'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Moderators: Debbie Hepplewhite, maizie, Lesley Drake, Susan Godsland

Post Reply
User avatar
Susan Godsland
Administrator
Posts: 4973
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:10 pm
Location: Exeter UK
Contact:

'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by Susan Godsland » Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:15 pm

Ministers have given more details of plans to bring in reading tests for six-year-olds in England.
Teachers will run the tests, which will be based on phonics, where pupils learn the sounds of letters and groups of letters before putting them together.

Pupils in England will take the tests in Year 1 from 2012 and a pilot scheme will start next summer.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11797514
Michael Gove announces reading tests for six-year-olds

Education secretary to introduce a 'light-touch, phonics-based check' to test the reading ability of all year 1 pupils
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/201 ... -year-olds

Naturally, the UKLA are horrified and have put out the following statement:
UKLA Statement on Non-Word Reading Tests

There is a strong possibility that the ‘Reading Test for Six Year Olds’ the Government plans to
bring in will be a non-word reading test.

What is a non-word reading test?

This means a test that presents children with a list of letter strings to pronounce that follow the most
straightforward spelling patterns of English, but are not words in actual use. The idea is to test whether
children can work out the pronunciation of items such as mip, fack, glimp from their spelling.
The United Kingdom Literacy Association has grave reservations about the value of such a test
to inform teachers and parents about their children’s progress in learning to read, for the
following reasons.

1. Tests should reflect what readers do in real life
Young readers of English don’t process every new word one letter at a time. They move between
different sizes of unit1.
• Sometimes they work words out letter by letter,
• sometimes they look at familiar groups of letters, such as ‘all’,
• sometimes they look at whole word patterns, such as ‘little’ or ‘bottle’.

2. Children need to make sense of what they read
• Both the reward and the central purpose of learning to read are to make sense of text.
• There is a real danger that using isolated skills as the sole index of progress leads to children
failing to attend to the meaning of what they are reading2.

3. Non-word tests don’t tell you about children’s progress as readers
• Children who perform poorly on such tests may perform much better on real words3.
• Success on a non-word reading test is not a good predictor of reading for meaning.

4. Phonics is never enough.
Phonics is not enough to teach a child to read English. As well as matching letters to phonemes
(speech sounds), children learning to read English need to:
• recognise patterns of letters such as the ‘all’ in ‘tall’, ‘call’ and ‘ball’
• ‘recognise one-off’ whole words such as ‘was’, ‘the’ and ‘one’.
• search for meaning in the texts they read.

5. Tests shape the way teachers teach
• A compulsory non-word test could steer very many teachers to teach to the test, neglecting
other word attack skills and the essential business of making meaning from text.
While non-word reading tests have had their uses for psychologists investigating limited aspects of
reading, for the reasons stated above, they are not appropriate as tests of progress in learning to read.

UKLA calls on government to reject plans for such a narrow, uninformative and unnecessary test
and opt instead for an evidence-informed approach to teaching and testing children’s reading.

1 Brown and Deavers, (1999) Goswami, U. (2010) A psycholinguistic grain size view of reading acquisition across languages In N.
Brunswick, S. McDougall & P. Mornay-Davies (Eds). The Role of Orthographies in Reading and Spelling. Hove: Psychology Press.
2 Scanlon, D. M., & Sweeney, J. M. (2010). Response to intervention: an overview: New hope for struggling learners. In P. H. Johnston
(Ed.), RTI in Literacy - Responsive and comprehensive. Newark, DE: International Reading Association p.18
3 Walmsley, S. A. (1979). The criterion referenced measurement of an early reading behavior. Reading Research Quarterly p. 597

User avatar
Susan Godsland
Administrator
Posts: 4973
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:10 pm
Location: Exeter UK
Contact:

Re: SP reading test for 6yr.olds to begin in 2012

Post by Susan Godsland » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:18 pm

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/educa ... 41117.html
Mr Gove insisted the tests would be "a light-touch phonics-based check" on whether children had mastered the basics of reading. "It will be impossible to drill for and will be a true gauge of a child's reading skills," he said.

However, John Bangs, visiting professor at London University's Institute of Education, argued money would be best spent instead on ensuring teachers were adequately trained in how to assess children's reading skills. "The trouble with the phonics-based test is that it won't necessarily tell you anything about a child's overall vocabulary or whether they understand what they are reading," he added.

Professor Bangs added it was more important that schemes like the Reading Recovery programme – where pupils struggling to read receive specialist one-to-one tuition – were protected from spending cuts.
:roll:

User avatar
maizie
Administrator
Posts: 3121
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 10:38 pm
Location: N.E England

Re: SP reading test for 6yr.olds to begin in 2012

Post by maizie » Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:00 pm

Prof. Bangs wrote:The trouble with the phonics-based test is that it won't necessarily tell you anything about a child's overall vocabulary or whether they understand what they are reading," he added.
I don't think that Professor Bangs quite understands the purpose of the proposed test...

g.carter
Posts: 1859
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2003 7:41 pm

Re: Decoding tests for 6yr.olds to begin in 2012

Post by g.carter » Fri Nov 26, 2010 8:16 am

The Guardian on 24th November:
Commenting on the proposal for a reading test at six, Philip Parkin, general secretary of the teaching union Voice, said, ‘Although phonics is often the best way to teach children to read effectively, there are some children – particularly those with special needs – for whom phonics is not successful. Not all children learn to read in the same way and the good teacher needs a variety of methods in order to meet the needs of every child.

‘The Government is only "promoting" the use of phonics in schools, yet wants to test all pupils on them.

‘The proposal is for a decoding test for individual words taken out of context – not a reading test, which puts words in to sentences and tests comprehension – so this is a fairly blunt instrument, and any competent teacher would certainly have recognised by then that phonics were not working for certain individual children and would be using other approaches.

‘If the Government genuinely wants to leave teachers to teach, then it shouldn’t prescribe how they should do it.’

JAC
Posts: 517
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:51 am

Re: Decoding tests for 6yr.olds to begin in 2012

Post by JAC » Fri Nov 26, 2010 9:23 am

...and for the child who can't 'do' phonics how do you get all the words into their heads?
There isn't a single progamme I have ever come across, that teaches children how to read words without phonics. These children , I suppose, will have to manage with either not reading at all, learning a number of words by heart that have some social utility( eg DANGER!) , if they do not belong to that other group who have unusually superb memories.

User avatar
Susan Godsland
Administrator
Posts: 4973
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:10 pm
Location: Exeter UK
Contact:

Re: Decoding tests for 6yr.olds to begin in 2012

Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:15 am

This week's TES anti-phonics article:

Is the zort-and-koob reading test for six-year-olds simply too monstrous?

http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6064219
But it has already come under fire from literacy experts
Well, if you cherry-pick your 'literacy experts' what do you expect....

yvonne meyer
Posts: 736
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:58 am
Location: Melbourne Australia

Re: Decoding tests for 6yr.olds to begin in 2012

Post by yvonne meyer » Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:38 pm

UKLA calls on government to reject plans for such a narrow, uninformative and unnecessary test
and opt instead for an evidence-informed approach to teaching and testing children’s reading
.

I had a quick look at the papers that the UKLA list as 'evidence' against a decoding test and, as expected, there is nothing here to support their claim that a single word & non-word test of decoding skills is not in children's best interests.

While it's easy to believe that the writer/s of this UKLA statement are ignorant of the meaning of the term, 'evidence', I feel it is more likely they are employing the Whole Language strategy of 'framing' as advocated by WL guru Brian Cambourne. The 'framing' strategy is to keep presenting misinformation about the issue so that the misinformation is absorbed on a 'subconscious' level, ie, becomes a meme.

The comment I found even more interesting in the UKLA statement is;
(children need to) search for meaning in the texts they read
What differentiates Whole Language from the broader Progressive ideology is the political component which I've seen accurately described as "Marxism without intellect".
Patrick Groff
Whole Language: Emancipatory Pedagogy or Socialist Nonsense?

"...But WL is misunderstood if it is seen as just a method of reading instruction.

... the WL “philosophy” as it is dubbed, views teaching students to read as a prime means to bring about definitive political, social, economic, and cultural changes—of a radically left-wing nature.

The politically active WL teacher uses reading instruction as a convenient vehicle to aid and abet the establishment of socialist goals, policies, values, and ideals. Through bona fide WL reading instruction, students learn how to rise up and challenge “the interests and values of the Anglo, white, middle and upper classes,” Harry Giroux proclaims ...

... The second major argument in the articles for using WL for political purposes concerns the conventional definition of reading ability. The historical conceptualization of reading ability was students’ capacity to comprehend precisely the meanings that authors intended to impart.

It is argued, to the contrary, that teaching reading “should be viewed as socializing children into a particular set of social and cultural practices in particular social settings...

The third prominent argument for employing WL teaching to convey political-economic ideology centers on an attack on standardized reading tests. That assault on those tests is not surprising since they measure how well students comprehend precisely the meanings authors planned to convey and not how well they are “socialized into particular social practices” of a left-wing origin.

The scientifically invalid nature of WL reading instruction has been known since its inception. None of its unique principles or novel practices is corroborated by relevant experimental research findings. Whole language thus defends itself with qualitative (nonnumerical, anecdotal, subjective/impressionistic) research findings. A circular form of verification is adopted. Published reports refer exclusively to one another for confirmation.

... Complimentary accounts of WL thus are notorious for their practice of the propaganda tactic called “stacking the deck.” Any form of evidence that appears to support WL is approvingly displayed. None of the larger bulk of experimental data that finds WL inferior is cited...

http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns ... -nonsense/

yvonne meyer
Posts: 736
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:58 am
Location: Melbourne Australia

Re: Decoding tests for 6yr.olds to begin in 2012

Post by yvonne meyer » Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:57 pm

Whole Language advocates do not have a problem with phonics and will claim, with sincerity, "We have always advocated the teaching of phonics". WL has a problem with direct, explicit and systematic instruction. They believe that children should work phonics out for themselves with the teacher providing only 'guide on the side' instruction.

Of course, systematic, synthetic phonics can only be taught using direct, explicit 'teacher-directed' instruction. The point of the proposed decoding test is to ensure that teachers utilise direct, explicit 'teacher-directed' pedagogy and this is why the WL'ites in the Education Blob will fight tooth and nail against the test.

Phonics is the battle but the war is over teacher-directed vs. child-centred instruction.

B-t-w, the teacher educators that I know in our Ed Schools always 'frame' direct, explicit instruction as 'bullying'.

User avatar
maizie
Administrator
Posts: 3121
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 10:38 pm
Location: N.E England

Re: Decoding tests for 6yr.olds to begin in 2012

Post by maizie » Sat Nov 27, 2010 12:43 am

yvonne meyer wrote: Patrick Goff..... the WL “philosophy” as it is dubbed, views teaching students to read as a prime means to bring about definitive political, social, economic, and cultural changes—of a radically left-wing nature.
In which case WLers are very inept agents for radical left-wing change as their chosen teaching method has very efficiently denied literacy to a large section of the US population :mrgreen:

Mind you, much as I respect Prof. Groff, the Americans are great ones for seeing Reds under the bed in any mildly left of centre initiative...

JAC
Posts: 517
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:51 am

Re: Decoding tests for 6yr.olds to begin in 2012

Post by JAC » Sat Nov 27, 2010 4:26 am

Even though it was 40+ years ago these were the ideas I was given at one of the London University colleges where I did post-graduate teacher training. I don't remember the term 'whole language' but I do remember studying Paolo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
Clearly, as Maizie says, it has not been a successful strategy!

kenm
Posts: 1495
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Berkshire

Re: Decoding tests for 6yr.olds to begin in 2012

Post by kenm » Sat Nov 27, 2010 1:13 pm

maizie wrote:
yvonne meyer wrote: Patrick Goff..... the WL “philosophy” as it is dubbed, views teaching students to read as a prime means to bring about definitive political, social, economic, and cultural changes—of a radically left-wing nature.
In which case WLers are very inept agents for radical left-wing change as their chosen teaching method has very efficiently denied literacy to a large section of the US population :mrgreen:
Following Goff's argument, the aim would not be literacy for the proletariat but their brain-washing into the Marxist point of view, which in practice (Soviet Russia, China, Zimbabwe, etc.) seems to have been mostly used in support of autocracy or oligarchy.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

yvonne meyer
Posts: 736
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:58 am
Location: Melbourne Australia

Re: Decoding tests for 6yr.olds to begin in 2012

Post by yvonne meyer » Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:33 am

My point is not that the Marxists in the Whole Language movement have succeeded/failed to impose their prefered form of government, but that they are still trying, which is why they are fighting back as hard as they can against synthetic phonics and the decoding test.

The UKLA and its 'parent', the International Reading Association (IRA) are Whole Language Umbrella associations. Along with the American Educational Research Association (AERA), they have hundreds of thousands of members all over the world who pay membership fees, as well as obtaining government grants and charitable donations. This money is used to promote their mission, as stated by AERA;
"(to improve) the educational process by encouraging scholarly inquiry related to education and evaluation and by promoting the dissemination and practical application of research results.

AERA is the most prominent international professional organization, with the primary goal of advancing educational research and its practical application."
I've searched the UKLA, IRA and AERA using the search terms 'phonics' and 'decoding'. All I found besides the UKLA anti-decoding test paper already posted is a paper entitled, "Summary Pedagogies for the Poor? Realigning Reading Instruction for Low-Income Students With Scientifically Reading Research" which is an opinion piece in which the author misrepresents the findings of the National Reading Panel, claims that systematic phonics does not assist comprehension, and that teaching systematic phonics along with 'high stakes testing' is not in children's best interests because it creates highly teacher-directed and inflexible classrooms.

These associations create masses of 'research' and write hay bales of opinion pieces which flood teachers and the Education Establishment. Education Ministers, bureaucrats and the media take advice from the office holders of these associations because they have positioned themselves as the 'experts' in education.

The real reading scientists are from areas outside education and their research is easily ignored because it is overwhelmed by the volume that is put out by the AERA/IRA, and the scientists don't engage in lobbying, which the IRA/UKLA spend an inordinate amount of time and money on.

Very few of the general members of these associations are committed Marxists, (they prefered to be called small 'm' marxists or socialists :???: ). However, the agenda is controlled by these few, for example (US) Bill Ayes who is AERA Curriculum Studies Vice President, and (Aust) Brian Cambourne, IRA 'Hall of Fame' recipiant.

The point I am waffling around trying to make is that a 'little' association like the RRF is up against the Goliath of the AERA/IRA and affiliated associations around the world. We are fighting the synthetic phonics battle but the AERA/IRA are trying to outflank us with the 'reading for meaning' subterfuge.

B-t-w, the IRA Development in Europe Committee member for UK is Henrietta Dombey.

Ken,

The 'no explicit teaching of synthetic phonics will lead to marxist government' philosophy has no logic and no intellectual rigour.

For example, a few years ago, our conservative government was re-elected and a University Professor made a speech in which he said that all the students should fail because if everyone thought 'critically' they would not have elected a conservative goverment and that a conservative government had been elected meant that no-one had been taught to think 'critically'.

At this election, the Labor party's education policy was a scheme to buy a book for all new born babies to encourage their parents to read aloud to them.

In the subsequent election, Labor was elected with a 'back to basics' Education policy which indicates that the general public are not as silly as our Ed School Perfessors.

Also, Godfather of Whole Language, Ken Goodman, claims to be following in the footsteps of Noam Chomsky but Chomsky gave Goodman the flick. I strongly believe that Marx would have the same negative reaction to 'marxists' like Ayers and Cambourne.

User avatar
Susan Godsland
Administrator
Posts: 4973
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:10 pm
Location: Exeter UK
Contact:

Re: Decoding tests for 6yr.olds to begin in 2012

Post by Susan Godsland » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:47 pm

Professor Greg Brooks critiques the government’s proposed decoding test for 6 year olds
Professor Greg Brooks, a former President and honorary life member of UKLA, has produced a paper criticising aspects of the governments proposed phonics test for 6 year olds. Professor Brooks’ views are particularly important as his research work is cited in the recent Department for Education White Paper as justification for the test.

Professor Brooks is concerned about the high stakes nature of the test, the resultant complex procedures that would need to be put into place and the limited information about reading progress it would give parents. A positive alternative proposal is suggested.
http://www.ukla.org/download.php?file=/ ... g_test.pdf

User avatar
Susan Godsland
Administrator
Posts: 4973
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:10 pm
Location: Exeter UK
Contact:

Re: Decoding tests for 6yr.olds to begin in 2012

Post by Susan Godsland » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:51 pm

UKLA publishes revised statement on the proposed ‘light touch’ ‘reading’ test for 6 year olds

In the light of the recent governement White Paper and the information it contains regarding the 'light touch' reading test at age 6, the UKLA has updated its statement.

http://www.ukla.org/download.php?file=/ ... _71210.pdf

Derrie Clark
Posts: 1174
Joined: Sun May 01, 2005 8:24 am
Location: Kent

Re: Decoding tests for 6yr.olds to begin in 2012

Post by Derrie Clark » Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:25 pm

. . . teach to the test.
Well, I hope so, given it is a test of skills.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 16 guests