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​The P-O-S-E is a criterion-referenced test instrument for assessing short vowel proficiency in the reading and spelling initially targeted at third grade* students.

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   There is a synergistic developmental relationship among hearing and seeing, reading and writing. Hearing is the only teloreceptive sense that is active in utero. It has been demonstrated that a fetus can hear sounds, though muffled, as early as twenty weeks. By the third trimester of pregnancy, hearing is essentially intact.  Among all speech elements, maternally-produced vowels sounds and prosodic features are the earliest speech elements experienced through pre-partum hearing. Post-partum, speech sound exposure is supplemented by consonant sounds.

Infancy and early childhood provide a rich immersion in auditory-verbal stimulation leading to the concomitant development of both auditory receptive and oral expressive language. In this period, sound-symbol-language relationships tend to evolve more as a gestalt than elementally associative in construction.

In the early childhood educational context, there has developed a formal system of phonics to facilitate learning the relationship between letters and sounds, subsequently sounding-out or decoding and spelling words. Initially, children are taught to associate letter consonants to phonemes, followed sequentially by short vowels, digraphs, blends and long vowels. Consonants and short vowels are taught first because of the general regularity of the sound-symbol relationship.  Significant, empirically based theory has been applied to stress the importance of sequencing and layering these skills for effective decoding and recoding of language (Frith, Ehre, et al).

​Contemporary iterations of national (CCSI, 2011) and state (NY, 2005, 2011) Common Core Learning Standards posit acquisition of phonological and orthographic competence for short vowels and the silent /e/ rule in monosyllabic words by the beginning of grade two.​ *

There is general consensus that the third grade represents a nexus between “learning to read” and “reading to learn”.  (q.v. "Matthew Effect") Consistent with the construct of sequentially obtained, integrated and layered linguistic structures, the Phonological-Orthographic Substitution Evaluation©  (P-O-S-E©) was developed as  a criterion-referenced test instrument to provide a valid, elemental assessment of short-vowel proficiency in reading and spelling at the critical third grade level.

The P-O-S-E© consists of 120 test items, monosyllabic morphemes. There are four sub-tests of thirty items each. Two subtests entail Spelling tasks for real words and for non-words, respectively. Two subtests entail Reading tasks for real words and  for non-words, respectively. Each subtest consists of ten CVC short vowel items, ten CCVCC short vowel items and ten silent /e/ rule long vowel items. The P-O-S-E© Spelling subtests are administered first to individual classes or, simultaneously, to groups of classes. After one to two weeks, the P-O-S-E© Reading subtests are administered to each student, individually. Items are scored based on vowel phonology assessed directly in Reading and indirectly in Spelling.


P-O-S-E© analysis, baseline and RTI, is facilitated per student using the included computer scoring application. For class, school and grade P-O-S-E© analyses, a service is available to convert raw P-O-S-E© data into detailed class baseline and RTI  reports. When this service is engaged, optional hyper-detailed individual student reports can be produced including pre- and post-vowel item analyses, bar charts of aggregate substitution errors per short vowel and graphic substitution error analysis in the context of the vowel quadrangle for both Spelling and Reading.


P-O-S-E© outcomes form the prescriptive basis for remediation. Components of P-O-S-E© vowel training are carried out by school staff including ESL, Reading, Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology teachers, Baseline v. RTI comparisons validate intervention effectiveness. To date, the P-O-S-E© has been administered to more than 4000 third grade students, adopted by directors of Curriculum and Pupil Personnel in two major Long Island, NY school districts.


The P-O-S-E©, measuring a foundational skill designated by CCSS, correlates significantly with accepted measures of literacy including Fountas and Pinnell Benchmarks, Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress (NWEA / MAP) and, to a lesser extent, with New York State English Language Arts (NYS ELA) test.


The fact that in 2013, Grade 3 produced the highest in-district performance levels in NY ELA scores among all grades, 3 through 8 must be interpreted in light of subsequently analyzed data suggesting that the NYS ELA for Grade 3, 2014 is both invalid and unreliable as an index of literacy.






For the full academic year (2012-2013), the P-O-S-E© program was fully implemented at our licensed beta site with a sizeable Hispanic ESL population: Mineola, U.F.S.D. This included baseline Grade 3   P-O-S-E© assessment, P-O-S-E© vowel training implemented through ESL, Reading, Special Education, Speech-Language Pathology and General Education and end-of-year P-O-S-E© RTI assessment. Without positing causality, it is to be noted that the target 2012-13 Grade 3, consisting of ten classes,  gained the highest in-district New York State English Language Arts (ELA) proficiency score, revised to Common Core State Standards (CCSS), among all Mineola U.F.S.D. Grades 3-8.  



The fact that in 2013, Grade 3 produced the highest in-district performance levels in NY ELA scores among all grades, 3 through 8 must be interpreted in light of subsequently analyzed data suggesting that the NYS ELA for Grade 3, 2014 is both invalid and unreliable as an index of literacy.


       (Click image below to open full graphic view of Mineola U.F.S.D. ELA outcomes 2011-13. Ctrl-Scroll changes image size.)

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*Grade 2 P-O-S-E(c) application

In the early stages of criterion-referenced P-O-S-E(c) test development (2005-6),  a pilot probe of applicability to Grades 2, 3 and 4 was carried out in the Plainview-Old Bethpage school district of Long Island, New York. It was determined that Grade 4 students, with few exceptions other than CSE-designated children,  excelled in short vowel proficiency.  at that time, Grade 2 students did not demonstrate a sufficient level of orthographic and phonological skills to complete the spelling component of the P-O-S-E(c). Grade 3 became the target population for the P-O-S-E(c).


Subsequently, as an analytic consequence of the P-O-S-E(c) Grade 3 outcomes in 2006-7, the POB district systematically initiated a comprehensive phonological / phonemic awareness, phonics and spelling program in Grades K-2. The subsequent, positive impact of early grade intervention was demonstrated in improved P-O-S-E(c) scores for Grade 3. A probe of Grade 2 students demonstrated developmental skills adequate for valid administration of the P-O-S-E(c). 


More recently (2012-13; 2013-14), follow-up investigation on  applicability of the P-O-S-E (c) to Grade 2 has been pursued in the Mineola U.F.S.D. 


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