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The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) is a research based screening, diagnostic, and progress monitoring tool. Wisconsin teachers use PALS to identify students at risk of developing reading difficulties, diagnose students' knowledge of literacy fundamentals, monitor progress, and plan instruction that targets students' needs. Student data collected from PALS provides a direct means of matching literacy instruction to specific literacy needs.


Wis. Stats. 118.016 requires an early literacy screener to be administered to all 4-year-old kindergarten through 2nd grade students enrolled in public school districts and charter schools. The statute also requires each school to report the screening results to the parents or guardian of each student and to provide interventions or remedial reading services to each student that is identified as being at risk of reading difficulty. Beginning in 2012, Stoughton Area School District began using PALS as the literacy screener for 4-year-old kindergarten and 5-year-old kindergarten students.

PALS assessments align with both the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English and Language Arts, and with the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (WMELS). The tasks on PALS are representative of the understandings, knowledge, and skills outlined in both CCSS-ELA and WMELS.

Stoughton uses two of the main PALS assessments currently being used in Wisconsin Public Schools:

  • PALS-PreK: Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening for Preschool measures:
    • Name Writing
    • Alphabet Knowledge
    • Beginning Sound Awareness
    • Print and Word Awareness
    • Rhyme Awareness
    • Nursery Rhyme Awareness
  • PALS-K: Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening for Kindergarten measures:
    • Phonological awareness
    • Alphabet knowledge
    • Knowledge of letter sounds
    • Spelling Concept of Word
    • Word recognition in isolation


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