Reading Tests

(93 Posts)
MrsGWay Thu 04-Apr-13 14:45:36

I am trying to decipher what we were told at my daughter's parents evening. Her reading ability had been tested and she is beyond the reading scheme, despite bringing home turquoise level books. She needs to work on her expression (very true) but finds the books terribly boring. In fact she is a reluctant reader.
Apparently in the test she only got 10 words wrong which gave her a score of 30. Does anybody know which test this might be?

Periwinkle007 Thu 04-Apr-13 15:10:13

There are a few reading tests. Am trying to remember the 2 I have come across in my mum's old teaching stuff, Burt reading test is one

can't think of the name of the other. sounds more like Burt because that one is just random words, the other one I have seen is sentences.

Periwinkle007 Thu 04-Apr-13 15:11:51

I don't think they test reception children usually. According to the Burts test my daughter had a reading age of 7.5 when she started reception. We got her to read the words out of curiosity. She is currently on Level 8 (purple) books at school but reads harder at home.

Periwinkle007 Thu 04-Apr-13 15:13:36

nope can't be burt because that has a lot more than 40 words on it. sorry, didn't read that bit.

MrsGWay Thu 04-Apr-13 15:20:20

Thanks for your replies. I asked my daughter and she said it wasn't like that. Also 30 would give a reading age of 6.9 which can't be beyond the reading scheme can it?

MrsGWay Thu 04-Apr-13 15:21:53

I don't think she got 30/40, another boy in the class got 3 wrong but was told this was out of 400 words.

mrz Thu 04-Apr-13 15:27:33

Can she tell you what the test looked like as there are dozens of possibilities

MrsGWay Thu 04-Apr-13 15:39:40

Sorry no, she says she wasn't tested like her teacher described at all! Which is a bit strange as she told me about the comprehension tests she did.
I think I will just ask her teacher after the holidays. I know they are planning to assess her reading group again.

Periwinkle007 Thu 04-Apr-13 15:47:29

I love how children never tell us what actually happens at school or have a completely different interpretation of something. Perhaps the school didn't do it all in one go so she wasn't that aware she was being tested?

no 6.9 wouldn't be beyond the reading scheme. our school seems to go 'off scheme' after book band 11ish which I THINK is around Yr 3 ages so I would expect to be beyond the scheme you would be looking at a reading age of 9+.

400 words is an enormous number to test them all on.

MrsGWay Thu 04-Apr-13 15:57:23

A few in her class (Y1) had extra tests. I must say that after parents evening I certainly appreciated how much work the teachers have to do!
I also didn't realise there were so many different tests, I thought they might be pretty much standardised.

mrz Thu 04-Apr-13 16:04:12

Could it be a practise for the phonic screen check? That gives a score out of 40 but not a reading age.

simpson Fri 05-Apr-13 16:23:00

I was thinking phonics test too.

Ask her if the words were real?

ipadquietly Fri 05-Apr-13 17:57:21

Are people really practising for the phonics check? shock

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 18:05:16

I'm afraid so and they will still claim their best readers failed because of non words

simpson Fri 05-Apr-13 18:14:48

The yr1s were practising last week...

But I think they were being assessed in everything (not just the phonics test).

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 18:30:31

I teach Y1 and don't plan to practice for the check

Periwinkle007 Fri 05-Apr-13 19:19:06

is there not an element of truth though in the best readers failing because of non words? I mean it is natural to want to make sense of a word. I would if I was reading and would be more likely to think it was misspelt than an alien word

simpson Fri 05-Apr-13 19:29:56

Hardly any kids passed it last year, and this includes the "best readers"

If a child comes across a word they have never met before then it is an "alien word" to them. I also don't think they have to make sense of the words in a phonics test as they are not reading sentences iyswim (so not tested on comprehension) just decoding.

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 19:42:03

Put it this way periwinkle all our best readers (gold level and above -chapter book readers) scored 40/40 in last years check
simpson I know schools that 100% pass rate

Periwinkle007 Fri 05-Apr-13 19:44:52

yes but I know with my daughter she just 'expects' things to make sense. having said that if she was told some of them wouldn't make sense and she just had to read silly words then she would probably do it ok but I can see why some kids wouldn't.

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 19:45:53

In life we meet non words everyday

simpson Fri 05-Apr-13 19:46:51

My DC school seem to had a real drive on how phonics is taught (no non decodable books till yr2) which is totally different to how DS (now yr3) was taught to read.

I assume this is because up to now results have not been great (well last years results only).

Mrz - do you know if a child can take the test early? I have been told no (although it was the school that initially suggested DD take it this year. Maybe LEA might have said its no go).

Periwinkle007 Fri 05-Apr-13 19:47:47

perhaps their teachers didn't explain it well enough to the good readers then that it included words that wouldn't make sense.

My daughter did some phonics testing the other week at school (in reception) and she said there were some funny alien words in it. I know they were testing the children having taught 44 or however many phase phonic sound things to see which children were confident so they know which ones need to work on which ones next term so I assume it was all part of that, either using the year 1 test or their own version using similar ideas. she thought it was great fun and she certainly thought she had got them all right from what the TA had said to her.

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 19:47:59

would she read spilt as split? or would she read what is there?

Periwinkle007 Fri 05-Apr-13 19:51:37

I suppose yes we do meet words we don't know every day, hadn't really thought of it like that. But I wouldn't care if I mispronounced cif and said it as kiff rather than siff. in fact I might be wrong thinking it is pronounced siff. I don't know.

I find it a bit of a strange test really but then I find a lot of education concepts a bit odd at times, they go in fashions don't they and after however many years of poor teachers suffering one and trying to make it work they change it to another one and start all over again.

at the end of the day phonics works, or should do but it isn't the only part of reading so is a test like this showing anything?

Periwinkle007 Fri 05-Apr-13 19:54:49

she would pick one or the other based on the rest of the sentence if it was in one. like whether you say tear or tear, you have to make a judgement based on the information you have, you don't think about it you just do it.

if it was just in a list of words then depends on her mood probably if I am honest. she would know both words and could read either but is a child more likely to make a careless mistake with that due to speed

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 19:55:51

I administered the test Periwinkle and the instructions were very clear

The following text provides an example of how you could introduce the check.
• In this activity, I am going to ask you to read some words aloud.
• You may have seen some of the words before and others will be new to you.
• You should try to read each word but don’t worry if you can’t. If it helps you, you may sound out the letters before trying to say the word.

• This practice sheet shows you what the words will look like.
• Have a go at reading out loud these four words which you should have come across before [at, in, beg and sum].

• The words on this side [turn over practice sheet] are not real words. They are names for types of imaginary creatures. You can see a picture of the creature next to each word.

• Can you read out the words on this page for me [ot, vap, osk and ect]?

• Ok, now we are going to start reading out the words in this booklet and I’m going to write down what you say on my sheet.

• In this booklet there are four words on each page. I will tell you at the start of each page whether they are real words that you may have seen before or words for imaginary creatures.

The first page has words for imaginary creatures and you can see their pictures.

• Can you start reading the words to me?

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 19:58:03

She doesn't have to be quick and she can make as many attempts as she wants.

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 19:59:34

and for the pseudo words phonically plausible attempts are acceptable

sunnyday123 Fri 05-Apr-13 20:00:19

I agree with periwinkle. My dd is in year 2 and in the top reading set in her class and didnt pass the phonic test in y1 dispute reading much harder books than her friends with much more confidence. She also being submitted for the higher sats papers for reading etc so I'm pleased with her progress.

Her teacher at the time said it was a waste of time and none of the results showed any relation to the way they work in class. So much so they have decided to completely change the way they do it this year. (Last year the teacher said they we not allowed to give instructions etc so not sure if it had more to do with how they handled the test?)

sunnyday123 Fri 05-Apr-13 20:03:29

Looking at those instructions, they sound pretty clear so I'm wandering if our school didnt even explain them....? My dd can read words out like that fine so I think may be our school recognised they did something wrong if they now say they'll do something different next time.

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 20:04:26

Oh dear!

Periwinkle007 Fri 05-Apr-13 20:08:45

yes with those instructions there shouldn't be any problem (assuming a child can follow instructions of course...)

without the instructions or with them not being properly explained to each child at the time then I can imagine all sorts of problems.

mind you will always get a child (often a bright one) who will decide that it is a pointless exercise and not play along. I have always tried to tell my daughter that she just has to humour the teacher (when she refuses to read a book they have sent home or something because she says it is rubbish, it doesn't have punctuation - well she was right - it didn't, when it was grammatically incorrect -yep right again) and do what they ask her even if she doesn't agree with it.

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 20:11:22

The instructions are repeated every 4 words Periwinkle

Periwinkle007 Fri 05-Apr-13 20:23:09

ah well in that case you are just hoping for non stroppiness then

how have so many failed it in the past then? it doesn't make sense

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 20:27:20

If the child isn't cooperating you can give them a break or try again another day

Periwinkle007 Fri 05-Apr-13 20:34:51

it really doesn't make sense then that so many schools haven't done well. I have no idea how my daughters school have done and I am not very bothered, so long as she cooperates next year when they want her to do it as I don't want her to be stroppy and difficult (I apparently went through a patch of pointing out to my teacher she was wrong when I was 6, sadly for her I was correct and she did admit that to my parents but she didn't appreciate me telling her obviously and I really don't want my daughter to be difficult)

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 20:37:00

no it doesn't make sense ... but then lots of schools thought the children were good readers when really they were just good guessers

Periwinkle007 Fri 05-Apr-13 20:41:24

did anyone correlate the results of the decoding with say just a reading test type activity. one with just a list of real words, not sentences. I mean yes you could still get some guessing with it but it would be interesting to know.

DeWe Fri 05-Apr-13 20:50:22

You repeat all those instructions every 4 words?

It must take longer repeating those instructions than doing the test.

I think by the third time you said all that ds's reply to the question at the end ("Can you start reading the words to me?") would be "no" because he'd be bored and want to finish it, and would see that as being the quickest way.

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 20:54:34

No you repeat the words on this page are real words you may have seen before or alternatively the words on this page are the names of imaginary creatures

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 20:54:50

the whole test takes about 5 mins

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 20:56:28

there are four words per A4 page

simpson Fri 05-Apr-13 21:23:35

DD did the practice test at the end of nursery (although over 4 days - 10 words per day as she was only 3) and got 30/40.

She did last years test in one go at the very beginning of reception ( to assess her phonics knowledge as its hard to work out as she does not sound words out aloud any more) and got them all right.

She was told that some Alice's wanted to communicate with her but some of the words would not make sense iyswim.

However, she seems to follow instructions well and school ( saves the bad behaviour for a home!!)

simpson Fri 05-Apr-13 21:24:52

Ahhh aliens iPad predicting words!!! blush

Runoutofideas Fri 05-Apr-13 21:35:26

My yr1 dd came home at the end of term talking about "pseudo words". Now I know what she was on about! The teacher has clearly been explaining it to the class, and showing them examples in advance. Is that not just "teaching to the test"?

simpson Fri 05-Apr-13 21:41:02

In the reception class I help in (not in my DC school) they use RWI and are already learning "real" words and "silly" words.

Periwinkle007 Fri 05-Apr-13 21:52:41

its like everything else isn't it, they will inevitably teach to the test from the point of view of wanting the children to be well prepared. If children are going to do an 11+ and have never done verbal reasoning before then they would teach to the test with something like that, GCSE coursework requires a certain style which students must learn to work to in order to do well so I guess it is all teaching to a test in a way.

mrz Fri 05-Apr-13 22:11:18

Is it teaching to the test to teach a child the skills they need to be efficient readers?

Periwinkle007 Fri 05-Apr-13 22:17:28

no because that is the whole point but if schools are making the children practice them and focusing on silly words then it becomes debatable whether that is teaching them the skills or not. Ok yes the skills include being able to read silly words but still I can see it is a fine line.

simpson Fri 05-Apr-13 22:22:12

I have to say I am not sure I agree.

The first time a child reads a word it is a silly word to them. DD read the word "scornfully" today but did not know what it meant. So to her it's a "silly" word iyswim.

Periwinkle007 Fri 05-Apr-13 22:33:14

true but it does have sounds which are familiar, fully is a regular ending of a word, ly is a regular ending even without the full. scorn would be odd but some of the alien words are just a bit too odd I think. don't know. We had similar with Prime Minister today.

simpson Fri 05-Apr-13 22:37:44

But I think a lot of the words in the phonics test will be sounds a child is (hopefully) familiar with.

It is only because the are learning/have learnt that words have meaning iyswim.

simpson Fri 05-Apr-13 22:38:21


Periwinkle007 Fri 05-Apr-13 22:41:13

yes I see what you mean

I just can't see why such a test is really needed grin)

MrsGWay Fri 05-Apr-13 22:54:48

Sorry to go off topic, but it definitely was not the phonics test. However it is interesting to note that the best and fastest reader in my daughter's class is actually in the lowest phonics group.
She now says that she remembers having to read a long book and answering questions at the end of each page.

simpson Fri 05-Apr-13 23:02:51

I do agree on why a test is needed....surely if a school is doing their job correctly then it is not needed. However, sadly many schools are not sad

Mrsg - I would be interested to find out what test it was!!

mrz Sat 06-Apr-13 07:39:16

I think the fact that the test showed children who their teachers believed were good readers couldn't in fact accurately read very simple words shows the check was needed.

learnandsay Mon 08-Apr-13 09:27:31

Well, there aren't many alien names in everyday reading, so I guess that bit of the test isn't much help.

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 09:50:24

Ciff, Yaris, Punto, Baxi, Moshi, Makka Pakka, Ninky Nonk ........

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 09:58:09

Tombliboos, Pontipines, Haahoos, Dipsey, Laa Laa, Po Tinky Winky, Abadas, Bobinogs, Dipdap ....

learnandsay Mon 08-Apr-13 09:58:19

I didn't say peculiar words don't exist. I said they're not part of everyday reading. Most people read things which make sense like stories, newspapers, messages, things of that sort.

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 09:59:59

Chedds, Pritt, Teflon, Duracel, Millicano ...

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 10:01:06

So you don't read any of those words in the supermarket or on TV or children's magazines and books.

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 10:02:12

They read labels and packaging and captions

learnandsay Mon 08-Apr-13 10:11:03

Maybe they/we do occasionally (not on TV). But I don't want to raise children who are brilliant at reading advertising but can't understand a newspaper article. I'd rather it the other way around.

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 10:15:19

It's quite useful to be able to read the label on items you intend to purchase learnandsay

learnandsay Mon 08-Apr-13 10:19:25

My daughter doesn't seem to have any trouble reading the names of things she wants. I find it harder to get her to read the names of things that she doesn't want.

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 10:20:42

I hope she never struggles but unfortunately many adults do

learnandsay Mon 08-Apr-13 10:25:24

Presumably there's a difference between being able to recognise a brand and product and being able to pronounce it. I buy Polish beer sometimes. I sure can't pronounce it but I can buy the same bottle each time.

learnandsay Mon 08-Apr-13 10:26:56

I used to buy Polish stock powder too. But since I've moved house I can't find it. I can't pronounce that either but I'd recognise it it I saw it.

carriedawayannie Mon 08-Apr-13 10:28:21

What happens if they fail? Does it affect the child at all?

cumbrialass Mon 08-Apr-13 10:31:11

But you can make a phonetically plausible attempt at
Lech, Okokim, Tatra, Tyskie etc. Which is all the children are asked to do.

learnandsay Mon 08-Apr-13 10:31:24

I guess it depends on the test. If it's the phonics screening check then she'll have to do it again if she's in Y1 now. If this was her second time I don't know what happens. (Perhaps she can't read from now on.)

carriedawayannie Mon 08-Apr-13 10:44:19

I just did a quick practice test I downloaded onto my phone.

Dd1, in reception, did ok with the made up words and just approached them with the same way she approaches real words she didn't know.

She wanted to know what they meant though which is tricky to explain they are just nonsense. I didn't really say that but felt like it!

This particular test had pictures of aliens, one of which looked like a dragon and she was trying to use this picture to work out the word. I had to tell her to ignore the picture which goes against what she is taught in school so how is that helpful?

learnandsay Mon 08-Apr-13 10:51:59

Maybe the phonics check should just consist of made up words alone. Then they wouldn't need the alien pictures because some children are being taught not to look at the pictures and you can't teach don't look, don't look

wait, no, look -- whoops

freetrait Mon 08-Apr-13 10:52:26

By Y1 they are experts at nonsense words if the teacher approaches it correctly, so I wouldn't worry about it. Well, my DS is. It's just one of those things that schools do at the moment. It's much more fun to try to get DS to have a go at proper words which may well catch out a fair few grown ups grin. He enjoys this! He also knows that grown ups are not infallible re pronouncing words, far from it (he corrected my pronounciation of iguanodon the other day), so it's best just to have a go (I think this stops some of the better readers who think they ought to know the word?)

jamtoast12 Mon 08-Apr-13 11:04:02

Could it be that the test is 'easier' to pass for lower level readers in the sense that they are likely still sounding etc whereas higher level readers presume there's a mistake and read the word differently (even though they could read nonsense words but just presume its something else)? Not saying its right but just that's they're not expecting odd words?

simpson Mon 08-Apr-13 11:13:23

Jamtoast - I guess that is why they are told they may not be able to understand the aliens who want to communicate iyswim.

Loads of books have nonsense words in like Dr Suess....

maizieD Mon 08-Apr-13 11:24:24

Could it be that the test is 'easier' to pass for lower level readers in the sense that they are likely still sounding etc whereas higher level readers presume there's a mistake and read the word differently

I'm sorry, but that is an absolutely absurd argument. Do you seriously think that a six year old has a full reading vocabulary and will never ever encounter an unfamiliar word again?

I have been reading for 50+ years and I still come across unfamiliar words from time to time. Am I stupid enough to try to turn them into words I 'know'? Would you do that? I don't think so. So why support faulty reading in a six year old and allow them to develop a potentially very bad habit?

PS. I also sound out and blend unfamiliar words. It's not a crime; it's a necessary skill.

freetrait Mon 08-Apr-13 11:32:46

jamtoast- I think five and six year olds may do this if they have not been taught well. My son certainly has become a lot more confident over the last year in tackling new words.

Perhaps many children go through a stage in their reading, between hestitancy and fluency where they are pretty fluent but can become frozen by a word they don't know. It's at this stage that it takes a sensitive teacher/parent to coax and encourage/insist (depending on child's personality type!) that they sound out using their phonic knowlege with the letters/sounds they see, rather than guessing.

carriedawayannie Mon 08-Apr-13 11:37:59

Jamtoast - I was thinking the same tbh when dd1 was doing the practice test.

I was wondering if she would find it as easy next year when she would expect the words to make sense.

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 11:55:32

Presumably there has always been a bottle on the shelf and you've never had to ask an assistant for help learnandsay.

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 11:59:18

carriedawayannie if a child doesn't meet the expected level (last year it was 32/40) they will be given extra support.
If the test is administered correctly there is no reason why she should expect the pseudo words to make sense,

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 12:04:23

For the record all our very good readers scored 40/40

carriedawayannie Mon 08-Apr-13 13:55:12

Thanks mrsz.

No one at dd1s school has mentioned this test, she's in reception. Is that normal?

maizieD Mon 08-Apr-13 13:56:11

Six year olds should not be expecting every word they read to 'make sense'. They will not have a full receptive or expressive vocabulary and will be encountering lots of spoken words which are not in their vocabularies. Likewise, if they are 'good readers' and reading widely they will also be encountering unfamiliar written words. If they consistently try to turn these into words that they 'know' they will be well on the way to becoming inaccurate poor readers. I am really shocked that people seem to be unable to understand this.

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 13:56:45

Very normal the phonics check happens in June of Year 1

mrz Mon 08-Apr-13 14:02:05

I think lots of schools got an unpleasant surprise with the results of last year's check carriedawayannie which is possibly why some schools are practising in reception. It shouldn't be necessary.

carriedawayannie Mon 08-Apr-13 15:51:03

Thanks smile

simpson Mon 08-Apr-13 20:18:41

And also why some HT/schools don't agree with the phonics test....

maizieD Mon 08-Apr-13 21:24:59

Because it shows up their inadequate teaching, Simpson?

simpson Mon 08-Apr-13 21:44:42


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