Phonics assessment concerns

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literacy assessment

literacy assessment

All children are to be given a formal phonics check at six years old. This is in line with the education policy as decided by the new Conservative Government.

The results of the check will be used as a baseline to identify necessary intervention and track progress. If you want the best for your pupils then it is important that their first educational statistics are positive.

  • Do you know your pupils’s reading age or standardised literacy score ?
  • Do you know how your children compare nationally ?
  • Do you need materials matched exactly to their literacy ability ?
  • Do you need evidence of progress ?
  • Are you concerned that your pupils might be dyslexic ?
  • Is your school’s data accurate ?

Standardised assessments will compare your children’s performance to that of children throughout the country and provide you with an accurate reading age and a standardised score in an easily understandable format. In addition you will gain a valuable insight into your children’s literacy progress with charts to show their improvement.

Tips for teachers

Here are a range of useful tips to help you foster a love of reading in your school :

  1. Regularly read aloud a variety of texts that are suitable for the age and ability of your readers.
  2. Provide opportunities for pupils to discuss and debate different types of texts (eg instructional, fictional, informative) in order to develop a community of readers.
  3. Help students locate books that interest and motivate them and encourage them to share the book choices with other readers.
  4. Put in place regular groupwork that involves specific teaching of texts designed to engage pupils to read.
  5. Ensure pupils have access to age-related, interesting books in the classroom and the school library.
  6. Be aware that reading in teenage pupils may not be considered a “cool” activity and teachers need to use positive peer pressure to foster a culture that it is acceptable to read.
  7. Assess literacy ability on a regular basis to identify pupils who need support and implement literacy intervention strategies as appropriate.

Ballot underway

The NUT (National Union of Teachers) have announced that have voted to ballot for action over the new phonics check. This assessment is a Government initiative designed to measure the reading ability of children at a young age. The NUT say that the test will risk making failures of five year olds at the earliest stage of their formal education.

The NUT ran a survey and found that 9/10 of the respondents thought that there would be little educational worth in performing the test. The unions biggest fear is that the results of the phonics test will be used by the DFES to produce league tables or by Ofsted during inspections. The DFES says: “Standards of reading need to rise. At the moment around one in six children leaves primary school unable to read to the level we expect. The new check is based on synthetic phonics, a method internationally proven to get results.”

Assessing phonics

The new phonics assessment is designed as a baseline check for all year 1 pupils in primary schools in England. But will it work ? In the pilot over 2/3 of the pupils who participated failed to reach the required standard. Here is one way to ensure that pupils are prepared for the new phonics test :