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

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Susan Godsland
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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by Susan Godsland » Mon Jul 25, 2011 12:49 pm

Article by Wendy Ellyatt, editor of the OpenEYE Campaign newsletter, for the Early Years Educator magazine:

http://library.constantcontact.com/down ... e+2011.pdf

''The government’s desire to impose a standalone, context-free reading test in Year 1 goes against
the advice of much of the sector, and threatens to undermine pedagogical diversity and creativity''

Also, Open EYE have a book due out in the Autumn:

TOO MUCH-TOO SOON?

A wonderful array of early years experts and supporters have come together to produce the first OpenEYE book. There will be contributions from (amongst others) Lilian Katz, David Elkind, Steve Biddulph, Tricia David, Aric Sigman, Sally Goddard-Blythe, Penelope Leach, Sebastian Suggate, Hillevi Lenz Taguchi, MPs Barry Sheerman and Annette Brooke and members of the OpenEYE Campaign group.

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

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:28 pm

Interestingly - for a long time there have been signs that Barry Sheerman and Annette Brooke have not been supportive of our work. I haven't read what they have said, yet, but I won't be surprised by any negativity/opposition!

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

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:42 pm

I've just read Wendy's opinion piece and find it illogical throughout.

Children's apparent waning interest in reading could reflect a number of 'signs of our time' - including that so many of them are not able to read well, independently!

I continue to be incredulous that so many 'experts' just don't seem to get it, that fundamentally important (and not an optional approach) should be the teaching or our language's 'alphabetic code'.

I also find it really difficult to understand how 'experts' can consider that children undertaking a quick word-reading test at age 6, which is repeated at a later date, is a sign of their 'failure'. How would a child think like this other than the teacher has conveyed such an idea?

Children will be frequently reading words at 'word level' as part of their basic skills diet. As they are introduced to new letter/s-sound correspondences, they should routinely be provided with words to apply the alphabetic code and blend the sounds to read the words. Equally, they should be provided with word-level work for spelling purposes - hear the word, identify the sounds all-through-the-word, select/write graphemes to spell the word.

Further, why are all the people in these various organisations so up in arms about such a simple idea as word-level screening checks? They weren't up in arms about children being tested in extremely higher-level notions at the ages of six and seven.

I am referring to the end of Year Two national assessments - which are still 'informed' by testing. These tests/assessments include genre writing, written comprehension activities and discussions about favourite authors and understanding of texts.

Shouldn't children walk before they are expected to run?

Further, the end of key stage one assessments (previously tests) have been given a very high-profile for a long time and this, indeed, has pressurised teachers, pupils and their parents.

But where was the outcry then?

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

Post by Peter Warner » Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:05 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:

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...
With respect, Maizie, Professor Groff and others are well aware of the history and background of the progressive education movement (think John Dewey et all), and are fully justified in sensing the elements of a radical left-wing element at work within that movement. Samuel Blumenfeld for one has documented some of that history. People like Bill Ayers have violent tendencies and radical agendas. Putting a capital 'R' on 'Reds' does not transform Marxists into into harmless eccentrics, or make their fellow-travelers somehow respectable.

Sincerely, Peter Warner.
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English in Japan
[url]http://www.english-in-japan.com[/url]

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Proverbs 9:10

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

Post by JIM CURRAN » Sat Aug 20, 2011 9:21 am

As Sue Lloyd has pointed out on numerous occasions even with good synthetic phonics teaching there will still be a number of beginning readers in the class who just don’t seem to catch on and if instead of good synthetic phonics they are taught to read by using the ever popular multi- cueing strategies then the problem becomes even more acute. From my own experience of working with primary school children I have become more convinced that either schools don’t know what to do with these children or if some do know what to do, they simply are unable to do what they need to because the system within the school is unable to accommodate these children and the problem is passed on from class to class and these children get further and further behind.

I’m very much in favour of a phonics check at the end of year one but experienced beginning reading teachers generally know within the first few months who the strugglers are. The biggest problem for me has always been what happens in real classrooms once the strugglers have been picked up?

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

Post by JIM CURRAN » Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:00 am

NAHT response to phonics screening check.

Government response to phonics pilot contains a few nonsense syllables of its own, say school leaders


The introduction of a new phonics screen for six year olds will distort teaching and work against children who learn to read in different ways, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said today (16 September 2011).

In shocking findings, fewer than half of those who piloted the test said it told them anything new about their pupils. The test will cost millions of pounds a year to administer while reading recovery schemes - a proven method - face cut backs across the country.

The test, to judge children’s progress in learning synthetic phonics, is expected to be introduced in summer 2012.

But while the Department for Education is keen to point out that the test is just a progress check, the NAHT believes such a high profile test will strong-arm teachers into over-focusing on phonics at the expense of those who would benefit from other approaches. It's happened time and again: introduce a test and things that aren't tested get neglected.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “It’s astonishing that the government believes the pilot for this test has been a success when around half of the teachers who took part said they believed it discriminated against pupils with special needs and 60 per cent said they believed the pseudo words were confusing.


“Phonics is an important way of helping children to learn to read but it is not universally effective and it is not the only skill required. The distortion of attention through a high profile national test however, will also distort teaching and get in the way of teachers being able to use their professionalism and skill to judge what is best for each child.

“Schools already have more effective and comprehensive processes in place to evaluate early reading and inform parents. For most, this test will be a dumbing down of early literacy in pursuit of a fixation with synthetic phonics. “


http://www.naht.org.uk/welcome/comment/ ... ?locale=en


Page Published: 16/09/2011

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

Post by kenm » Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:05 am

I think I see two elephants:

1) Gove wants to detect ineffective teachers and teaching methods;

2) The unions don't want ineffective teachers to be detected.
"... 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

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

Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:43 am

The resistance continues:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/educa ... 76875.html
In a letter to the Education Secretary Michael Gove, they and teachers' leaders – who include Professor Robin Alexander, the Cambridge don who three years ago headed the most thorough investigation into primary schooling in the past 40 years – say the Government has misinterpreted the findings of a pilot of the test.

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

Post by chew8 » Fri Oct 28, 2011 12:34 pm

I've had some experience of observing the pre-trial version of the screening check and administering it myself - see the text of my conference breakout talk, which is now on the RRF website.

For what it's worth, I did not find that 'bright youngsters were flummoxed by the unreal words because they suspected something was wrong'. This wasn't because 'my' children had had a lot of practice with non-words - they hadn't. When I gave the pre-trial version to Year 1 children with whom I'd worked voluntarily for 12+ months and whose reading ability I therefore knew quite well, those who were fluent and accurate text-readers got high scores (35+ out of 40) and those who were struggling with text-reading got scores below 20.

The pre-trial was done with Y2 children last November-December. In January I gave that version to 30 Y2 children with whom I had not worked voluntarily and whose text-reading ability I did not know. I now have the Key Stage 1 reading results of 7 of them, however, and hope to get a few more results soon. 3 of the 7 had Level 3 for reading at KS1 and their screening-check scores ranged from 33-39 out of 40. 3 had Level 2A - their screening-check scores were 32, 32 and 22. One had Level 2B - screening-check score 17. The KS1 reading assessment is much closer to the sort of assessment that Prof. Alexander and the UKLA would like, but the few results I have suggest that there is a good match between these and the children's screening-check scores.

Jenny C.

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

Post by maizie » Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:09 pm

I wonder if the text of their letter is on-line anywhere (I've looked in vain on the UKLA website). They must have sent a press release out; I can't even see that.

From the evaluation of the Phonics check:
Teachers who found the inclusion of pseudowords to be a suitable aspect of the Check were more likely to state that they 'always encourage pupils to use phonics as the strategy to decode unfamiliar phonically regular words' as part of their phonics strategy. Conversely those schools who use a range of cueing systems, such as context or picture clues, as well as phonics were less likely to find the Check suitable in relation to the use of pseudowords.
Speaks volumes, I think...

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

Post by chew8 » Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:02 pm

Re. the Sheffield Hallam evaluation as quoted above by Maizie:

I suppose the mixed-methods schools which found the screening check less suitable might say that their children are better at 'real' reading than children who rely on phonics for word-identification. If the KS1 assessment tests 'real' reading, however, and if the few results I have are typical, then it seems that the children who are best at decoding are also the best at 'real' reading. I've never had any doubt about this on the basis of my subjective impressions, but it would be nice to have some facts and figures.

Jenny C.

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

Post by Susan Godsland » Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:40 am

I wonder if the text of their letter is on-line anywhere (I've looked in vain on the UKLA website)
It's now available on the UKLA website:
http://www.ukla.org/news/latest_news_on ... year_olds/

Letter to Secretary of State for Education

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

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

Post by Susan Godsland » Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:13 pm

John Walker blogs about the opposition to the phonics reading check:

http://literacyblog.blogspot.com/2011/1 ... rinch.html

Please Miss, what's a Grinch?
The opposition to the tests is in truth an attack on the government’s determination to tackle the scandalous problem of illiteracy in this country by making sure that children are taught phonics by the age of five. However, the focus of the attack is on the ‘pseudo words’ or the words that are not really words in the English language (yet anyway!) which comprise one part of the reading test.

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

Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:03 pm

More from John Walker -this time with a short video clip:

Red faces at UKLA as Scarlett reads and spells non-words
http://literacyblog.blogspot.com/2011/1 ... s-and.html

http://vimeo.com/31894110

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

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:52 pm

What a fantastic, little video.

See the ease with which Scarlett blends the non-words all-through-the-word and can segment (spell) the non-words - with zero experience of the words beforehand.

No 'Look, cover, write, check' and no prior whole-word learning.

Note that all the sounds are 'discrete' whether for reading or spelling - no consonant clusters taught as if they are a 'unit'.

Well done, John and Scarlett and Scarlett's teacher! ;-)

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