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Phonics test

(46 Posts)
BingBong36 Fri 01-May-15 12:19:39

Hi all,

Can anyone tell me about the phonics test in Y1?

My son has some alien words to practice if we have time.

The school haven't told us what it is for.

Can anyone tell me the process and how important this test is? Thank you


TeenAndTween Fri 01-May-15 12:27:23

The phonics test is to see if your child can sound and blend phonics.

It contains a mixture of real words and made up words which the children are told are alien words. They know if it meant to be a real word or alien.

If a child cannot read new words phonetically it makes it harder in later life as when they come across a new word they have trouble reading it (cf my 15yo)

There is a 'pass' threshold of around 32/40. If he gets less than that he will get extra support in y2. If he has been taught phonics properly and has no additional needs then he should pass.

If however phonics as not been well taught, for example if he has been taught to look at the first letter and the picture and 'guess' then he is more likely to not reach the threshold. Which is as it should be.

You shouldn't need to 'practice' for the test, but he should be confident to expect he might not know every word he sees written and therefore to use phonics to sound it out.

The test was introduced by the government because so many schools were failing children by not teaching phonics properly, so children who appeared to be 'good' in y1 were stagnating later due to lack of phonics.

(not a teacher).

TeenAndTween Fri 01-May-15 12:29:17

Oh, if the school does it right the child just has some special 1-1 time with a teacher or TA and thinks its lovely to get the attention. They will be used to bits of time like this anyway so it should be if anything enjoyable, not in any way stressful. They don't need to know they are doing a TEST.

SunnySomer Fri 01-May-15 12:33:45

It is to assess whether your child recognises his phonics. The alien words are used (I assume) to check the child is not just recognising the word itself, but is recognising the phonic groups of letters that make it up. (Maybe so that s child with a limited vocabulary isn't disadvantaged?).
So if your alien word was "gright" your child should be able to break it down into "gr" + "igh" + "t" and sound it out logically.
If he doesn't manage it this year, he will be able to redo it next year.
There is no penalty to him if he doesn't reach the expected standard this year, however the school's results are published so that outsiders (incl Ofsted) can judge how well they have taught phonics. So it is in their interest that he does ok.
When he does the test, it won't feel like a test, it's pretty low-key.

SunnySomer Fri 01-May-15 12:35:08

Explanation above much clearer than mine!

maizieD Fri 01-May-15 13:52:40

Individual school results are not public knowledge (unlike KS1 & 2 SATs). Parents should be told only their child's result. School's data is only known within the Education 'loop' so to speak; e.g LA, Ofsted, DFe etc.

Millymollymama Fri 01-May-15 18:40:27

My LA is very worried because our phonics test results are poor, but our reading results are stellar nationally. Children now have to be taught not to try and read a non word. So many are competent readers they find this an alien concept!

AuntieStella Fri 01-May-15 18:46:16

All competent readers can decode words they have not come across before.

It happens all the time for children (who are meeting words they've not seem written down before) all the time, and for anyone when they meet a new name or specialised term.

TeenAndTween Fri 01-May-15 18:51:30

But Milly how do 6 year olds know what a real word is and what is a word they don't know yet?

I am finding words in my y11 DD's science that I have never come across before (zeolite, phenotype, allele), I have to use my phonics knowledge to find a plausible attempt to say them.
Furthermore, many reading books have made up words, Harry Potter and Dr Seuss for example.

I just do not see how claiming stellar reading results is consistent with being unable to read unknown words .
Additionally I think your sentence Children now have to be taught not to try and read a non word should more accurately say Children now have to be taught to try to sound out all non recognised words . Which is as it should be.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 01-May-15 18:55:27

Competent readers get 40/40 on the test, it shouldn't be an issue.

You shouldn't need to do a great deal of practice on them OP. A quick read through of all or some of the words should be enough to familiarise him with the concept of a non-word test and to tell you if he has the skills he needs.. There's no point in trying to learn these words or rereading them over and over again.

Feenie Fri 01-May-15 19:09:07

Children now have to be taught not to try and read a non word.

Have a think for a minute about that. Have you any idea yet how ridiculous that sounds?

mrz Fri 01-May-15 20:22:11

I constantly spend my time explaining new vocabulary to my Y1 readers - real words they aren't familiar with but can decode accurately. It's how a child's vocabulary grows.

How strange to be six and expect every word you meet to be a familiar one so that when you find a new word you exchange it for one you already know.

How strange that adults seriously believe that good readers can only read familiar words.

Feenie Fri 01-May-15 20:27:19

Still baffled that anyone thinks they have to teach a child not to read something - or anything! It's a ludicrous notion.

mrz Fri 01-May-15 20:41:16

It makes you despair Feenie ... Who are these people!

BingBong36 Sat 02-May-15 08:55:01

Thanks everyone that is helpful, these alien words look tricky to me for 5/6 year old confused

mrz Sat 02-May-15 09:25:30

Firstly the Phonics Screening Check isn't a test. It's designed to identify children who might require support.

The check is usually carried out by the class teacher (it must be a teacher not a TA and it must be someone the child knows not a supply teacher). The check takes around 5 mins max per child and involves the child reading 40 words to the teacher 1-1.
There are 4 words (either real or pseudo) per page and the teacher tells the child - the words on this page are made up /names of imaginary creatures or these are real words. There is one mark per word and as has been said the expected score is around 32/40 -(can change year to year).

You will be informed whether your child has achieved the expected score and what the school will do if they haven't.

mrz Sat 02-May-15 09:26:54

I will add that IMHO it's poor practice to send home lists of pseudo words.

bobajob Sat 02-May-15 09:37:02

Out of curiousity I just asked my Reception 4 year old to have a go at the 2014 check. He wasn't phased by "alien" words and just sounded everything out. The only ones he struggled with were sounds he hasn't learned yet - oy, ew and the split -e digraph.

I can't see the point of practising alien words particularly though.

AuntieStella Sat 02-May-15 09:41:49

"I can't see the point of practising alien words particularly though."

No, I don't think most people can. Because it's much more interesting to practice reading new words when you come across them, which is pretty much all the time for younger readers. And plenty of good teachers take that approach.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 02-May-15 10:41:46

There isn't any point in practicing alien words. The issue is that many schools are having problems trying to get children to reach the pass mark. Mostly because they are struggling with the non-words. Rather than improving their teaching of phonics and reading they've gone for cramming children with non-words to try and improve the scores.

MrsKCastle Sat 02-May-15 14:49:09

I wonder about the schools where children struggle with non-words. I imagine the children being faced with a diet of Biff and bloody Kipper so that they never have to decode new words. Any Y1 child with good quality reading books at a suitable level should be decoding New w o eds on a daily basis.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 02-May-15 15:50:05

I think sometimes the initial teaching goes a bit awry, it isn't just the books. A 20minute daily session with lots of fun whole class games but very few focused reading and writing opportunities probably isn't enough for the children that need more practice before they become competent at a skill. Ok if the school picks those children up early and gives them additional more focused small group or 1:1 opportunities to help catch up, but in some schools I think these children just end up constantly cycling through phase 2 again and again doing more of the same. And it's sometimes seen as normal to have a group of children at that stage at the end of reception rather than perhaps just 1 or 2.

cariadlet Sun 03-May-15 08:58:50

I think that the point of the alien words is just so that children are blending to read so that you can check their phonic knowledge and skills. If you only used real words then children who were widely read might recognise many of the words, read them on sight, and then you wouldn't know how they could cope with unfamiliar words.

Having said that, the last time I did a practice check with my year 1s, one of the real words was "scribe". It might just as well have been a nonsense words as none of them had ever heard the word before.

mrz Sun 03-May-15 09:04:35

Pseudo words are used in the check for just that reason (just as they are used in dyslexia screening materials and as part if the battery if checks used by Ed Psychs) but why are teachers sending home lists of pseudo words? Why do they believe thus us necessary or even helpful?

pointythings Sun 03-May-15 16:39:47

I am finding words in my y11 DD's science that I have never come across before (zeolite, phenotype, allele), I have to use my phonics knowledge to find a plausible attempt to say them.

This sums it up exactly. I have a DD in Yr9 who is doing some seriously advanced work in science, history and English - she comes across a LOT of new words as a result. Her phonics knowledge lets her pronounce them plausibly so that she can ask me or a teacher what they mean and so helps her further her knowledge. Phonics really are a skill for life.

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