Year 3 reading standards

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chew8
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Year 3 reading standards

Post by chew8 » Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:33 am

Exactly five years ago, in March 2011, I ran the BAS word-reading test with 92 Year 3 children – the whole year-group in their first year at a junior school. The average chronological age of a Year 3 cohort at this point in the year is typically 8.0; the average word- reading age in March 2011 was 8 years 9 months according to the 1977 norms. I don’t think that this means that the children were above average at reading by 2011 standards, as they had been below average at the start of Y3 according to the up-to-date norms of the Durham Performance Indicators in Primary Schools reading test, which is done by very large numbers of schools. Rather, I think it means that national word-reading standards had risen since 1977 – the standard achieved by children aged 8:9 in 1977 was being achieved by children quite a lot younger in 2011.

I’ve just finished doing the same thing again at the same school at exactly the same time of year. The average word-reading age has come out this time at 9 years 4 months, 7 months higher than that of the 2011 cohort, which was already 9 months higher than the 1977 average for that age-group. This time, I suspect that the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check is what has made the difference.

It’s not just this objective evidence that makes me think that word-reading is better in 2016 than it was in 2011 – I also feel that the children are reading the words more fluently and easily. In 2011, 64% of them got as far as the last 10 words on the test – i.e. had not made 10 consecutive errors before that. This time, the figure was 78%. By the later stages of the test, children are probably encountering words not familiar in their printed or spoken form (e.g. ‘obscure’, ‘nomadic’), and they seem more willing to have a go at decoding these than they have been in the past.

One interesting observation concerned a pair of Spanish-speaking twins who arrived at the school in November speaking virtually no English. Their spoken English is still very limited, but both scored a reading age 8 months above chronological age according to the 1977 norms, and both got as far as the last 10 words, thus doing better in this respect than 22% of their English-speaking classmates. I think they were able to transfer some of what they know about decoding in Spanish to decoding the test words. This would fit in with a general impression I have that where EAL children have been taught good phonics in their own language, they take quite easily to decoding English, despite the greater complexity of the code.

Jenny C.

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: Year 3 reading standards

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:31 pm

Very, very interesting Jenny. Thank you.

You benefit us all with your meticulous approach to sustained record-keeping, detailed scrutiny and observations.

I don't think any of us would be surprised by your findings as we now have systematic phonics in our schools in England where this was definitely not guaranteed provision a decade ago.

We know, however, that we must have such statistics to back up any sense of subjectivity, bias or 'feel good' factor.

chew8
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Re: Year 3 reading standards

Post by chew8 » Thu Mar 24, 2016 11:29 am

I have gut feelings about changes in standards from year to year, but without test results I can't be sure that I'm right, or know how large or small the changes are.

Jenny C.

Elizabeth
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Re: Year 3 reading standards

Post by Elizabeth » Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:14 pm

It is really good to have this data and your analysis, Jenny.

I am convinced that the Phonics Check is doing good. Not only has it ensured more focus on phonics teaching in Reception and Key Stage 1, but in some schools it is changing the culture of how children who struggle are taught.

This is the situation I found in many schools when the Phonics Check was introduced: The Reception and Year 1 class teachers knew which children in their classes struggled with phonics. They thought they were doing the best for these children by putting them in a low-ability group that was taught at the same time as the rest of the class, but separately, usually by a teaching assistant. Both the children and the teaching assistant missed the phonics lessons with the rest of the class. The children were given very little or no extra teaching. As a result, they made slow progress and the gap between them and the other children grew wider.

Now we have the Phonics Check, the children who do not succeed in Year 1 are checked again in Year 2. This means that now more schools are providing extra help for these children, with the aim of making sure they can decode simple words before the end of Year 2.
Elizabeth

chew8
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Re: Year 3 reading standards

Post by chew8 » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:24 am

Update on what I’ve said above about BAS results:

I’ve now run the New Salford Sentence Reading Test with the 76 Y3 children who did the BAS in March. The Salford was standardised in 2011 (i.e. the year before the Y1 phonics check was introduced) and gives both a word-reading/decoding age and a comprehension age. The children have come out well above chronological age on both – 20 months above on word-reading and 22 months above on comprehension, according to my calculations.

The situation is slightly complicated by the fact that the children’s KS1 reading results are a bit above the national average (e.g. 42% had Level 3, as against the national figure of 32%), but my gut feeling is that they are not enough above average to account for the 20 and 22 months mentioned above. If that’s the case, a possible implication is that the Y1 phonics check has made the difference – children are now not only reading words but also comprehending better than they were when the Salford test was standardised in 2011.

Jenny C.

chew8
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Re: Year 3 reading standards

Post by chew8 » Wed Jul 13, 2016 11:51 am

Another update:

Someone with the necessary know-how has now done some analysing of the various bits of Y3 data that I have: the children’s May 2015 Key Stage 1 reading and writing results, the scores they got when I gave them a past Phonics Screening Check (PSC) in October of Y3, and their June 2016 Salford scores for word-reading and comprehension. The PSC scores correlate significantly with everything else.

Something that I haven’t mentioned so far is that I have Salford word-reading and comprehension scores for 21 Y5 children for whom I also have scores on the phonics check done 4 years earlier in Y1. Again, there are significant correlations between decoding in June of Y1 and Salford scores (both word-reading and comprehension) in June of Y5. The correlation between early decoding and later comprehension is particularly interesting.

Jenny C.

Elizabeth
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Re: Year 3 reading standards

Post by Elizabeth » Wed Jul 13, 2016 6:43 pm

Thank you for all this work Jenny. It is interesting and helpful to know that the Phonics Check results correlate with the other measures of success with reading and writing, including reading comprehension.
Elizabeth

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