Praxis Elementary Education Exam—Stages of Writing Development

By Carla C. Kirkland, Chan Cleveland

The Praxis Elementary Education exam requires that you be familiar with the stages of writing development in students. Writing development occurs as students’ skills evolve, and ranges from making scribbles to show ideas to understanding standard spelling.

The stages of writing development are as follows:

  • Scribbles or drawings. Marks or pictures the child makes to show ideas; these may seem random and do not look like print.
  • Letter-like symbols. Some marks look like letters, and numbers may be present as well; marks may seem random, but the child can tell a story from them.
  • Strings of letters. Some letters are recognizable, and are usually in capitals; a sense of phonics (letter-sound relationship) is developing.
  • Beginning sounds. There is a greater connection between what the child writes and draws to go with it; the child begins noting the difference between a letter and a word; spacing may be irregular.
  • Consonants representing words. Spacing (between words) becomes more regular, and lowercase letters appear; some sentences convey ideas.
  • Initial, middle, and final sounds. Writing makes sense and most of it is legible; spelling of sight words and known names is correct, but that of most other words is phonetic.
  • Transitional phrases. Writing is legible and more spelling is correct; the child begins to write in standard form.
  • Standard spelling. Most spelling is correct; the child begins to understand root words, compound words, and contractions.

Practice question

  1. A first-grade teacher observes that some students are starting to put spaces between words on a consistent basis. In which stage of development is their writing?
    A. strings of letters
    B. consonants represent words
    C. transitional phrases
    D. standard spelling

Answer and explanation

  1. The correct answer is Choice (B).
    At this stage, the spacing between words becomes more regular. Choice (A) is wrong because students are still focused on shaping letters at this stage. Choice (C) is wrong because students have moved beyond the sense of what a word is and how words are spaced to thinking about correct spelling. Choice (D) is wrong because students have, by this final stage, moved on to an understanding of different kinds of words, such as root words, compound words, and contractions.