Assessing the Code Levels

I Can Read Without You (ICRWY) Project

Use the hard copy resources to track phonics skills and record 'how far travelled'.


Use the online and digital resources to track phonics skills and record 'how far travelled'.


Please do not start benchmarking (standardised testing to ascertain 'reading level') until children can read yellow Code Level readers with confidence. At that stage they know enough of the alphabetic code, and exception words, to read these books using 'decoding' as the primary strategy for figuring out unfamiliar words. This has been working really well in Australia. 


Speedy Paired Decoding
(Code Mapping)

SSP Code Mapping Schools share information about the strategies with parents and carers. 


This technique (Speedy Paired Code Mapping) allows the teacher to ascertain how efficiently the student is mapping the phonemes to graphemes - and really helps with that child’s encoding abilities (it improves spelling) They can’t be ‘blinded by the letters’. It’s also a great assessment tool therefore.

Videoing enables us to analyse later with the child, if we have time (and are good for teacher training/development sessions) and select a few words to target. For example do they recognise that the /er/ at the end of words is generally a Schwa (like an uh sound) and NOT /er/ as in ‘perfect’. They check the IPA and listen back to how they said the word when they read the sentence back.

I do this with teachers to check their mapping too It’s not as easy as you’d think. I have teachers with Masters degrees in literacy who find they’re struggling to ‘follow the sounds’ so I can ‘say the word’. I blend the actual sounds they give me and they look at me puzzled - we play back the tape and they realise they weren’t giving the speech sounds they use, they were blinded and gave the sounds often associated with that grapheme in a basic phonics program.

Notice how he self-corrected the word ‘neither’ as his brain knew the word given wasn’t correct. That is HUGE and shows us his cognitive processing. He had carried on but knew it wasn't right and went back.

The best learning of the phoneme to graphemes mapping can happen when doing Speedy Paired (or group) Code Mapping and The Speedy Six spelling activities. They are exploring the whole code. This is a quick way to get older kids back on track. If they can read it improves their spelling as they become their own spelling coach. Kids can do it solo - for this purpose! (to improve spelling) - they ‘follow the sounds to say the word’ for a whole page, reading each sentence in ‘a speaking voice’ after mapping it.

Try it yourselves! Say this in speech sounds.

The rough water made swimming in the stormy sea a nightmare for Lara!

There are 2 3 4 3 6 2 2 5 2 1 5 2 4 phonemes. If I asked you to monster map it I’d learn even more as I can also see the phonemes you’ve identified.

Testing the spelling of high-frequency words by asking the child to give the speech sounds (phonemes) while writing. If the child just writes the word we might be able to tick something on a sheet, but we’re not understanding where they are on the journey towards orthographic mapping. If they spell the word incorrectly they may have no issues with phonemic awareness (they gave the correct speech sounds) and so we know it was a grapheme mapping error. If they spell the word incorrectly and didn’t give the correct sounds it could be a phonemic awareness issue, and also a grapheme mapping error (potentially as a result)

When testing kids you need to check their cognitive processes, to best plan what they are missing and need. You need to get into their heads!

Thanks Stephanie


Testing HFW (sight words)

Notice the difference in approach here - he chose the wrong Sound Pic (y/oo instead of y/ou) and rather than showing him ‘you’ or asking ‘are you sure’ or other things I see when visiting schools, this experienced SSP Code Mapping teacher shows him a few options. He immediately sees the right one, and can change. So she just presented him with info, and he chose - and listen to his excitement because he did the work, he figured it out?! He feels great about himself, as he should! And will remember next time when writing.

Guide the kids to work it out themselves. The kids will love you for it!!


Kylie gives an overview of the phonemic awareness tracker

135 students assessed in under an hour! 

The Coding Poster enables children to learn the high frequency graphemes quickly and easily, as working at their own pace and it also frees up the teacher to offer 1:1 help to children who need it. The teacher, or classroom helpers, are also freed up to move around the room to watch and listen. For example to check that children are correctly segmenting We’re including ccvcc ccvc cvccc words from the GCL. spin pant spits ants etc can be hard for some to segment  
Code Mapped text shows the segmentation, and enables the brain to make sense of something that isn’t ‘natural’ ie phonemic awareness. Without this skill children will struggle with phonics. So we develop this skill using a small group of graphemes (Green Code Level) and then adding in another group (Purple Code Level)

Phonics chants - say the grapheme, use in a word. Some like doing them with their friend, some alone. I run this as a group activity too. Once a week I lead the whole class through the 4 code levels (100 or so high frequency graphemes)

This also frees up the teacher to step in when they hear something that needs correcting. For example there is no /e/ sound (phoneme) in the word ‘kitten’. The e grapheme represents the schwa. They may not have been conscious of that when working with the words on the other side of the Coding Poster.

The Coding Poster is to facilitate independent, and also to offer the teacher the opportunity to monitor and assess progress, and step in where necessary. They can jump in and correct specific errors, helping each child with what THEY needed.

Teachers who use SSP Code Mapping are using an early intervention approach and dedicated to understanding 'how far travelled' for each individual, using ongoing assessment tools. School leaders also use these 'learning stories' to ascertain teacher effectiveness, and see which teachers need more ongoing support (this may include needing extra in-class support, for example when more children need more 1:1 support)