(DST™) Decoding Skills Test™

By Ellis Richardson, PhD and Barbara DiBenedetto


Provides a diagnostic profile of decoding skills essential to reading comprehension


Children who read at 1st- through 5th-grade levels

Admin Time

15-30 minutes


Three subtests: Basal Vocabulary, Phonic Patterns, and Contextual Decoding


Criterion-referenced scores that relate directly to the reading curriculum

Publish Date



Level B required.
About Qualification Levels

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Product #: W-276


Includes Reusable Presentation Book; 10 Scoring Booklets; Manual


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DST Scoring Booklet (Pack of 10)

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Product #: W-276B

DST Scoring Booklet (Pack of 10)


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Manuals & Resources

DST Presentation Book

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Product #: W-276A

DST Presentation Book



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DST Manual

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Product #: W-276C

DST Manual


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(DST™) Decoding Skills Test™

(DST™) Decoding Skills Test™


The Decoding Skills Test (DST) helps you diagnose and treat specific reading disabilities, including dyslexia. It gives you a clear picture of the processes involved in reading and shows you the particular area in which an individual needs help.

Three Subtests

Designed for children who are reading at first- through fifth-grade levels, the DST provides a diagnostic profile of the decoding skills that are essential to reading comprehension.

  • Subtest I, Basal Vocabulary, measures the ability to recognize words taught in most basal reading programs.
  • Subtest II, Phonic Patterns, assesses the ability to decode words using letter-sound correspondence. The examinee’s response to both real and nonsense words shows you how well he or she can apply known phonic patterns to decode unknown words.
  • Subtest III, Contextual Decoding, presents story passages that correspond to first- through fifth-grade reading levels. It assesses the effect of context on decoding skills. And it measures comprehension, reading rate, and error rate.

A Detailed Diagnostic Profile

Individually administered in 15 to 30 minutes, the DST provides criterion-referenced scores that relate directly to the reading curriculum. These scores give you a variety of useful information, including:

  • Reading achievement level
  • Frustration level
  • Phonic pattern knowledge
  • Phonic decoding deficiencies
  • The effect of context on the child’s word recognition and decoding skills
  • Oral fluency at various reading levels
  • Oral reading errors

Clear Guidelines for Remediation

While the DST can be used for screening, it is primarily diagnostic and prescriptive. The test is especially useful with students already known to have reading difficulties, including dyslexia. Because it detects specific aspects of the reading problem, the DST provides clear treatment guidelines. It helps you form reading groups, make program decisions, and determine appropriate remediation.

Developed under contract with the National Institutes of Health, the DST allows you to identify and treat reading problems—early and accurately.


 “…the DST is a well-designed and useful test.”

         Janet E. Spector, Ph.D.

         Test Critiques, Vol. VII

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