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Phonics screening test

(225 Posts)
Mashabell Thu 29-Nov-12 10:06:42

There is a very good article on the madness of the phonics screening test in todays i (the 20 p version of The Independent) and some of its silliest effects.

learnandsay Thu 29-Nov-12 12:34:38

I don't have access to any papers. Can you summarise?

redskyatnight Thu 29-Nov-12 12:40:25

I think it's this one:

cavell Thu 29-Nov-12 12:45:41

It isn't a very good article at all - it is clearly written by someone who doesn't have a clue what they are talking about. Dross.

learnandsay Thu 29-Nov-12 12:52:35

The top half is an old argument. I've never heard of teachers telling children not to spell words correctly. I'd like to see some evidence that any real teacher has ever done that.

AstonishingMouse Thu 29-Nov-12 13:00:19

Silly article.
I'm sure there is a real discussion to be had about whether a national phonics screening test is needed but this is not that discussion.
Why would you need to use a pseudonym for an article like this? Because it's full of unsubstantiated nonsense?

Tiggles Thu 29-Nov-12 13:04:53

What a bizarre article! Since when has 'what' not been spelt phonetically?? DS2 learnt very early on in reception that he needed an <a> to make an <o> sound if it came after a w or wh... I have never heard of a teacher saying 'what' is wrong, spell it 'wot', that shows a significant lack of phonic knowledge in the teacher, surely?

As to the whole reading strat as start argument, how do children improve their vocabularly if they never come across new words in their reading. DS2 learnt a new one yesterday in his school reading book.

Nicknamegrief Thu 29-Nov-12 13:10:38

I am more concerned about the teacher the article describes not the article.

learnandsay Thu 29-Nov-12 13:51:14

I'm not convinced that such a teacher exists. I'm no phonics fan, but that sounds plain stupid. Nobody ever said phonics was about forcing children to do stupid things.

mrz Thu 29-Nov-12 16:55:37

No wonder the author is afraid to put their own name to such a load of utter rubbish ... Jennifer Jackson isn't your pseudonym is it masha?

learnandsay Thu 29-Nov-12 17:04:13

Incidentally, if the inventors of the phonics test didn't want to use only real words then why didn't they use partial words? That way children who, like my daughter, always want a word to made sense could be asked to imagine what the word fragment could be part of. And children who simply do as they're told could just read the fragment and move on.

Feenie Thu 29-Nov-12 17:07:45


Mashabell Thu 29-Nov-12 17:25:49

I am not Jennifer Jackson. I always prefer to use my real name.
And I agree that it is unlikely that any teachers ask children to spell phonically, although many would not correct all their phonic spellings from the start, in order not to extinguish enthusiasm for writing with too much correcting.

But for 6-yr-olds who have moved past the phonics stage, onto reading for meaning, the test is totally stupid. My now 7-yr-old granddaughter was the best reader in her class at the time of testing last summer, rapidly working her way through Dahl's books.

She did not get all words right because she kept trying to turn the nonsense words into real ones. Giving her that test was a complete nonsense for her and her teacher. That is surely the main point of the article and well worth making?

Children who failed the test are to be retested. U can be sure that the use of nonsense words will become more widespread in schools.

Feenie Thu 29-Nov-12 17:37:44

It's a concern that your gd tries to turn unfamiliar words into real ones, Masha.

As a teacher, that would be valuable information for me to help her broaden her vocabulary and read unfamiliar words more comfortably.

MirandaWest Thu 29-Nov-12 17:50:55

My DD is a pretty good reader. She understood what "alien" words were and so used her phonics knowledge to read them and passed her phonics screening in the summer,

I still use phonics when necessary and I am a little bit older than 6 (on paper anyway).

LeeCoakley Thu 29-Nov-12 18:04:20

'very good article'? It's a load of tosh.

maverick Thu 29-Nov-12 20:02:15

Independent? Only from the truth when it comes to phonics

Tiggles Thu 29-Nov-12 20:05:12

Dahl is full of made up wonderful sounding words, that wouldn't work if you were trying to turn them into real words. This makes the phonics test more necessary!!

learnandsay Thu 29-Nov-12 20:16:15

Yes, maverick. That's pretty much been the response here in this forum too. And I'm not even a fan of phonics. As someone upthread put it, there's a debate to be had about phonics and this, emphasis added, sure as hell isn't it.

squeezedatbothends Thu 29-Nov-12 20:21:18

The nonsense words in the test are silly though and it is true that in the pilot tests it was the able children who did badly - they were thrown by the nonsense words. I have seen lots of teachers in my obs use the alien idea - a creative way of getting round a stupid test, but I've never seen anyone encourage children to spell words incorrectly or ban them from reading. What rubbish.

allchildrenreading Thu 29-Nov-12 20:26:06

We need surgeons, doctors, nurses, chemists, mechanical engineers, architects, scientists, statisticians to be able to decode accurately.
Unless a child has severe ADD it's surely a doddle for children who have been well instructed to be given a few minutes of pics with nonsense words alongside, for 4-6 weeks practice before the check?

It's the non-words that make over-practice/ teaching to the test, a futile activity.

As for Jennifer Jackson - why doesn't she let us know if she's a union official, a member of UKLA or any of the other organisations who have never spoken up for the long tail of children who have been left illiterate or barely literate?

Does a paper as reputable as The Independent really think it's pulling the wool over the eyes of anyone with a modicum of intelligence?

mrz Thu 29-Nov-12 20:27:28

It certainly isn't true that in the pilot tests it was the able children who did badly squeezedatbothends, just as in the actual test in June it wasn't the able children who did badly ...
I administered the test and our able readers achieved 40/40, other schools had 100% pass rate ...did they not have able readers?

learnandsay Thu 29-Nov-12 20:34:12

One person's able child isn't another's. It seems likely that the failings for what were seen as able children were seen in their attempts to read nonsensical words. But I presume that's because they weren't used to reading nonsensical words, (or they didn't use phonological awareness.) But some children (like myself as a child) have little or no phonological awareness, aren't used to reading nonsensical words and can read proper books really well. Yes, we'd probably struggle horribly with Dahl or some Carroll. But most of reading isn't Dahl or Carroll, just as most punctuation isn't ee cummings.

simpson Thu 29-Nov-12 20:34:25

DD in reception has done parts of the phonics test (not all at the same time admittedly) and got them all correct (bar one word - don't know which one)...

If a child does not know the meaning of a word, then surely to them it's an "alien" word??!! (the first time they read it I mean)

mrz Thu 29-Nov-12 20:38:21

exactly simpson!

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