PALS-PreK is a scientifically-based phonological awareness and literacy screening that measures preschoolers’ developing knowledge of important literacy fundamentals and offers guidance to teachers for tailoring instruction to children’s specific needs. The assessment reflects skills that are predictive of future reading success and measures name writing ability, upper-case and lower-case alphabet recognition, letter sound and beginning sound production, print and word awareness, rhyme awareness and nursery rhyme awareness. The assessment scores indicate children’s strengths and those areas that may require more direct attention. The assessment is designed to be administered to four-year-olds in the fall of PreK in order to guide instruction during the year. A second administration in the spring of PreK serves to evaluate progress.
The teacher asks the child to draw a self-portrait and to write his/her name. Name writing is scored on a developmental continuum, ranging from scribbles to the use of mixed symbols to writing the entire name correctly.
The teacher asks the child to name the 26 upper-case letters of the alphabet presented in random order. Children who know 16 or more upper-case letters also take the lower-case alphabet recognition task. Children who know 9 or more lower-case letters are also asked to produce the sounds associated with the 23 letters and 3 consonant digraphs (ch, sh, etc.)
Beginning Sound Awareness
The teacher says the name of a picture and asks the child to produce the beginning sounds for words that start with /s/, /m/, and /b/.
Print and Word Awareness
The teacher reads a familiar nursery rhyme printed in a book format and asks the child to point to various text components. In this natural book-reading context children demonstrate their awareness of print concepts such as directionality and the difference between pictures, letters, and words.
The teacher shows the child pictures and names the object depicted in each one. The teacher asks the child to point to the picture that rhymes with the first one presented.
Nursery Rhyme Awareness
The teacher recites familiar nursery rhymes, stopping before the end so the child can supply the final rhyming word.
Scores and Expectations
PALS-PreK provides developmental ranges and expectations for four-year-olds in the spring of PreK. PALS-PreK is designed to guide instruction and highlight individual emergent literacy needs.
The best interpretation of PALS-PreK results includes using child-level results to help meet children’s specific needs and classroom-level results to guide instruction for the whole group. Scores from an entire classroom can inform teachers’ curriculum planning so that they can provide and enhance opportunities for exploration and language-based literacy instruction for all children.