Daft TES Phonics Screening Check article

(26 Posts)
Feenie Thu 15-Sep-16 20:34:53

www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/phonics-test-does-not-assess-skills-it-supposed-measure-study-finds

Breaking news - a test doesn't include every single.aspect of the curriculum and is therefore only a narrow snapshot of what a child can do. Wow. hmm

Haven't we heard the author spouting this garbage somewhere else.recently?

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Thu 15-Sep-16 23:44:14

I was just coming on to ask about this article. www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-37372542

I have no idea WTF it's on about.

I'm not sure the fact that the PSC doesn't test all the knowledge required by the end of year 1 is exactly a secret. That isn't really it's purpose. But if it's such an issue, then increasing the graphemes tested and the difficulty of the test seems to be the obvious solution, not the completely daft idea of teaching less phonics. Similarly the obvious solution to the mispronouncing graphemes issue would be removing the real words and adding 20 more pseudo words.

I have a feeling Solity probably hasn't read the technical document that goes with PSC. If he had he would know why it only tests those specific graphemes.

He's not the author if the blog linked to the other week though. There's a lot of people still spouting this garbage.

catkind Thu 15-Sep-16 23:54:24

Ha, yeah, I saw this via the BBC today and couldn't believe it was referred to as research. The "argument" appeared to be that phonics screening requires only basic phonics and some vocab knowledge therefore teachers shouldn't bother teaching advanced phonics. Why stop there though? Perhaps we should stop teaching maths too, that doesn't feature in the year 1 phonics screening either.

YouMakeABetterDoorThanAWindow Fri 16-Sep-16 08:49:35

I saw this too and was enraged.

I just know it will turn up in my schools Governor minutes as an explanation for why their low Phonic Check scores don't matter.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 16-Sep-16 09:33:41

The really daft thing is that JS isn't against phonics as the prime approach to teaching reading. He was talking about teaching using phonics during the heyday of the NLS searchlights strategy.

What I think he's probably doing is using the phonics check to back up his theory that you only need to teach 65 graphemes in order for children to be able to access most texts.

It is frustrating that he's about to be used as the posterboy for the people who think phonics is harmful or not important, because he really isn't.

ReallyTired Fri 16-Sep-16 09:57:23

The phonics check isn't meant to be difficult and any English speaking NT child should be able to pass it regardless of intelligence at the first attempt. It's not a big deal and it's a cheap way to screen for children who might be dyslexic. It's what it says in the tin, a phonics check, it's not meant to test reading. Children have a proper reading test in year 2. There is no need for a reading test in year 1.

maizieD Fri 16-Sep-16 10:17:50

Dr Solity is a curious case, I think. Yes, he advocates teaching phonics and the thinking behind his initial programme was very good; being informed by cognitive psychology.

But he has this bee in his bonnet about 'real books' and most of his research seems to be geared towards proving that a) teaching children 100 'sight words' is a Good Idea and that b) they should be reading 'real books' from very early on (if not from the start of instruction).

As most of his research papers are paywalled it is difficult to judge how valid his ideas are. He did do one study which compared his ERR (Early Reading Research) programme with Letters & Sounds and, as I understood it, concluded that their sucess rate was more or less the same, though ERR was superior... I don't recall detail, I'll see if I can find it.

Looking at both the TES & the BBC articles I'd note that most phonics people suggest that there are about 160 - 180 common letter/sound correspondences, not 65 or 85. Yes, it is possible to teach fewer,and for many children to manage to generalise the untaught ones that they encounter but this leaves a significant failure rate among children who need to be taught more correspondences more explicitly. I'd like to see what 'failure' rates are reported in his studies.

In his paper for the DFe 2003 Phonics seminar he suggests that some 3 - 5% of children will still struggle to learn with phonics instruction ( a figure I have seen elsewhwere) but I find it really difficult to believe that his suggested method has such an excellent 'success' rate given his mix of things which many of us have found to be quite toxic.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 16-Sep-16 10:40:55

I see him (phonics with a smattering of sight words) as in the middle of a scale that has multi cuing look and guess strategies at one end and linguistic phonics at the other.

I don't agree with a lot to f things he says but I think he's part of the what is the most effective way to teach phonics debate rather than the should we be using phonics one.

I think I've read the ERR vs L&S paper before. I may have it bookmarked somewhere.

maizieD Fri 16-Sep-16 10:57:58

I found his phonics seminar paper really inspiring in 2004! But he's gone so firmly down the minimal correspondences & 'real books' route since then...

Of course, what is really needed is a good longitudinal RCT study comparing Solity's programme with A.N Other mainstream phonics programme (but not Letters & Sounds, please as it has no resources, though it could be a Control, I suppose). This surely wouldn't be unethical as all sets of children would be getting their DFE mandated phonics instruction. Study to be undertaken by an independent researcher unconnected with any of the programmes...

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 16-Sep-16 13:16:14

Like Jolly Phonics It's probably of it's time. Brilliant compared to what else was around then, but things have moved on and there are better things around. I'd probably still take both over L&S.

I think you'd have to include letters and sounds in an RCT somewhere just because it's used by so many schools.

maizieD Fri 16-Sep-16 13:29:39

As I said, it might be good as a Control. But all the other programmes have resources which L & S just doesn't have; so comparing it directly with Solity's programme might be a confounding variable (hope I have the terminology right, there)

It also occurs to me that ensuring all participants are trained in the respective programmes, so as to remove another possible variable, might be essential, too.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 16-Sep-16 19:19:41

And ensuring that the teachers are sticking to the scheme and not varying from it.

Teaching RWI and sending home look and say books for 'proper' reading shouldn't really count as teaching RWI.

YouMakeABetterDoorThanAWindow Fri 16-Sep-16 21:54:59

As an aside, and while i have the phonics folks here-where do schools get Letters and Sounds from? I've had a look on the gov website and although I found it it wasn't easy, I don't think all the accompanying documents were there either. It was in an archived area. Do schools have access that the public don't? Or do you think schools have an ancient copy?

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 16-Sep-16 22:25:55

I think what's archived is about it for L&S. There may have been a hard copy sent to schools when it came out.

What sort of accompanying documents were you looking for?

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 16-Sep-16 22:38:09

Actually that's part of the problem with it. What you can see is what schools were given and it was put into the hands of teachers who'd had very little, if any, training in phonics and had mostly spent most of their training being taught that good readers use picture/syntactic/semantic cues to decode words.

It was a disaster waiting to happen. Under those circumstances, it should have been good enough for anyone to just pick up off the shelf and use but it wasn't.

maizieD Sat 17-Sep-16 00:01:05

I seem to recall that all primary schools were issued with 5 copies of Letters & Sounds when it was first issued in 2007 or 8 (can't quite remember which). They'll either be in use or stuck in a cupboard somewhere.

Rafa I don't think that any programme should be used without training, even the good ones. To make matters worse with L & S the 'training' was given by the very Local Authority Advisors who had previously been pushing the Searchlights multi-cueing strategy. I believe that they had had some sort of cascaded down 'training' but to expect them to drop all their previous beliefs about how to teach reading and to train people in SSP when they had never taught it themselves (because phonics proponents didn't get to be LA advisors) was more than ludicrous.

No Secretary of State for education and no Schools Ministers have ever taken SSP seriously or even tried to understand it until Nick Gibb came along. In 2006 Ruth Kelly was asserting that 'phonics was at the heart of the NLS' at the same time as the govt was planning to give £10million to Reading Recovery shock How frustrating was it to be given the Rose Report on one hand and Reading Recovery on the other...

Feenie Sat 17-Sep-16 00:25:17

I've already had one encounter on social media regarding this article, with a Reception teacher acquaintance who until now I'd assumed knew what she was talking about.

Unfortunately, I could have played crap teacher bingo with her posts - it was all there. Picture cues, good readers fail the check, enjoyment of reading suffering under phonics, decodable schemes are boring - the lot. So, so depressing sad

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 17-Sep-16 08:38:52

It is ridiculous that all those people who were trying to sneak systematic synthetic phonics into the curriculum before 2006 without the LA advisors finding out were then being trained in phonics by those same advisors.

In an ideal world, I agree about the training, but I'm not sure that was ever likely to happen. I still think the L&S document could have contained a bit more background information that would have helped teachers who hadn't been trained. It might also have prevented some of the myths and misinformation that have sprung up.

maizieD Sat 17-Sep-16 15:06:25

There was a much shorter guidance document in the L & S pack but I don't think many people bothered to read it.

YouMakeABetterDoorThanAWindow Sat 17-Sep-16 16:14:50

Thanks all.

Yes MaizieD, I think it was that I was looking for. The new parent governor at my daughters school is interested in SP and I wanted to show her something from that document. I had a copy but I've lost it and thought it would be easy to find online. The school are very wed to L&S

maizieD Sat 17-Sep-16 20:12:25

Here you are: tinyurl.com/h5b76l8

It took a bit of hunting for!

If my link doesn't work you'll need to search for 'Letters and Sounds, Notes of Guidance for Practitioners and Teachers'. It's 30 pages long.

If you still can't get it but know what precisely you are looking for in it I have a copy. DM me and I could scan the pages you want.

mrz Sun 18-Sep-16 06:26:59

https://issuu.com/etchongkong/docs/note/1

maizieD Sun 18-Sep-16 12:25:44

Even better, mrz! How did you find it?

mrz Sun 18-Sep-16 12:34:17

I had it bookmarked because the archived materials are notoriously unreliable

maizieD Sun 18-Sep-16 12:41:43

It's certainly quite difficult to navigate through the archive to get what you want. I had to find my paper copy and search on the document's name in order to find it. So there's no hope for anyone who lknows that there is a doc. they want to consult but haven't a clue as to what it's called sad

I shall bookmark your link but will probably never need it again grin

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