These tests have been designed and developed by Neil Waddington, an Australian special education teacher, and first published in 1988.  Waddington (2004) explains his reasons for developing the tests,

“To assist with the identification, diagnosis and remediation of children with learning difficulties by bridging the gap between those teachers who rely mainly upon observation and personal judgment in assessing a student’s performance and those who naively accept the limited information of derived scores provided by tests as being the major consequence of diagnosis.” (Email: Waddington Page 1 )


Various schools around Australia use this test for the assessment of their school reading programs, for example at the Pomona School in Queensland, Van Dyk & Kimber (2000) use the Waddington Reading Tests to assess their whole school THRASS program.  The test was also used to assess the literacy of indigenous Australians in the “Phonological Awareness Program for Indigenous Students with Hearing Difficulties, a collaborative program of the Menzies School of Health Research and the Australian Hearing and the Association of Independent Schools of the Northern Territory.” (Godfrey, Partington, Sinclair 2000, Page1)

They explain why they used the Waddington Tests,

“After careful consideration and close examination, the reading tests contained within Neil J Waddington’s (2000) Diagnostic Reading and Spelling Tests 1 & 1 (2nd ed) were chosen because these tests appeared to be uncomplicated and the language appeared to be the most appropriate for Indigenous children in K through to Year 3. The items depicted relevant and current to be recognized such as balls, horses, fish and the sun etc., the tests were easy to score. The use of pictures with a three-option multiple-choice item narrowed choices and aided statistical analysis.  Three researchers, who all agreed that the face validity of the instrument appeared suitable for assessing the reading ability in English of Indigenous children, examined the test. (Godfrey, Partington, Sinclair 2000, Page2)


They are being used as an assessment tool for the Reading Recovery Program run by the Reading Recovery Council of North America. (Center, Y. et.al. (2002) Page 1.


Clearly set out, these tests are presented in an A4 size book within which are the photocopiable tests. The front page accommodates student, school and assessment details.  A small ‘sample’ test section is provided to assist with explanation of the test tasks. The tests begin very simply with basic picture/sound cues then gradually become more difficult and complex.  My Education Support Students write Test 1 in the second term and Test 2 in the fourth term. They are happy with the presentation of it.  They find it easy to follow and are not daunted by it nor do they find it threatening. The Waddington tests have clear understood and guidelines for teachers giving the test.  The test is not too long  (30 minutes) and easy to mark, yet valid when it comes to assessing the literacy of the students. Waddington states, (2000)“It is a very useful and efficient screening device,” I agree with Waddington (1988) in that the ‘true value of this test lies in the diagnostic information which can be extracted for programming purposes. (P4)

The strengths of these tests are that they provide an extensive diagnostic tool that enables the teacher to diagnose and/or detect difficulties with the following:

As Waddington (2000) states these are only a few of the literacy difficulties that may be diagnosed with these tests. (Pages 13/14)


This knowledge is invaluable to the teacher who desires to plan/program appropriately for the needs of the student with learning difficulties and enables the teacher to hone in and focus on any learning difficulties.

According to the Curriculum Council, (1993) “The primary purpose of assessment is to enhance learning.  Assessment practices have a powerful impact on learning and teaching.”(P37)  Learning and teaching cannot succeed without assessment, because assessment provides the teacher with a level or a baseline on which to begin instruction. Instruction given at a higher or lower level of a student’s capabilities may well endanger learning as either boredom sets in, or the student may be set up for failure. Assessment is also vital in the evaluation of a student’s progress. The Waddington Reading Tests give an accurate and comprehensive assessment of student’s literacy and reading skills, so enabling the teacher to plan and program appropriately and effectively for their needs. The tests enable the teacher to make valid judgments of the students’ progress and the tests are fair because they are conducted using criteria that are valid and transparent.  Which meet the requirements of the Curriculum Council (1993) The Curriculum council state, “ that assessment be valid, that is, the information the assessment provides about the student be valid in the actual ideas, processes products and values of the students.”   Feden & Vogel (2003) are of the opinion that, “The more the assessment approaches a real life task, the more it is said to be authentic.” (P 283.)  The Waddington Tests are more realistic, more related to the day-to-day life of the students. The Waddington Reading Tests provide assessment that is explicit enabling clear judgments to be made regarding the literacy skills of the students, together with clear evidence, which may be provided to the community.


The Curriculum Council  (1993) states that; “Assessment should not be discriminatory in any way, regardless of their race, religion, gender, language or socio economic or geographic circumstances.”  This test is non-discriminatory and has been successful monitoring the literacy programs for the indigenous Australian population.  (Godfrey, Partington, Sinclair 2000, Page 1)

 Assessments are required to be comprehensive, enabling the collection of evidence of achievement through multiple sources, whether it is practical or theoretical. The Waddington Reading Test is one of the most comprehensive literacy tests available, testing a large range of literacy skills and provides valuable data that compliments the other sources of assessment for example, work samples, teacher made tests, standardized tests, student self-evaluation etc.,


 Feden & Vogel (2003) are of the opinion that assessment is the collecting of information and evidence from multiple sources so that a clearer understanding of the student ‘knowledge and understanding, which results in a program that improves subsequent student learning. (Page 261) Because a teacher is able to comprehensively diagnose the literacy skills of their students through the Waddington Reading Tests, from a young age, early intervention programs may be put in place, culminating in a program for students that will meet their required needs, leading to successful learning. Evaluation is an essential facet of effective planning, programming and instruction. As Feden & Vogel (2003) state,

 “It behooves teachers to get feedback on how their students are reacting to instruction.  Just as students cannot improve their learning without frequent and specific feedback, teachers cannot improve their instruction without feedback.” (Page 281) 



 This test provides an accurate reading age level.  This is an important part of the test,


” A student’s raw score may be quickly converted to a derived score (eg. Reading age) which can complement, or even initiate further diagnosis by identifying students above or below that which was calculated from a sample of other students the same age.” (Waddington, 2000 Page 4)


This assists the teacher in selecting the appropriate reading age material and resources for the student.




The Waddington Diagnostic Reading Tests 1 and 2

Neil Waddington developed these tests in 1988. Neil is a teacher with many years experience with Special Needs Students.  These tests are easy to use, clearly formatted, and extensive, useful tools for diagnosing literacy difficulties. For example, they test the following:

(Waddington 2000 Pages 13/14)

 The above are just a few of the many literacy difficulties that these tests are able to diagnose.  They also provide an excellent and accurate derived scores (reading age/level of the student),  that are valid and accurate. In the first half of the year Test 1 should be given, with Test 2 being given in the second half.  The only limitation is that they are not age appropriate for Year 9 – 12 students.

Presented in A4 Book size for easy photocopying. The book includes an excellent Spelling Test as well as little extras, which are photo copyable. For example, A Special Need Student Assessment Sheet, Reading Assessment Sheet, Reading Record Sheet, Word skills Study List, Test Summary Sheet and   “Letter Sounds/Picture Cues cards. Waddington also produces an excellent set of Diagnostic Maths Tests.

Ref. (Waddington, N. Diagnostic Reading & Spelling Tests 2nd Ed. 2000 Waddington Australia)

(c) 2004 M. Haselton