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Research & Validation

Dr. Rick Wagner, Florida State University

Dr. Richard K. Wagner

Robert O. Lawton Distinguished
Professor of Psychology,
Florida State University
Associate Director,
Florida Center for Reading Research


Research suggests that half of older, struggling readers are students who lack fundamental word-reading skills. Difficulties with word-level reading become increasingly problematic as students get older.

These students may appear to be fluent readers, but rarely manage to comprehend and acquire new words without explicit support. As content-area material grows more complex, these students may exhibit difficulty mastering concepts independently.

Designed to assess word-reading fluency, this computer-based intervention assessment focuses on:

  • Fluency: The more accurate and automatic readers become with these word-level reading processes, the more cognitive resources become available for comprehending strings of text.
  • Nonword Decoding: When presented with a nonword, readers must break it into parts, retrieve sounds associated with the parts, and string them together to read the unfamiliar word.
  • Sight-Word Knowledge: Skilled readers have large vocabularies of sight words that can be recognized automatically.

Research Studies

Learning to Read: On the Importance of Phonological Decoding and Assessment with Non Words

SPI is based on a research foundation that stresses assessing phonological decoding in particular assessing pronounceable nonwards in a decontextualized environment.

Learning to Read: On the Importance of Phonological Decoding and Assessment with Non words
By Richard K. Wagner

Scholastic Phonics Inventory Technical Guide

Download the SPI Technical Guide to learn about the reliability and validity of the Scholastic Phonics Inventory.
By Richard K. Wagner

  • This technical guide describes how concurrent validity studies reveal high correlations between the SPI and the Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE), and the Woodcock-Johnson Tests III.
  • It also describes how criterion-prediction validity studies reveal that the SPI accurately identified students whose decoding levels suggests placement into either phonics-based or reading-based intervention.