http://www.tes.co.uk/section/staffroom/ ... id=2096115
There is a lot of defense of children's reading levels in the end of key stage 2 English tests right now.
Quite rightly, teachers and headteachers are saying that children are not 'illiterate' just because they have not achieved level 4 in the end of key stage 2 tests. I agree with this concern.
But what I can see, is that no-one with educational and political authority in the DfES and government is TRANSPARENTLY saying that there are children who might have gained more than a level 3 in reading comprehension and writing had they been taught more fluently in their alphabetic code knowledge and their blending skills at word level.
Level 3 may well be the level of a child's comprehension, but the more a child struggles with reading the text, the less likely we can get an accurate measure of the child's comprehension.
In addition, children who are taught to be more competent and fluent decoders at word level right from the infants are more likely to enjoy reading, they are more likely to have read more books, they are more likely to have engaged more enthusiastically in their literacy education and they are more likely to have developed better writing and comprehension levels than if they were struggling along applying those guessing reading strategies.
The advisability of teachers' teaching is also in question. Teachers are pressurised to include quite sophisticated literacy activities in their curriculum. Many children spend much time trying to undertake these sophisticated activities about comprehension, grammar and genre when those children are not entirely fluent at reading and writing in the first place.
How is a teacher to decide the time balance of his/her curriculum when the main concerns are external pressures re testing and external pressures re delivering the National Literacy Strategy curriculum? The overall outcome is arguably to be more accountable to government pressures and initiatives than to the children themselves.
Not only that, but I would argue that so many teachers are mistrained to use the wrong teaching strategies to teach the wrong reading strategies, that they do not appreciate that children's apparent difficulties with literacy are not 'innate' but that the children could be entirely different in their alphabetic knowledge and reading skills had they been taught differently.
This group of children cannot possibly be working to their full potential and certainly the research on reading is indicating this, and has done for many decades.
How can we mitigate against this ignorance and misunderstanding when Ruth Kelly and Kevan Collins continue to fudge the issues by claiming that the NLS IS evidence-based when it is not?
I would argue, as ever, that accountability is not present at the top of the educational and political tree.
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