What Are the Different Types of Literacy Tests?

DIBELS is one assessment for gauging the strength of students literacy skills.
CTOPP tests phonetic knowledge about individual letters and simple words.
Adult learners are often tested on their literacy.
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  • Written By: Jami Yontz
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 03 September 2014
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There are many different types of literacy tests aimed at evaluating the reading, writing, and comprehension skills of a person. Most educational facilities test a student’s literacy periodically throughout the child’s elementary and secondary education. In the United States, the General Education Development (GED) test rewards students with a certificate equivalent to a high school diploma and includes a section on reading and writing to test literacy skills. The Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems (CASAS) is used by universities and organizations to assess a person’s literacy level, and the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP) tests a person’s phonics knowledge of the English language. The naturalization test, a test that immigrants must take to become a citizen of the United States, also tests the person’s English and literacy skills.

The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIEBLS) is a set of measures that tests students from kindergarten to sixth grade on phonological awareness, vocabulary, reading comprehension, fluency with connected text, and alphabetic principles. This and other similar literacy tests serve as a benchmark that educators can compare future test results with. Another type of grade school level test is the secondary school literacy test, administered by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) in Ontario, Canada. The exam tests students on his or her reading and writing to assess the province’s overall literacy rates and education effectiveness.


Another group of literacy tests are given to adult learners and non-native English students entering university. The CASAS is one example, and has three separate tests comprise of the life and work series, the functional writing exam, and the workplace speaking test. All of these test the person’s literacy level by providing results on the person’s ability to follow instructions, complete forms, read labels, and other daily activities that require a certain level of literacy competency. The person is also tested on his or her ability to understand the spoken word and to provide a response or feedback.

The CTOPP is another type of literacy test that is based on the idea that phonics, or the sounds of language that are combined to form words, are the basis for learning to read and write. It determines the person’s ability to identify the phonetic structure of a word or the separate phonemes of the word. Creating blends with phonemes and memorization of the sounds that each letter of the language makes is also important.

The naturalization test for United States citizenship approval requires that the person be able to read, write, and speak in English. These literacy tests are usually given during the person’s interview with an immigration officer, who will determine if the person’s literacy level is acceptable. During the interview, the person will also have to answer questions on United States history.


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