http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11797514Teachers 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.guardian.co.uk/education/201 ... -year-oldsMichael 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
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
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