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Bit disappointed about the phonics test

(109 Posts)
Campaspe Mon 17-Jun-13 19:19:47

Have read with DD religiously just about every day, and we've spent plenty of time at home going over phonics. She came home today and told me she struggled with a lot of the words, and the teacher had a list of the ones she got wrong. So, it sounds as if in spite of her best efforts, DD didn't pass the check.

We read every night. We sound out words. She likes books and stories. She knows her sounds really well, but gets muddled when putting them back into words. We've worked together on this, but it just hasn't clicked yet. In class, she reads purple books and her teacher hasn't mentioned any concerns.

I feel disappointed that after all DD's (and mine!) work, it just hasn't clicked yet. What more can I do? Will it just sort itself out? Does it really matter?

Campaspe Mon 17-Jun-13 20:16:09

Thanks for your comments everyone. I should stress that DD has not been told the outcome, but told me she found it tricky, and told me some of the words she had problems with. She isn't worried, and I know she tried her best, and you can't ask for more. I just feel a bit sad that we did everything the school asked, and yet I can tell she just can't put words together easily. We love sharing books, but it hasn't been enough to make her a good decoder of strange words. Bizarrely, she can read pretty well, so I guess she must memorise, or infer from context. She is on ORT 9.

I will ask her teacher for advice at parents evening next week.

Tincletoes Mon 17-Jun-13 20:17:47

Hmmm - I'm not overly happy DS1 came home referring to his "test" (we have only mentioned a check at home) and he also knows he got one wrong (his friend is called Clem, and I believe one of the alien words is similar to that - and he knows now what he "should" have said.

I am not exactly happy about things anyway, but how I'd quite raise this as a concern, I'm not sure....

shellyf Mon 17-Jun-13 20:19:17

You need 32 out of 40 to "pass".
The children I did it with were thanked for working with me and given a stress whatsoever.

AuntieStella Mon 17-Jun-13 20:22:03

"You do realise that the world is full ofrather a lot of people who managed to learn to read and write without phonics don't you? Or is that a myth as well?"

Not a myth - there are a huge number of literate Chiese people who learn all their characters by learn and say rote, plus all the others others with non-alphabetic languages.

But aside from brief 20th fad for other methods, it's been phonics for centuries for English and other alphabetic languages.

mrz Mon 17-Jun-13 20:23:25

No Northernlurker I don't know anyone who can read and write without phonics even though some kid themselves they don't use phonics

Hulababy Mon 17-Jun-13 20:25:00

Posted this elsewhere...but some feedback from today.

First class at my school did this year's screening today.

Very positive results so far. 84% pass rate from today's class which included a number of children with learning delays/difficulties.

Every child who is a good reader have passed.

None today struggled with the idea of real words and non real words.

Those who struggled and have not yet achieved the required level were not a surprise to the teacher.

Hope that helps anyone who is worrying.

BTW the children were not told it was a test - well it isn't, its a screening check. They are used to having some 1:1 with their teacher for various activities anyway so that is not unusual to them. They got stickers and they were thanked, as they are generally in 1:1 situations. No upsets, etc. No child was given a mark either, nor told which were right or wrong. Teacher comments were obscured from view

Periwinkle007 Mon 17-Jun-13 20:26:44

Campaspe - it is perfectly possible to get to level 9 without being able to decode effectively. My daughter got to 8 but we have done a lot of work on tackling new words, where to break them down into sections etc and she seems to be doing well with it now. (we did discover Irlen syndrome too and with her new glasses it is all much better for her) I am pleased we have managed to find a way to help her with her tackling new words. I would have a chat with her teacher though if you are aware that although she is reading well she is struggling with decoding as the sooner you can tackle it the better. She MAY be compensating for mild dyslexia.

Northernlurker Mon 17-Jun-13 20:27:39

But you know lots of people who weren't taught in this way and with this check and can still read and write. Lord knows how eh?

23balloons Mon 17-Jun-13 20:31:04

How I wish this check was around when ds was in primary, then the school may have realise he was dyslexic & may have tried to help him with his difficulties rather than ignore them.
Northernlurker I read all of the time & always read to my son, unfortunately it's not enough to overcome the difficulties he has with reading.

toomuchicecream Mon 17-Jun-13 20:31:17

I did the screening with 6 year 2 children today who "failed" last year. 5 of them passed without any difficulty, and the 6th one has recognised speech & language difficulties for which she has been receiving support both inside and outside school.

The year 1 children performed exactly as I had predicted - as a teacher I know where the children are and what they can do. So 2 of them who "failed" are young for the year group and reading has only clicked for them recently. So although they've had the same daily, well planned, well structured phonics lessons as the others, they didn't quite make the threshold as it took them a bit longer to get going than the rest of the class. So there were some grapheme-phoneme correspondences on the test that they just haven't learnt yet. They'll get it next year.

So don't worry about your daughter OP - children progress at different speeds. We have a boy in year 5 working at least 2 years ahead of himself who spent the first 3 years in school on the special needs register. He's predicted level 6s.

RikeBider Mon 17-Jun-13 20:32:16

Most people can work out phonics themselves Northernlurker, without knowing it. Some children need it taught explicitly though. Not all adults can now read and write.

OP, I would try to see this positively. Some children can appear to be good readers because they are good at memorising words. Now the teacher will know exactly where your child is with phonics and decoding and she will get targetted support. That's a good outcome, isn't it?

learnandsay Mon 17-Jun-13 20:32:25

Waiving laws in people's faces isn't going to make them better teachers.

learnandsay Mon 17-Jun-13 20:34:16

Any more than outlawing talking on a mobile and driving has wiped that practice out either.

teacherwith2kids Mon 17-Jun-13 20:34:32


Everyone who reads and writes English uses phonics IMPLICITLY (try finding an unknown word and then reading it out loud - you sound it out, in chunks that either correspond to words that you know already or 'bit of words' [sounds] that you know already].

We were not taught phonics EXPLICITLY, because most of us who are currently parents were taught to read via the briefly-fashionable look and say method. However, in order to be able to read unknown words, we worked out the 'phonic code' for ourselves.

Children now are taught the phonic code EXPLICITLY - which when well done is a MUCH more efficient and successful method of learning to read than the 'do something else that looks like it might work and let children work out the code for themselves' that preceded it. However, it IS, currently, often undermined by poor teaching and the use of non-phonic scheme books (so children are taught to use a hammer to drive in nails .... then given a screwdriver to practise with).

teacherwith2kids Mon 17-Jun-13 20:37:38

And Northern, you have to remember that you are a lucky one. 1 in 5 children did NOT learn to read and write well using the methods that were used to teach you. Well-taught phonics fails significantly fewer - so why this insistence on 'I'm all right, Jack, so nothing needs to change, even if the new method would radically improve the outcome for someone else'?

Hulababy Mon 17-Jun-13 20:41:20

I have worked in an adult/YO prison. The level of literacy in many adults in prisons is rock bottom. Many did not learn to read at school beyond the most basic of levels. For many of these people, based on their ages, it would have been in the 70s/80s fab for look and say. In prison ed they are taught phonics for reading and writing - well, they were being when I was there about 5-6 years ago.

Northernlurker Mon 17-Jun-13 20:42:44

I don't think I'm espousing an 'I'm alright Jack' attitude. My children have all been explicitly taught phonics. On this thread though you have a parent who feels that she and her child have failed today and that's just not the case nor is it helpful at all for her to feel that all her efforts have availed them nothing. That is my objection.

teacherwith2kids Mon 17-Jun-13 20:50:04

(The phonics screening seems to me to be a useful measure, at least in the short term, to flush out those schools that aren't following best practice in phonics teaching, and thus failing up to 1 in 5 of their children who they OUGHT to be teaching to read. The schools I know of have had two types of outcome - either almost everyone passing, except for a very few with particular needs or difficulties, or a surprising number of failures, followed by an overdue overhaul of the teaching of reading!

teacherwith2kids Mon 17-Jun-13 20:51:01


The school administered the check APPALLINGLY in the OP's case. It is NOT how it should be done. That does not undermine the test

HarumScarum Mon 17-Jun-13 21:02:09

To be honest, the only person who failed today was the person who gave a little girl the impression she had done something badly and got things wrong despite probably trying her hardest. DD also did her test today. She has no idea it was a test, no idea whether or not she got anything wrong and no idea that you can pass or fail. She cheerfully told me that her favourite alien was, I think, voiks (sp?!) and drew him for me. And she got a jelly bean afterwards (as did every child who did the test) so by her standards she's had an unusually great day with an unusually interesting reward.

AlienAttack Mon 17-Jun-13 21:03:54

OP, I am sorry that you are feeling disappointed. My approach to the phonics test (as a mother of an supposedly able reader in Y1) was that it was an important indicator that she really could decode unknown words (which as her reading books have got much harder, I.e. at white/emerald level now, is increasingly important as she is regularly encountering new vocabulary). And if she couldn't, support would be put in place, which I saw as a good thing. She had the phonics check today. Her school had let us know last week it would be happening but had stressed the importance of not putting pressure on the children or making them think about pass/fail. No specific practice suggested. My DD has told me that she had special one to one time with her teacher today, reading a mixture of real and made-up words and that she got a sticker for her effort. That's it, she's happy, no concerns about getting any wrong. I'm happy that if there is an issue, it will have been identified in the test and can be worked on.

HarumScarum Mon 17-Jun-13 21:07:17

The only reason I know DD did her test today is because of reading MN! The school hasn't even mentioned it (which is as it should be IMO).

kilmuir Mon 17-Jun-13 21:10:02

My year 2 retook the phonics test today, teacher said to tell me that she had done very well
Yes i was disappointed that last year my DD only got half right, BUT, she is a wonderful reader now, the extra help she needed has been brilliant for her

kjrv81 Mon 17-Jun-13 21:25:01

My DD has hers this week, and she struggled with last years practice test, however I am not bothered she is on purple like your DD and one of the better readers in the class.

HumphreyCobbler Mon 17-Jun-13 21:35:39

What an excellent summing up of the situation Teacherwith2kids.

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