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When readers see words, they need to identify the letters. They also need to know the positions of the letters in a word. For example, in the word ‘who’, ‘w’ is first, ‘h’ is in the middle, and ‘o’ is at the end. This contrasts with ‘how’, where ‘h’ is first, ‘o’ is in the middle, and ‘w’ comes last.

The Letter Position Test assesses children’s ability to assign positions to letters. While this test can be used with all children, it is a particularly useful for screening children for ‘letter position dyslexia’ (LPD). Children with LPD have a specific problem assigning positions to letters. This problem causes ‘migration’ or ‘anagram’ errors in (1) reading aloud (e.g., reading slime as “smile”); (2) in same-different decisions (e.g., judging slime and smile to be the same); (3) deciding if a string of letters is a word or not (e.g., deciding that brid is a word); and (4) defining a written word (e.g., slime: “that’s like giggling without the sound”). This problem is said to be ‘specific’ because children with LPD often have normal reading for nonwords, regular and irregular words (please see page 4 for further readings on LPD). However, children who have poor word and/or nonword reading can also have difficulties with letter position coding, but we currently don’t know how poor letter position coding impacts on children’s literacy skills.

The Letter Position Test consists of 60 migratable words, in which the letters can be rearranged to create a new word (e.g., ‘pirates’ can be read as ‘parties’). According to the Children’s Printed Word Database, 56 of these words should be known 5-9 year olds (Masterson, Stuart, Dixon & Lovejoy, 2010). The remaining four words are not in this database but are likely to be familiar to most children from Year 3/4 onwards.  

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