Reading measurements

Understand Dyscover's core reading measurements

Dyscover has combined 2 hours worth of traditional assessment into a 10 minute online reading test, providing assessors with an accurate score for six reading measurements.

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Reading Accuracy

Reading Accuracy (RA) is computed by measuring the percentage of words correctly read aloud during Dyscover's assessment session. The assessor indicates when a word is correct, incorrect or not attempted by clicking on the appropriate area of the screen once the student has read the word. Dyscover then calculates the percentage of accuracy: the number of words read correctly divided by the total number of words read to arrive at the RA.

An important element in reading fluency is accuracy. Reading with accuracy is the ability to read the text with very few or no mistakes and is the most essential skill of reading fluency. Therefore, an increase in accuracy leads to better fluency and comprehension. 

Accurate decoding is a necessary foundation of reading comprehension, and is a skill that must be mastered if students are going to be able to “read to learn”. If students cannot quickly decode words, they will continue to struggle while reading.  Students also need to be able to quickly read non-decodable sight words to improve their accuracy.

Opportunities to develop reading accuracy:

  • Importance of the explicit teaching of phonics source
  • Structured Synthetic Phonics: A Guide for Teachers and Parents source
  • Recommended programs factsheet source
  • Resources and links source
  • How to teach sight words source
  • Orthographic mapping source



Syllabication is measured by assessing the student's ability to divide words appropriately into syllables by accurately reading words aloud. The words provided are a combination of regular, irregular and pseudowords that span across 1 to 4 syllables in length. It is the role of the assessor to indicate whether the student reads the words accurately or not, and they must manually enter them accordingly by clicking a button while administering the reading assessment.

Syllabication describes the act of dividing words into syllables. A syllable is part of a word that contains sound/s (phonemes). Also known as a ‘beat’, syllables can be identified by students in many ways including: clapping the word beats or patting down the arms (eg fan-tas-tic). Another way to describe a syllable is a ‘mouthful’ in a word.

There are 7 syllable types that can be explicitly taught: closed, open, magic e, vowel team, r controlled, diphthong, and consonant -le.

More than 80% of words in English have more than one syllable.  It is much easier to read a new, unfamiliar word in chunks or syllables rather than to try to sound out all the phonemes in one long, continuous string.  Syllables are easier to remember than small and individual bits of information (phonemes) so they lighten the cognitive load in reading. A lighter cognitive load frees up working memory and that’s important because learning new skills requires a lot of working memory.

Opportunities for developing syllabication skills:


Word Reading Fluency

To assess Word Reading Fluency (WRF), the student's reading rate together with their ability to accurately read real and pseudowords are combined to compute the number of words a student can read fluently in one minute.

The skill preventing many students from reading proficiency is word-level reading, specifically decoding and word identification. Word reading fluency assesses the student’s sounding-out ability and their whole word recognition of single words. The ability to sound out involves converting printed letters to their corresponding sounds and is assessed by having the student decode aloud pseudowords (nonsense words), such as /yud/. Whole word recognition ability involves accessing stored knowledge about familiar words and is assessed by having the student read aloud irregular words, such as /enough/, which cannot be decoded by sounding out the word.

Word reading fluency plays a vital role in the student’s ability to read. Accurate and timely decoding of unfamiliar words helps to improve the fluency of reading which allows for reading to become a natural, enjoyable and meaningful experience. Fluent reading means the student is then able to focus on comprehension and extracting meaning from the text and is the very reason we read.


Opportunities for developing word reading fluency:

  • Phonemic Awareness Video source
  • Phonemic Awareness Activities source
  • Kilpatrick’s “Equipped for Reading Success” source
  • What is Orthographic Mapping? source


Sight Word Fluency

In order to assess Sight Word Fluency (SWF), the focus is on the student's ability to read regular and irregular words. Dyscover calculates how many words are read accurately (the number of errors compared to number of correct words read) and the reading rate (number of words read per minute) to measure the SWF.

Sight words, also known as high-frequency words, are words that a reader recognises without having to sound them out. Some sight words are irregular or have letter-sound relationships that are uncommon, while some abide by the generalisations or rules of the English language and can be sounded out once a student has been explicitly taught those rules through a systematic pedagogy.

Sight word recognition plays an important role in learning to read fluently, and although not a substitute for the critical skill of being able to decode unfamiliar words (referred to as word identification), recognising frequently occurring words automatically and by sight, contributes to reading effortlessly and with understanding.

It is considered that the first 100 sight words represent over 50% of English text, therefore a student who has mastered those sight words can already recognise at least half of a sentence.

The need to recognise high-frequency words automatically is significant; sight word instruction remains one component of a comprehensive literacy program for early readers and for older students experiencing reading difficulties as part of reading intervention.

Opportunities for the teaching of sight words:

  • Teaching Sight Words as a Part of Comprehensive Reading Instruction source
  • How to teach sight words source
  • Orthographic mapping source
  • Kilpatrick’s “Equipped for Reading Success” source
  • Oxford sight wordlist source
  • Fry sight wordlist source


Phonetic Decoding Fluency

In order to assess Phonetic Decoding Fluency (PDF), the focus is on the student's ability to read pseudowords. Dyscover calculates how many words are read accurately (the number of errors, compared to the number of correct words read) and then combines them with the reading rate (the number of words read per minute) in order to measure the PDF.

Decoding is the learned ability to “sound out” words that don’t look familiar and is a key skill for learning to read, involving the taking apart of sounds in words (segmenting) and blending sounds together. It requires both knowledge of letter-sound relationships, as well as an ability to apply that knowledge to successfully identify written words and make meaning. Phonetic decoding connects sounds to symbols, and phonics instruction supports readers to make those connections. An example of applying this knowledge would be knowing that when the letter c is followed by the letters ei, or y, it makes its soft sound, as in cellcity, and cypress. When the c is followed by a, o or u, the letter c makes a hard sound as in capcode and cut.

Decoding is essential to reading. It allows students to decipher words they may have heard but have not seen in print before, as well as sound out words they are not familiar with. The ability to decode is the foundation upon which all other reading instructions, such as fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension are built.

Opportunities to develop phonetic decoding fluency:

  • Importance of the explicit teaching of phonics source
  • Structured Synthetic Phonics: A Guide for Teachers and Parents source
  • Recommended programs factsheet source
  • Resources and links source


Dyscreen Dyslexia Screener

Dystech has developed a scientifically proven algorithm that individually assesses the audio recording of a student reading aloud. As the student reads the words displayed on a screen in front of them, the algorithm collates and processes the information to predict the likelihood of the student being dyslexic. Our algorithm has been trained using a method called machine learning.

It took us many years and multiple collaborations to develop this reliable technology. You can learn more about it and our scientific publications by clicking on the button below.

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