Phonologial Awareness Literacy Screening, commonly called PALS, is a standardized literacy screening test designed by the state of Virginia to test students in prekindergarten through third grade. Other states, such as Wisconsin, also use PALS to assess young readers. PALS helps teachers and parents identify a student's trouble areas, such as letter sounds, spelling, rhyming, word concepts, alphabet knowledge, and oral reading in context, so they can proactively work with the student to target weak reading skills. To interpret PALS scores, you must compare a student's scores against provided benchmarks.

Benchmarks Are the Key

Examine the child's Student Summary Sheet. Each skill or task that PALS tested is listed on the sheet. Tasks are crafted to accommodate the child's grade level, so prekindergarten tests have a shorter, simpler list of skills than third-grade tests. The first number in the score column is the student’s score on that particular task. Compare that number to the number in parentheses. Each number in parentheses is the state-approved benchmark score for individual tasks. If a child scores at or below the benchmark, you can interpret that to mean that the student might need additional help with that skill. Numbers in the column marked "MAX" tell you the total possible score for each task.