How to Analyze Reading Miscues for Missing Correspondences

How to Analyze Reading Miscues for Missing Correspondences

How to Analyze Reading Miscues for Missing Correspondences
Posted on November 1, 2023

Alexander Tse translated this page into Mandarin.

Reading is a process of comprehending the message encoded in printed texts. To get from the printed text to the message requires decoding. In alphabetic writing systems like English, decoding requires knowledge of correspondences between graphemes and phonemes so that a grapheme signals a phoneme. There are about 40 regular vowel correspondences in English. Graphemes can be either single letters or digraphs, by convention written in italics. Digraphs are 2- or 3-letter spellings for phonemes, such as chea, or o_e, which is a divided digraph with a consonant, represented by the blank, between the vowel and a silent e. Phonemes are the articulatory gestures that are elemental in spoken language, by convention written in Roman letters with slash marks (e.g., /m/, /i/, /O/, /er). To avoid diacritical marks, I represent short vowel phonemes with lowercase letters (/i/ as in stick) and long vowels with capitals (/O/ as in smoke).

In assessing oral reading, we call mistakes “miscues” to emphasize that the student is cuing on the wrong thing (e.g., an illustration) or incompletely on the right thing (e.g., using consonants but not the vowel). We can analyze reading miscues to infer a reader’s strategies (e.g., decoding, crosschecking) and to determine missing correspondences. Because beginners learning to read simple texts already use consonants, we are interested in their knowledge of vowel correspondences. Hence, by missing correspondences, I mean one of the 40 or so vowel correspondences that can unlock regular, one-syllable words that the reader is not consistently using. Here I will show how to determine missing correspondences from readers’ miscues, using actual examples of miscues recorded by AU tutors.

Miscues are written with the reader’s attempt over the text word, like a fraction. For example, in reading the sentence “The pig hits it,” Dalericus read “The pig has it.” We would write the miscue:


The basic procedure for identifying missing correspondences is to analyze the text word (here, hits) to see which correspondence wasn’t used in the attempt. Dalericus used the boundary consonants h and s, but not the vowel i. The missing vowel correspondence is i = /i/.

Sometimes, readers will make multiple attempts. We record each of them, separating the attempts with dashes. For example, Aden read “Jane can not stay” as “Jane can not sit . . . sat.” We would write this miscue:


Here the missing correspondence is ay = /A/, the vowel in stay not used in either of Aden’s attempts.

We analyze even self-corrected miscues for missing correspondences because the reader has used context to crosscheck and self-correct rather than relying solely on spellings. For example, Jack read “The mice sit in a line” as “The mice sit in a lean, no, line.” He recognized that lean didn’t make sense in his reading and thought of a sound-alike word, line, that made sense. We would write his miscue using SC for self-corrected:


Jack used the consonants, but missed the vowel, i_e = /I/ (the divided digraph i_e, with the blank representing a consonant, and the capital I representing the long vowel phoneme). Though Jack arrived at a correct reading, he got there by crosschecking, which suggests he has not consolidated his learning of i_e = /I/, one of the 40 or so reliable vowels in English.

In analyzing miscues, we generally ignore the consonants under the assumption that beginners know most of them but are missing the vowels necessary for full alphabetic decoding. However, some consonant problems are worth noting, especially with the confusable consonants bdp, and q. For example, Sydney read the sentence, “Sid is a big kid” as “Sid is a dig kid.” Her miscue could be written:


We can infer that she is confusing the letters b and d, but also that she has probably not consolidated her knowledge of the vowel correspondence i = /i/. Reading resources are limited, and if a beginner is working hard at getting the vowel, he or she may not have enough resources left over to manage recognizing the consonants and blending the entire phoneme sequence. Sydney’s tutor worked on b and d in guided printing practice, but continued instruction and practice with i =  /i/. In general, even if the vowel is correct in a miscue, we list it as missing when the student has not read the word correctly.

Sometimes students make miscues on irregular words, such as oftosaid, and what. These miscues should be noted, but we cannot determine missing correspondences from irregular words.

PRACTICE #1. Write miscue notes for these readings by Dalericus, and list his missing correspondences.

Text: Liz gets it in her mitt. Reading: Liz grabs it in her mitt.
Text: She hits it. Reading: Said has it.
Text: Liz and the pig did a jig. Reading: Liz and the pig bed . . . dread . . . and jan.

[Scroll down for answers.]

PRACTICE #2. Write miscue notes for these reading by Aden, and list his missing correspondences.

Text: Babe stays in his cage. Reading: Babe sits in his cake.
Text: The cage has a gate. Reading: The cage has a gat . . . get.
Text: Babe is big, but he is tame. Reading: Babe is big, but he is time . . . tim.
Text: She gets in the cage. Reading: She gats in the cage.
Text: It fails to wake Babe. Reading: It fell to wake Babe.
Text: Babe wins the race to the pail. Reading: Babe wins the race to the pal.

[Scroll down for answers.]

PRACTICE #3. Write miscue notes for Jack, and list his missing correspondences.

Text: She takes a nice bike ride. Reading: She tack a nick bike ride.
Text: It is time to eat. Reading: It is time to et.
Text: What can be white in the vines? Reading: What can be what in the vines?
Text: Di sees mice! Reading: Di sees mike!
Text: “Hi, mice!” Reading: “Hey, mice!”
Text: The mice sit in a line. Reading: The mice sit in a lean . . . line.
Text: The mice eat rice and peas. Reading: The mice eat rick . . . rice and pies.
Text: What a nice bike ride! Reading: White a nice bike ride!

[Scroll down for answers.]

Answers to Practice #1.
Miscues and missing correspondences:


e = /e/




a = /a/


i = /i/


i = /i/

Answers to Practice #2.

Miscues and missing correspondences:

sits/stays ay = /A/gat-get/gate a_e = /A/time-tim/tame a_e = /A/gats/gets e = /e/fell/fails ai = /A/pal/pail ai = /A/

Answers to Practice #3.

Miscues and missing correspondences:

tack/takes a_e = /A/nick/nice i_e = /I/
c(e) = /s/et/eat ea = /E/what/white i_e = /I/mike/mice i_e = /I/
c(e) = /s/hey/hi irregularlean-SC/line i_e = /I/rick-SC/rice i_e = /I/
c(e) = /s/pies/peas ea = /E/white/what irregular

Get in Touch With The Reading Genie

Have questions, need assistance, or want to explore the world of decodable stories with us? Fill out the form below, and we'll be delighted to assist you on your reading journey! And we'll get back to you soon

Get in Touch

Send us an email

[email protected]
Follow Us