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Help Me Interpret DORA Test Results

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Tigger just finished the DORA reading test. His results were all over the board and I don't know how to interpret some of them. (He just finished first grade today. Yay!)



High-Frequency Word Subtest Score (Range: K to High 3rd): mid 2nd

Examines the learner's ability to quickly identify frequently occurring words. Responses are timed.


Word Recognition Subtest Score (Range: K to High 12th): low 12th

Measures the learner's ability to recognize a variety of leveled lists of words.


Phonics (Word Analysis) Subtest Score (Range: K to High 4th): Maximum

Assesses a learner's knowledge of basic phonetic rules and sounding-out skills. This subtest uses both real and nonsense words.


Spelling Subtest Score (Range: K to High 12th): high 1st


Oral Vocabulary (Word Meaning) Subtest Score (Range: K to High 12th): high 5th

Measures the learner's receptive oral vocabulary skills using leveled lists of vocabulary words.


Reading Comprehension (Silent Reading) Subtest Score (Range: K to High 12th): mid 7th

Evaluates the learner's ability to answer factual and inferential questions about a silently read story.


Lexile Level: 825



How could the first two subtests have such wildly different scores?


He can often sound out four syllable words if he tries, but his tendency is to skip them, or give up and whine that it's too hard. He'd rather argue with me for two minutes about how hard the word is than spend 30 seconds trying to sound it out slowly. He's always been like this. I was so relieved when we finished Phonics Pathways so I didn't have to fight with him about reading instead of guessing at words. He has the capability of reading much harder words, but not the maturity, and won't do it unless I'm there prodding him, like I was all through this test. Even then, he stormed off multiple times.


I already knew his spelling is just average for his age. His good vocab scores are no surprise.


What do I do with all this information? I know I need to focus more on spelling in second grade. We've only done it consistently for about five months. We're very slowly working our way through Webster's Speller. He does pretty well when the words are broken up by syllable for him, but he doesn't know how to divide long words into syllables himself, which is one reason (besides his attitude) why he struggles to read them. How do I teach him this? The one or two lists of rules for dividing into syllables I've seen had rules that didn't seem to work for most words.


What is a good book or website to find all the phonics rules that most programs skip? Tigger needs work on things like "tion says 'shun'."


Thanks for any help anyone can give me. (I'm glad the math test results were easier to understand and figure out what to do with.)

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The first one might depend on speed. That one could be thrown out if you know he reads high frequency words well (which I assume he does, based on the other levels). If he's reading a lot faster than he's clicking, the results will be skewed. The word recognition score means he's able to figure out what you're wanting. If you say, "bring me the box that has ______ on the label", even if he doesn't know those words, his decoding skill is good enough that he can figure out which one you want. The phonics test means that he knows all of the rules. Now he needs to focus on reading words that break the rules. Spelling is age-appropriate, which is often true for early readers. That's where you need to put your focus for the upcoming school year. Vocab & comprehension are also well above normal. My suggestion is that you drop any sort of phonics/reading instruction next year. Spend your time on high quality literature with rich vocabulary, and spend your time on spelling.

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I agree that the first section is based on speed. My DD took this and had a big discrepancy between the first 2 sections. The first is supposed to measure words that they can recognize very quickly, the second section is recognition of words, but it is not timed (so they can take their time and sound out each word and then choose without penalty).


My DD did the first two sections in the same way, reading and sounding out each word then choosing. So, she placed 3 grades higher on the second section than on the first.


We use the Phonics Road to spelling and Reading, which covers many (all?) phonics rules. We have liked it for teaching those phonics rules that help with both spelling and reading. We are finishing level one in a few weeks and will continue with all the levels.

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