What is FSF?
First Sound Fluency (FSF) is a brief, direct measure of a student’s fluency in identifying the initial sounds in words. The ability to isolate the first sound in a word is an important phonemic awareness skill that is highly related to reading acquisition and reading achievement (Yopp, 1988). The ability to isolate and identify the first phoneme in a word is an easier skill than segmenting words or manipulating phonemes in words, thus FSF is used as a measure of developing phonemic awareness at the beginning and middle of kindergarten.
Using standardized directions, the assessor says a series of words one at a time to the student and asks the student to say the first sound in the word. On the scoring page, the assessor circles the corresponding sound or group of sounds the student says. Appendix D provides a pronunciation guide for how individual sounds are represented on the FSF measure. Students receive either 2 points for saying the initial phoneme of a word (e.g., saying the /s/ sound as the first sound in the word street) or 1 point for saying the initial consonant blend (e.g., /st/, /str/ in street), consonant plus vowel (e.g., /si/ in sit), or consonant blend plus vowel (e.g., /strea/ in street). A response is scored as correct as long as the student provides any of the correct responses listed for the word. The total score is based on the number of correct 1- and 2-point responses the student says in 1 minute.
Differential scoring for student responses allows young students to receive partial credit for demonstrating beginning skills in phonemic awareness. A student who may not be able to isolate an initial phoneme (e.g., /s/, /t/) would still receive partial credit for providing the first group of sounds in the word, showing emerging understanding that words are made up of sounds. Although partial credit is given, the goal is for the student to be able to correctly say the first phoneme of each word.
To ensure that students understand the task and to maximize the performance of young students who may not have had any prior exposure to instruction in phonemic awareness, three practice items are included. The practice items provide increasing levels of support, including modeling (e.g., “listen to me say...”) and leading the correct response (e.g., “say it with me”). By design, the first two practice items start with the same sound, /m/. In the first practice item, isolation of the /m/ sound at the beginning of a word is modeled. In the second practice item, the student is asked to isolate the beginning sound in a word that also starts with /m/. In the third practice item, the student is asked to generalize the skill of isolating beginning sounds to a word that does not start with /m/.
Essential Early Literacy and Reading Skill
Beginning of kindergarten to middle of kindergarten
2 points for each correct initial phoneme and 1 point for each correct initial consonant blend, consonant plus vowel, or consonant blend plus vowel said by the student in 1 minute
|If the student does not respond within 3 seconds on a word, mark a slash (/) through the zero and say the next word.
Zero points in the first five words
Scoring Rules and Tips
The student receives 2 points for correctly identifying the initial phoneme in isolation and 1 point for identifying the correct initial sounds (consonant blend, consonant plus vowel, or consonant blend plus vowel).
- Mark the corresponding sound or sounds that a student says for a word. A response is scored as correct if the student says any of the responses listed for the word.
- A student receives 2 points by correctly identifying the initial phoneme in a word.
- A student receives 1 point for identifying the correct initial consonant blend, consonant blend plus vowel, or consonant plus vowel in a word.
- Mark the zero on the scoring page for an incorrect response or no response within 3 seconds.
- Mark “sc” over the marked corresponding sounds or group of sounds in the student’s response if the student self-corrects an error within 3 seconds.
For more information please see the Assessment Manual located on the