Acquiring Literacy in English:
Crosslinguistic, Intralinguistic, and Developmental Factors

Developmental Contrastive Decoding Test

Author and Date

Elizabeth Howard, Julie Sugarman, Igone Artegoitia, and Silvia Caglarcan, Center for Applied Linguistics. 2002.


The Developmental Contrastive Decoding Test was developed to investigate the English decoding development of Spanish-English bilingual children with an emphasis on potential cross-linguistic influences (Spanish to English and vice versa). The test was developed for the research study Spelling as an Indicator of English Literacy Development, subproject 3 of Acquiring Literacy in English: Crosslinguistic, Intralinguistic, and Developmental Factors.

Age or Grade of Examinees

The assessment was developed to be used with students in grades 2 through 5.


The test is a 20-question, multiple-choice assessment with instructions in English. A series of pseudowords are dictated to the students, who are asked to select which one of four written pseudowords matches the one that was dictated.


1. Word dictated to child is“skup”

 2. Word dictated to child is “mecket”


1   o    



1   o    



2   o



2   o



3   o



3   o



4   o



4   o




The test is group administered by a trained native English speaker. The assessment takes approximately 15 minutes to administer.

Scoring and Interpretation

This test is scored dichotomously: 1 point for each correct answer, no points for incorrect answers.

Reliability and Validity

A reliability of .94 was obtained for the pilot version through a Rasch analysis. Validation data are pending.


The Developmental Contrastive Decoding Test is not available for use by researchers outside the Center for Applied Linguistics.

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