Dynamic Screening for Phonological Awareness (DSPA)

Dynamic Screening for Phonological Awareness (DSPA)

Mindy Sittner Bridges and Hugh W. Catts


· Ages: 4-6 Years

· Grades: PreK-1

· Testing Time: 10 minutes


The DSPA is a dynamic screening instrument to help identify young children who qualify for phonological awareness intervention.


The DSPA is quick, 20-item screening based on the two best predictors of at-risk readers—sound and syllable deletion. Dynamic assessment means the examiner gives the child feedback and instructions (prompts) throughout the tasks. When a child gives an incorrect response, the examiner provides a series of prompts until the child answers correctly or all of the prompts are given. The prompts consist of verbal and visual feedback and are presented in a hierarchy. A dynamic assessment provides information about the child's ability to respond to instruction that is not obtainable through more traditional assessment sources.


The child's performance during the DSPA provides information about his potential to improve his phonological awareness ability. Find out how the child responds to standardised, targeted instruction and the amount of effort he requires to learn unfamiliar skills. Examine which prompt level increases a child's successful performance and use that to teach the child during specialised intervention (i.e., Tier 2 within an RTI framework). For example, if the child requires the visual cue (prompt 3) to provide the correct answer, this indicates that teachers should incorporate visual prompts, such as pictures, tapping blocks, or letters, into a child's phonological awareness intervention.



For early identification to work effectively, screening measures must accurately and efficiently identify those children at risk. Research shows that deletion tasks best differentiate children who are at risk of reading disabilities from children who are not at risk in kindergarten and first grade. Success on the DSPA is measured by a combination of a child's independent and assisted performance. The dynamic assessment format allows the examiner to measure how well the child responds to targeted instruction and feedback in reading-related skills. The examiner can determine how difficult it will be for a particular child to learn to read over an extended period of instruction.


Test Items

There are 20 items on the test. The DSPA uses a syllable or phoneme deletion format, in which the child is required to say a word after deleting a portion of the word. For example, "Say cowboy without cow" and "Say make without /m/."



COMPLETE DSPA KIT INCLUDES: Examiner’s Manual, Picture Stimuli Book, 20 Test Forms (including Prompting Protocol Form)
34200...DSPA Complete Kit      
34201...DSPA Forms (20)