THE LORD PRIOR asked Her Majesty’s Government:
whether the materials used to support the Early Literacy Support were tested on representative samples of matched experimental and control children with pre and post testing carried out using standardised tests before their introduction; and whether the results of any such tests will be made available to the public.
The Early Literacy Support Programme, which is based on the teaching objectives in
the National Literacy Strategy Framework for teaching, was piloted during 2000-01 in about 1000 Year 1 classes in 50 local education authorities. The pilot was monitored by OFSTED, who reported that:
“In general, the quality of teaching was good in the Year 1 lessons observed in the vast majority of schools. Pupils’ responses to the intervention sessions were overwhelmingly positive. Teachers observed marked gains in pupils’ confidence and willingness to contribute within the Literacy Hour.”
No experimental and control groups or standardised tests were used as part of the pilot.
Surely objective testing should be standard practice? We have yet to have a satisfactory explanation of why the DfES chose to test on a massive scale and yet with no control and comparison groups and no use of standardised reading tests. Some people have described me as unprofessional for writing the facts as I understand them, but can those same people defend this testing as good and accountable educational practice?
I hope that readers understand the enormous implications of this situation. Whereas LEAs are describing their current reading results as excellent if they reach the figure of 85% of children attaining level 2 or above at the end of key stage 1 tests, the RRF is describing how that figure should be virtually 100%. This is no small difference and our challenge to current thinking is of a very serious nature. Yet even in light of this evidenced challenge to current NLS advice, the DfES fails to conduct its tests scientifically. Why?