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Interview with Diane Allen: Educational Testing Specialist


All About Spelling: A Key to Dramatic Improvement in Spelling, Reading, and Decoding

We recently caught up with Diane Allen in North Carolina. Diane is a busy parent who also happens to be an educational testing specialist who works with up to 150 students every school year.

Diane's story is especially interesting because she gets to see children's test results before and after using All About Spelling. Here's what she had to say:

How did you first find out about All About Spelling?

I was introduced to All About Spelling by my client, a homeschool mom whose child had some fairly common issues: the child's learning style and some auditory processing weaknesses made spelling very difficult for him. The mom found All About Spelling online and sent the link to me.

After you checked it out, what were your thoughts about the spelling program?

I did the sample lessons and immediately recognized elements of Orton-Gillingham philosophy and language therapy. And I know that Orton-Gillingham-based techniques work. But what impressed me most about All About Spelling is that it's inexpensive, doesn't require any special training, and is a very accessible program for the average parent. I started recommending All About Spelling to other parents, and eventually I used it with my youngest daughter.

Before All About Spelling, I had used just about every spelling program published. Years ago, I followed a well-respected program for one year with my middle son, yet he still failed to learn to read, and I had no idea why! That was when I found an Orton tutor and became familiar with that methodology. I'm happy to report that now, as a college student, my son reads and spells very well.

When my oldest child was being homeschooled, however, I did not understand the nature of his difficulty with spelling; I actually thought he was being lazy and inattentive. I used every spelling program available, and yet he remains a poor speller to this day. I think that if All About Spelling had been available during those years, my results would have been different with him. The method used in All About Spelling would have addressed his spelling difficulties, and he'd be a more confident speller today.

""What impressed me most about All About Spelling is that it's inexpensive, doesn't require any special training, and is a very accessible program for the average parent."


These two experiences helped me understand the value of All About Spelling as both a spelling program and a reading program for children who are challenged in these areas.

Perhaps parents with children who are natural readers can use just about any program—or no program at all—and it will work. But there are significant numbers of children who need a more direct instructional method for reading and spelling, and I believe All About Spelling works for those children because it addresses every learning style in one package.

Tell us a bit about your testing center...

I do standardized testing for homeschooled children, and I see many of the same students year after year. Last year I tested a group of students both before and after they had started using All About Spelling, and I saw progress in so many of them—and in a few of the students, the progress was dramatic.

Can you give us an example of the type of progress you see?

One child, who has significant cognitive impairments, was enrolled in public school and was having a very hard time with reading, spelling, and reasoning skills. He could not remember letter/sound relationships or sequence very well, and those issues had a profound impact on his ability to decode in reading. Before he was homeschooled with All About Spelling, this child tested at a 3.3 grade equivalent in spelling—but after three months with All About Spelling, he tested at a 6.2 grade equivalent. He had also made considerable gains in reading and, because he was accurately decoding words, he was beginning to make some gains in comprehension as well.

You've referred to reading several times...

I'm tempted to tell people that All About Spelling is a reading program because that's the area in which I see some huge improvements in children's skills. If a student has difficulty decoding a word and correctly sequencing its sounds, he won't be able to spell it—and that slows down his reading. All About Spelling actually builds both of those areas at the same time, which makes reading an easier task.

Teaching reading is a bit of a mystery to some homeschool parents. I know it was a mystery to me, and I have a degree in education. I remember thinking, "I don't really know how to teach reading because I don't remember how I learned to read."

All About Spelling makes teaching beginning reading and spelling simple. The program is completely scripted—just open the book and read the script! And All About Spelling is not just for learning-troubled children or struggling students. It really can work for everybody, and it's easy to implement—just ten to twenty minutes a day.

Any parting thoughts you want to leave us with?

With All About Spelling, you make continuous progress. You don't just push through to finish a lesson on a list of words to be tested on Friday, and you're never stressed about missing that deadline.All About Spelling is based on skill mastery, not a calendar, so you're never behind—just constantly moving forward.

Thanks, Diane, for taking time out of your busy day to share your experience with us!

Diane Allen administers a nationally normed and standardized achievement test in North Carolina, where the state requires annual testing of homeschool students to measure progress. Diane has a degree in education and homeschooled all three of her own children, two of whom have now graduated from college.

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