Using 1-Minute Drills with a 2nd Grader

Lately there has been some debate among reading professionals about whether training students’ advanced phonemic awareness skills is a useful endeavor. We have seen success with using this approach with our students who have weak phonological skills by incorporating Kilpatrick’s One-Minute drills (from Equipped for Reading Success) into our twice/weekly Orton-Gillingham tutoring sessions. Below, I present a case-study of a student who has greatly benefitted from this approach. Student “A.” was tested using Kilpatrick’s PAST assessment both in October of 2020 (2nd grade) and again in January of 2021 (2nd Grade). A’s parents were wanting to know, if A. needed Auditory Processing interventions (as an Audiology assessment had indicated) or simply needed tutoring on phonological skills and dyslexia-specific interventions, so we decided to take data to see what type of gains she could make in 3 months of intervention. She ended up doing well with our tutoring and did not need any further audiology interventions.

Case Study: A.

A. was tested using the Kilpatrick PAST asessment at 3 months apart, during which she participated in twice/weekly Orton-Gillingham tutoring using the Kilpatrick Drills. My hypothesis was that if we did not see much or any growth on the PAST, then it would indicate A. would need to pursue the auditory processing interventions; if she did show gains, then our tutoring is doing what it should be and she should stick with it. (And probably what the audiologist was seeing on their testing was more just the struggles common with dyslexia.)

What we found was some good growth in her phonological awareness skills, about what I would expect with a student who has dyslexia and is receiving interventions targeting this skill.

At this point, I advised A’s parents that the only reason they may still want to consider the auditory processing interventions is if they see that they may be indicated in other areas (for example, if it would help her to hear in a noisy classroom environment, or for some other reason). Her phonological awareness is showing typical gains with our work, which┬áis great and will support her reading and spelling knowledge.

After 3 months, A. achieved the level of a typically achieving 2nd grader in phonological awareness skills using our interventions.

Here are some before/after graphs so you can see what I am referencing.

First assessment, the PAST (Kilpatrick) Version B, given in October 2020:


Highest Automatic Level was “I” but she did not pass F, G, or H. So I would consider this Late Kindergarten/early 1st grade level, but with gaps.

Second PAST assessment, Version C, given in January 2021:


Much improvement in the Onset-Rime, Basic Phoneme and some improvement in Advanced Phoneme levels. She is still Automatic at “I” but without ANY gaps, so that means she’s now at a typically achieving 2nd grade level in phonological awareness skills.

After this testing was done, A. continued tutoring with us until July of 2021. She graduated Level H in the Kilpatrick Drills, and got half-way through Barton Level 4 lessons (multisyllabic words). Her word-reading fluency (as tested by Easy CBM 1st grade lists) went from 73% accuracy 27 CWPM in March of 2020 to 94% accuracy with 46 CWPM in May of 2021. In Feb 2021, she read a 2nd grade assage at 84% accuracy and 41 CWPM. My hypothesis is that her improved phonological skills (from doing the Kilpatrick Drills) are translating to faster reading skills on these measures, although her reading is still below grade-level which indicates a need for continued tutoring services.

A. was able to read a 2nd grade level passage with 96% accuracy at 71 CWPM by July of 2021, so that puts her at the 30th percentile for her grade. Her vocabulary and comprehension were never a concern, so we focused on testing her phonological and decoding skills.

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