulary, & Writing (many of these topics apply to other subjects such as Bible, History, and Science)

SP - Placement, year 1 + later years

Unread post by cbollin »

Placement for a good speller
SandKsmama wrote:This is my first year homeschooling - I have a 5 year old and a 9.5 year old. I'm doing MFW K and ECC and LOVE them. We are definitely sticking with MFW for next year.

Now, the spelling question...my dd is a natural speller, and I think in the entire book we used this year, we've found maybe 5 words so far that she didn't already know how to spell. I feel like I'm wasting her time and her spelling ability by continuing on with this. She is now okay with a change.

So, Spelling Power. I've never even really looked at it. I know it's expensive:-) Is it good for a natural speller - spelling really comes easily to her? Is it boring? :-) I know, I know. I really just need some reassurance that this is going to be a good choice for my daughter. My dd is also Little Miss dramatic, artsy, musical, VERY easily distracted:-), etc. Thanks!!!
Here's some basic info on Spelling Power.

It is a book that is designed to be used from about grade 3 - grade 12 and is a one time purchase to be used by multiple students over many years. so the cost over time is, well... cheap.

Built into SP are placement tests, so if your child is 4th grade, but spelling skills are at a different level (lower or higher) you work within that skill level.

Word lists are broken down by 47 phonics rules -- but not all 47 rules are covered every single skill level. There is some reason given in the SP book for the intentional skipping -- it has to do with difference in focus at the middle and high school level with some techno lingo that I don't care if I understand. :)

SP is designed to be used in about 10-15 minutes per day.

Posts: 268
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 11:32 pm

Re: Placement for a good speller

Unread post by DS4home »

We have been doing SP for a few years now, and love it. The biggest changes from her point of view will be: not having a workbook, and not working with the same list of words for a week. She would only be studying the words she missed. And the daily tests can be done on lined sheet paper or in the booklets that SP offers. If she's ready to try something new I think you would like SP. It has the ability to challenge her more as the other poster explained.

Posts: 114
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2005 6:00 pm

Re: Placement for a good speller

Unread post by Tina »

Hi: This is my first year using SP. I have a dd who is in 4th gr. and is doing very well with it. She has always been an excellent speller and I find that this type of program is working for her.

Now, there are 12 quick-steps to read in SP. Those are where you want to put your focus. The 12 quick steps are further outlined in the huge book and you can read all of that and how they came up with these steps, etc. but you don't have to to understand how to use and have success with SP. I was intimidated by the size of the book and the fact that I have never used this type of method of spelling (a new list of words everyday), I have always used a weekly list and test at the end of the week. So, it was a change with me as well and at first it was different, but now I wouldn't change her spelling program. She is doing very well with it and is having success in spelling. Don't be intimidated by the size of the book. Once you read the quick steps you will understand what you are doing.

Reading thru the quick steps and doing the placement tests will help you decide where to place your dd and what list to start with. If you have an opportunity to look at someone's SP, I would recommend it. I myself feel that yes, it was pricey to buy at first, but if I use this, even for two years, it is really worth the $$ you spend on it, and I plan to go right thru my dd's education with SP, and hopefully at some point, have my ds use it too.

Tina, homeschooling mother of Laura (1996), Jacob (1998) and Tucker (2003) In MO
"One of the greatest blessings of heaven is the appreciation of heaven on earth. He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."--JIM ELLIOT
Posts: 473
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 2:40 pm

Placing at C but doesn't know words at end of B

Unread post by kellybell »

Laura M wrote:I read all of the quick start pages in SP and did a placement test with my 8yo son. He placed at level C but as I looked at the words toward the end of level B I wasn't sure. I mean...is he suppose to already know all the words on the word lists for level B?
Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 5:02 pm
The words at the beginning of each level are easier than the words at the end of the previous level. Did I say that right?

Start him at C. Work through the lists. Many of the tough words are repeated in the next level as review words, which are marked with (R).

If soon into Level C he is stumbling, back up to Level B. Otherwise move on.

As your son writes papers and letters to grandma and history sheets, he'll misspell words. You can easily plug these words into his SP review lists. And, as you do MFW, there will be curriculum words like Mexico or botany that you want him to spell. Just add it onto the SP lists.
Julie L.
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 10:20 am

Re: Placing at C but doesn't know words at end of B

Unread post by Julie L. »

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 10:30 pm
I just asked this question a few weeks ago!:) My ds8 placed on level C also, BUT I saw too that I think he doesn't know some of level B including some month words. I decided to go on with level C- we are half way through now and he is doing well. He has missed a few of the (review) words at beginnings of groups which I think are the harder level B words- so he is having a chance to master them.

After doing level C I plan to look over level B to see if I think he still needs to know some words- if he does we will do those and if not, we will go on to level D. So far he is liking Sp especially picking an activity card to do the last 5 min.

Julie L.
Doing Adventures with ds8
Posts: 50
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2007 8:14 am

Re: Placing at C but doesn't know words at end of B

Unread post by Mommyto2 »

Posted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 6:12 am
How would your ds do if the words were hard for him? Would he be challenged and enjoy it or would you have a crying melt down and he hate spelling and come to the table each day upset and fearful?

My ds gets scared and upset if I introduce something he feels is too difficult. So we start easy and he soars through it and thinks he is so smart. We enjoy it after a slower start and he goes faster than if we had started on the harder words first.

Brenda wife to Aaron 10 years
ds 8 in Adv
dd 5 in K
Posts: 122
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2005 4:28 pm

Re: Placing at C but doesn't know words at end of B

Unread post by Toni@homezcool4us »

Posted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 11:58 pm
I just tested my 8yo today and she was placed at level D. I too wondered about earlier levels.

I'm thinking that because the lists are organized by phonetic principles and spelling rules AND there's built in review, I'm just going to trust the testing and placement.
Posts: 442
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 9:37 am

Placement in the following year

Unread post by Lucy »

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 9:27 pm

I always test my kids but usually find that they need to just finish the level they were in the year before. We usually are somewhere in the middle of a level at the end of each year. So they usually cover a level and 1/2 each year.

Placement test showing lower level than last year

Unread post by cbollin »

4grapes wrote:We used ECC last year and Spelling Power. Both my dds tested into level G so that is what we did last year. It seemed to work fine for us and they both did well on SAT tests. However, I did the placement tests again this year and my oldest dd (7th grade) tested onto level E while the other dd (4th grade) tested back on level G again.

What should I do? Should I start where they tested this year or go on and begin level H? My oldest dd has trouble with words that are spelled differently than the rule. The 4th grade dd is a natural speller. They did Spelling together last year so I don't really want to hurt oldest dd feelings by taking her back to E. But then again, if that is where she needs to be....

My oldest for some reason never places right in that placement test. She always places in D. and it was always because of weird things too. and yes, I've used both versions of the placement test.......

Why not just pick up where you left off? (whether that is G level at the end or beginning of H). Usually placement tests don't seem very valid once you're well into the program, and it is just not really worth it to do all of that fine tuning placement and such.

When it comes to words that don't seem to fit the rule, what sort of thing are you running into? It might one of those times to use some of the inductive teacher lead study times on those words. The words on the list do follow the rule being studied. But as you get in higher levels, some specific words will be more than one rule at a time. The Teacher Directed (inductive) lessons -- 4th edition, p. 203 is where that is explained.

Be encouraged -- Level G is about "7th grade" level list. Your 7th grader is doing fine.
Julie in MN
Posts: 2909
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: Placement test showing lower level than last year

Unread post by Julie in MN »

I agree that higher level spelling tests are difficult to maneuver. In the early grades, most children are at least familiar with the words. As the words get harder, more and more of them are unfamiliar and even unusual or out-of-date. And the skill set becomes very broad yet only a single word may be selected for the test.

I sometimes have worked with the placement tests a bit to make them more useful to me (whether I'm using the Spelling Power test or any other spelling test I happen to have). I have expanded the test, swapped words with the alternative test, changed to a different form of the same word, and so on. But if you're already using the program and already doing weekly spelling tests, I wouldn't even bother fiddling with the placement test.

Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002+)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

Placement test showing borderline levels

Unread post by cbollin »

Hmschooling wrote:Okay, dd is a young 3rd grader-- she's 7. SP says 8 yrs old, but she passes the readiness questions just fine.

Her survey test put her testing at level D (a 4.8 grade level) which I think is incredible! But she is borderline on the placement test. I can't really do the fine tune placement test because she just doesn't write much (she's getting OT and PT for very low muscle tone).

My guess is I should take her down to level C. Even though she did spell "arithmetic" correctly. LOL
Anyone agree...or should I put her where she placed? I may retest her again and just see if she is consistent with it. D seems too much for a 3rd grader that's 7 years old.
I would not start above level C. <grin>

many reasons:
*lists are much longer at higher levels. Given how SP is done, you'll stay longer in each group rule than you really need to if you're at too high of a level for the child's physical age.

*don't fret the fine tuning test (never done one).

*level lists are both skill based (phonics rules) and also take into consideration the age of the average kid in that list with the words and how long the words are.

*still consider doing the younger student method no matter what level she is on.

*try the dictionary skills in the back

*even though she placed into C, you might consider using B because those are words that she is more likely to need to spell this year in her everyday writing. One of the dangers in having the child work too far above grade and age level in SP has to do with retention of the words studied. If you aren't using them in everyday writing, then you're just doing spelling tests with lots of words, and that's a waste of time and effort. For example, a cyber friend of mine had her very talented child (4th grade) working in level I. But she found that her child couldn't recall the words. Not many 9 year old go around on a daily basis needing to write words like acquiesce. So they found that even though she could do the work level in SP and study -- her brain wasn't ready to retain the skills with the word list that was not part of her everyday life and writing.

My point on that is that if you find that your child isn't remembering everything in delayed recall, or review, or not carrying over those words to their writing, then perhaps using level B would be better suited for retention of the words. It's all the same rules and skills in the groupings (not all group levels have all of the skills of course). But then again, level C might work. I thought I'd say that now so you can look for it as you go. But given everything you've said on this thread (with the OT and PT) and other threads with PLL and PP and standardized testings and all of that --- I think you'd do well to start in level C and adjust down if needed to balance for her work capacity level. The early lessons will be easy and that will help you get used to the program. Then you progress at the child's rate, so you might end up in level D before next year anyway.

Just one opinion.
Posts: 32
Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2005 10:25 pm

Re: Placement test showing borderline levels

Unread post by Omma »

I just did the survey and placement test for my 8 ds. He tested as going into Level E. However, I gave him the placement test for D (instead of E) since he is so young. He got 7 wrong, but then I gave him C and he got 5 wrong. I think I will take the advice of the other poster and look at the words for C and even B and see which words are more likely to be the ones he actually uses in writing, etc. and go with that.

Thanks for writing this post. It helped me out, too!

Postby Omma » Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:10 am
I just thought I'd mention that I went down to Level B, Group 10 to start! I am glad that we did this, because my ds has missed only one word each day and I found that to be a great beginning to learning the system (for both him and me!)

Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2008 8:56 am

Re: Placement test showing borderline levels

Unread post by Hmschooling »

I've gone to level B as well, but picked out some of the groups that C doesn't cover...Group 13,14,15, Review 3, Gr. 18, 19. Then on to level C. After looking at the level B lists, I didn't see her missing more than one word per group for many of them. All of the words I felt she might miss were included on the C lists. It might take us two years to do it, but I just feel better about it. Even though she placed into D, I feel good with the decision I've made to start with part of B.

At first, I'm going to try the regular method with some modifications similar to the alternate method for younger students.

Thanks for the reassurance...knowing others are tweaking it for their kids like I am helps. :o)
Currently using HOD
Planning our future return to MFW for the high school years
Julie - Staff
Posts: 1046
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 11:52 am

SP - Do you retest for placement every year?

Unread post by Julie - Staff »

TNLisa wrote:Quick question - does my daughter just start with where she ended in SP last year, or do I re-test her for placement again?
Posted Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:16 pm by mamaofredheads
I think you retest at the beginning of every year.

Posted Mon Aug 18, 2008 5:41 am by cbollin
I use to retest at the beginning of the year. Then I decided to just pick up where we left off. I like that better. Not sure why. But we weren't finishing a level each year so in my mind it made sense to try to cover the other groups in that level. With math I don't take a placement test at the beginning of each year.

But, like Glenna, I was under the impression that the placement test is given each year too. I just don't really do that anymore. Probably ruining the program or kids or something. I don't know. <wink>

Posted Mon Aug 18, 2008 6:16 am by Mommyto3boys
I am continuing where I left off. Why would you retest?

Posted Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:31 am by Julie in MN
I like to have a pretest & a post-test each year to see my son's progress.

However, we haven't done spelling every year, so maybe if I were doing it every week over the years, I would be less enthusiastic to add another spelling test in the mix :o)

Posted Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:00 am by TNLisa
Thanks ladies - I'm going to go ahead and do the survey test with her this a.m. --- I like the idea of making sure she has retained/progressed from the previous year, and the survey test is a good way to assess that. She "should" be on Level E, but I will let the process confirm that.

On the other hand, I feel fine to continue where we left off...but the "process" will be a nice warm up for her. Have a blessed day!

Posted Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:11 pm by Mommyto3boys
Thanks for the reason why to redo the placement test. I have to test my ds yearly in NC so I just look at how he does each year in spelling and continue where we leave off.

Debbie in NC
Mom to 3 ds (9, 6, and 4) and 1 dd (17 mo.)

Beginning Spelling Power again

Unread post by cbollin »

amelasky wrote:Hello all! We used SP last school year when daughter was in ECC. It is now time to begin in CtG.

I cannot remember if we just pick up where we left off last year, or if I am supposed to retest to find out where I am supposed to begin her at. I am seriously pressed for time today and would appreciate any help. Thanks.
here are 2 opinions for different needs:

1. just continue where you were -- much like if it were a math book. You wouldn't re test for placement each year.

other side?
2. some people like to have the testing to get back in the swing and/or for purposes of seeing where they are after summer break

Posts: 78
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2009 12:08 pm

Re: Beginning Spelling Power again

Unread post by NJCheryl »

If you go strictly on the SP guide they say to reteat every year. We just retested, and I was surprised to find my daughter tested into leve lF. We were in the middle of E when we ended last year.

Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:22 pm
Location: Nebraska

Re: Beginning Spelling Power again

Unread post by rawbanana »

You could start where you left off, or use the first days-1 week to go over words that we missed in the last level you were on-thats what we did.
Anna-mom of 4 girls, 1 boy
Savannah 09/00
Ariel 02/02
Skylar 10/03
Jaidyn 06/05[/color
Joshua 02/08
Started ECC July 2010!
Posts: 207
Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2005 9:26 am

Re: Beginning Spelling Power again

Unread post by LSH in MS »

I retest every year. My dc skipped up a level this year. They were in G last year but didn't finish but this year tested into H. They have been reading a lot so maybe that has helped.

wife to Clifford, mother to ds (17), ds (16), ds (15, ds (13), ds (8), and ds (3)
MFW user for 10 years

Re: Beginning Spelling Power again

Unread post by MFW-Lucy »

Hey Ladies,

Just reiterating what Cheryl shared. The Spelling Power folks recommend retesting if you have taken more than a month break. One of the reasons was that you may be surprised that even if they did not complete a level you may see a jump to the next level. It is kind of neat that two of you said that was your experience.


Re: Beginning Spelling Power again

Unread post by cbollin »

Lucy Robertson wrote:It is kind of neat that two of you said that was your experience.

I wish that had been our experience with my first two children. No matter what level they were in, the placement test put them in level D. I think they just knew enough words on the list to get that far every year for 4 years no matter which actual level they were really working in. I just felt like the test didn't show their true level in the program. just an opinion.

I'm just curious --
for those who do test each year, do you start back with group 1 at the new level, or do you jump to approximately where you left off in group rules, but just at the new level? That was something that played in my decision to not really rely on the placement test. I felt like we never got to some spelling rules and since not all levels cover all rules...?

just curious how it looks in other families?

Re: Beginning Spelling Power again

Unread post by MFW-Lucy »


When my kids were using Spelling Power I never retested (had no idea that was the recommendation and never asked). We always just picked up right where we left off the year before. I think if you choose to not retest that is o.k. I have just learned recently from the Spelling Power folks what their official thoughts are so I thought I would share those.

In the end it is your children and you will know them best. So, picking up where you left off last year may be the best option for some families and some kids. Like I said we did not know any better and it worked out for us.


Re: Beginning Spelling Power again

Unread post by MFW-Lucy »

cbollin wrote:what is the official way it is "supposed" to be done (i.e. what does SP really recommend) when person retests and ends up a level ahead: start new level at group 1, or where they left off in group numbers by in the new level?

I'm just curious because it seems like it gets asked sometimes.

We did not know Spelling Powers official answer so we gave them a call to find out. They recommend starting at the beginning of the new level a child test into each year and if a child test at the same level again the recommendation is to start where you left off last year, instead of starting at the beginning of the level again.

Thanks for asking the question!

Julie in MN
Posts: 2909
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Spelling Power Question

Unread post by Julie in MN »

Mexmarr wrote:My daughter only has a few lessons of 2nd Grade Spelling, so we are thinking about starting Spelling Power. I was thinking that I had seen somewhere here where someone gave a brief list of the daily spelling recommendation, and that was repeated every day, just with new word. I'd appreciate any suggestions and tips. The book is so overwhelming, and I would like to be able to just pick up and go. It there a lot in the book that MFW doesn't use in their plans? Thanks.
ECC and up have instructions in the manual for starting Spelling Power. You might call and ask if MFW can walk you through those? And yes, MFW has you whisk past a lot of the book in the beginning :)

One thing to be aware of is that there is an optional method for younger kids that is less stressful for them. You see, SP was set up so that kids test first, and they don't have to study any of the words they already know. Older kids love this. But little ones often don't like taking a test they haven't prepared for and won't get 100% on.

Be sure to look through the Spelling Power threads in the archives if you go ahead and start. Lots of BTDT experiences there (scroll down to threads starting with "SP"):

Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002+)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

Re: Spelling Power Question

Unread post by cbollin »

I think in ADV there are SP instructions as well since some 3rd graders use ADV? my older manual does anyway.

Yes, that big orange book looks overwhelming. However, it is for grades 2-12. so you only use certain parts at a time.

I recommend getting the Quick Start video to show the overview of it all.

The first sections of SP will be placement tests. So, those are done and over once. Personally if I had a second grader, I'd start in level A and skip the placement test. Even if they are above that level, it will help you and the student learn the study method in less stressed ways.
MFW schedules it in small pieces. So, spelling will become a pick up and go kinda of subject, but remember it is a skill based subject, so it will be helpful for teacher to take some time to learn how to approach spelling as a skill.

The next section are spelling list for all grade levels.

Then, you get ideas on how use multisensory methods to practice spelling words.

Then, there is a lot in the book that can wait until you have a problem to solve. The SP author gives a lot of information and help to help you with the program and with carry over skills in writing. What if they are doing this or that to always misspell a word? then, there's helps for that.

do not skip the teaching part of Spelling Power where you introduce the sound and spelling(s) of that sound. i.e the Rules you are studying. If needed, get out whatever you used for phonics so you can review how to teach the rule in reverse. instead of a says /a/.... it becomes /a/ is spelling "a"

It really isn't that overwhelming of a program to use. It is an intimidating sized book however.
Mexmarr wrote:Thanks, guys. After I asked, I remembered that Adv did have info. I forgot, since I completely skipped over it at the time.

She started 2nd grade in Jan, and has almost finished 2nd grade work in PLL and Spelling Sound and Structure, We are on week 22 in ADV, and she is in 1B in Singapore ADv is 2nd and 3rd, anyways, so I was going to move her up to 3rd when we finish those books. She will be 8 in Nov. She tested easily into Level C. In fact, in her present spelling book, she has only missed one word - once. If I tried to put her in level A, she definitely would not miss any, lol
just clarifying.... I meant start at group A if they hadn't done any 2nd grade work, which clearly your first born has done that kind of work.

if she is turning 8 and has done a 2nd grade spelling, I probably wouldn't skip placement test. wow. she might not need formal spelling for a while either. some children don't. if they test more than 2 group levels above their age/grade level.... in some cases, the placement test results are too high, and taking the pressure off by going back a level can make it feel easier to learn the program -- which is the case as it is presented on the Quick Start video.

Posts: 57
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 2:26 pm

Re: Spelling Power Question

Unread post by Mexmarr »

Thanks, guys. After I asked, I remembered that Adv did have info. I forgot, since I completely skipped over it at the time.

She started 2nd grade in Jan, and has almost finished 2nd grade work in PLL and Spelling Sound and Structure, We are on week 22 in ADV, and she is in 1B in Singapore ADv is 2nd and 3rd, anyways, so I was going to move her up to 3rd when we finish those books. She will be 8 in Nov. She tested easily into Level C. In fact, in her present spelling book, she has only missed one word - once. If I tried to put her in level A, she definitely would not miss any, lol
Misty, Wife to a wonderful man! Mother to:
Rosy age 8 - 3rd grade, ECC
Gracie age 7- K and ECC orally (legally blind, Aspergers)
Lizzie age 4 1/2 - waiting to start K!
Andy age 3
Rebekah age 2
Ruthie born March 31st

Completed 1st and Adventures
Post Reply