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Any teachers please. Dds previously solid reading age dropping dramatically

(23 Posts)
milkfreecocopops Thu 31-Mar-16 07:29:11

DD has always been a very solid reader. Even in Reception she was far ahead and has continually been a couple of years ahead despite sen.

In year 5 she had a reading age of 12.11. She was also externally assessed in relation to her sen in year 5 and again showed very high but discovered she was reading without any kind of phonics. I.e she knew what a word was because she had seen it previously but could not break new words up. She received help in relation to this.

Fast forward to 13.
She had a bad experience in regards to reading and it has put her off. She is not reading at all. I have tried everything to ignite her fire for reading. We have a house full of books, story cds, magazines etc, she liked David Walliams books but has even gone off those. Her reading age is now age 10. Please help!

BertrandRussell Thu 31-Mar-16 10:46:16

I'm a bit puzzled- how could her reading age have dropped? Might it be that she didn't cooperate when she was tested? Could you ask the school to repeat the test?

TeenAndTween Thu 31-Mar-16 11:47:44

Not a teacher.

Bribe / reward her for reading? Or consequences?

e.g. 30mins of reading = gaming time
or 30mins reading = you can have your phone the next day

milkfreecocopops Thu 31-Mar-16 13:46:03

Bert I have no idea how it works. She has been tested regularly with renaissance reading and its dropped down from 12.11 in year 5/6 12.6 in year 7 and now 10 years in year 8

milkfreecocopops Thu 31-Mar-16 13:49:00

Teen I've tried bribery and reward. Her confidence and self esteem are awful after a bad experience reading in school so I am reluctant to make reading an even more horrid and hated experience than it already is.

BertrandRussell Thu 31-Mar-16 15:28:54

I'm not a teacher but I do volunteer in ds's school to help with reluctant and/or struggling readers. So I am an enthusiastic amateur, not a professional so feel free to ignore me.

But this is what I think . The reading test, if it's the one I think it is, is a test of comprehension and it gets progressively more difficult as you go through it. I have a degree in English and used to earn my living from writing, but when I did it, there was 1 question where I dithered about the right answer and got timed out (deeply embarrassing that was!) I can easily see how, if your dd has lost confidence, she might have skipped or guessed the harder questions. It is proper hard.

Whet I think you should do is a) completely back off trying to get her to read- I don't think it'll help. Like when they're little and won't eat. Forcing/cajoling/begging/bribing never works! b) Find out who the Literacy Coordinator at school and see what she says. You could ask if you can log in to the reading test at home. They would do this at our school, but you have to make a case-it costs the school money every time you log on so yours might say no. If they will let you, and she's willing, sit down with her and do it together. If nothing else, it'll give you an idea of how difficult it is. And it might just boost her confidence if she can do much better with you giving her the occasional nudge.

She is presumably having to do more reading in other subjects now? I think not having a thing called "reading" in her life would be a good thing. Does that make sense? Reading as a thing you do to find out information for your history essay, or how to make brownies. Not "reading"

Sorry, that was a ramble.

bigTillyMint Thu 31-Mar-16 15:45:06

I had never heard of Renaissance Reading, but googled it. It seems to be some sort of software to assess reading? I don't know exactly how it works, but Bertrand could be quite right. Or perhaps the secondary school have assessed her with different software or a real person?

Obviously a real, trained person is way more accurate than reading software and had a real person been doing the assessments throughout, you should have got a pretty accurate indication of her reading age. The software is not likely to be as accurate and is open to children not doing the test properly IYSWIM.

You say she has SEN. Could that be affecting how she engaged with the test? Just wondering, for example I know a bright child with suspected ASD who might not want to cooperate and wouldn't try to answer the test as accurately as possible. Often SEN become more pronounced at puberty.

As for getting her to read, Good Luck! My DC read avidly (especially DD) till they started secondary school...

BertrandRussell Thu 31-Mar-16 16:07:49

Yes, it is a piece of software- the reading test bit is a series of progressively difficult passages with multiple choice questions to answer. I can easily see how a child lacking in confidence might either guess or leave questions unanswered.

bigTillyMint Thu 31-Mar-16 16:14:01


OP, could you speak with the school about your concerns? I am guessing that the school are aware of her SEN and she has some sort of support in place? Could you ask for a meeting with the SENCO?

mary21 Thu 31-Mar-16 16:45:23

Back off all reading for the holidays. Maybe get some fun story CD's from the library if you still have a CD player or have a cosy story session where you read to her and rest of the family.
Look up visual stress. I know my oldest DC doesn't comprehend well when he is stressed,
Also has she had an eye test recently. Lots of teens start to need glasses at this/age.

Teawaster Thu 31-Mar-16 16:56:10

We had something similar with DS. He was always a good few years ahead of his age and then In the first couple of years at secondary school his reading age dropped. I assumed it had been an error in the first year as his English scores in tests were good but then queried it the following year when a similar result was reported. It turned out the school were on a system called Accelerated Reader where they had to read a number of books and then do comprehension tests online. Each book had a different level of difficulty and there was only a maximum reading age you could get if you only read easy books. So DS , lazy reader that he was was only selecting short , easy books and so attained a lower reading age than he could have attained. Got him reading harder books and his age went up.

BertrandRussell Thu 31-Mar-16 17:05:44

Teawaster- either things have changed, or your school was using Accelerated Reader wrongly- he shouldn't have been able to get away with that!

DelphiniumBlue Thu 31-Mar-16 17:27:28

Renaissance Reading - we do this at school, and I administer a lot of the tests. The results can vary quite a lot, depending on a number of things, like what mood the child was in, whether there were any distubances during the test ( quite likely if there are several children doing the test at the same time) and how much attention the child was paying.
If the results are not what I expect, then I tell the child that they have the opportunity to sit it again, as they did not show how good they are at reading. They can easily come out a year or 2 higher on retesting.
As far as I know, the online test can ony be done at school, not at home.
If you are really bothered, you can ask the school to arrange a retest ( which is very easy for them to do) as you are concerned about the dip.
Not all teachers in all schools understand how the system works, and some will not necessarily be comparing last years results with this years - I know in our school we are still working on getting all the staff properly trained on the system, although it has been running at the school for more than 4 years. Time is an issue.....
Personally, I think the school would need to test at least every half term to get a proper idea of abilities and progress, but most do not have time for this.

More concerning is the fact that your DD is not engaging with reading - I would expect that to have an effect on her reading.

EvilTwins Thu 31-Mar-16 17:32:30

What was the bad experience? Is it worth looking at that as a starting point?

Usual advice is to back off but make appealing reading material readily available - books, magazines, non-fiction etc, but it looks like you're on top of that.

Teawaster Thu 31-Mar-16 23:25:58

I'm not sure Bertrand. I was given that reason at the time so maybe they weren't implementing the scheme correctly. It's a very good school , results wise but I m not convinced the teachers were completely on board with the scheme. DS is now in year 10 , preparing for GCSEs so less emphasis on reading age and more on grades

Bluebonnie Thu 31-Mar-16 23:31:23

Echoing what bigTillyMint and BertrandRussell said.

Further googling unearthed more: Renaissance reading tests comprehension, not reading accuracy. It doesn't teach reading. It's a big money spinner for its promoters, but it takes a lot of time which could actually be used to teach English.

There is no real evidence of any effectiveness of Renaissance reading at secondary level in the UK. A UK study is underway at the moment which is due to report in 2018; it is funded by the Educational Effectiveness Foundation.

The scheme was developed in the USA, and introduced elsewhere. Quite a few negative comments on the web about its use in the USA: kids get sick of it and find it a turnoff. I could go on, but you can find this stuff quite easily.

OP: just ignore this feedback and relax, take notice of what daughter's subject teachers say.

starry0ne Thu 31-Mar-16 23:47:16

I am not a teacher... But have you tried re reading familiar books or going to really simple books to gain confidence.. Does she have a younger sibling she could read too..
My Ds is much younger but gets put off thick books despite been capable of reading.. So we do a chapter each..I know someone else who does a page each?

Flutterworc Fri 01-Apr-16 00:04:50

I am an English teacher and we use AR (Renaissance) at the secondary school where I teach. PP poster is right in saying that it tests comprehension, but it does tend to correlate relatively accurately in most cases with other reading tests. If it's a one off score, I wouldn't worry too much about it - kids can get bored half way through the test and randomly click through just to complete, thus affecting their score. If this is a trend, then yes it would be worth investigating further - a phone call or appointment with the teacher would be a good starting point, possibly followed by a trip to the school/public library or book shop (dependent on finances) and talking with her about what she does/doesn't like in a book.

AR works well as a reward based system - ask her to bring home a print out of her test results - quizzes prove how well students have read a book (which should be in the middle to top end of her ZPD range to make the best progress) and she will get points - you could back this up at home with small rewards when she gets 80% or similar.

Books are tricky little beasts - finding the right one for her could turn it all around. Good luck.

weirdsister Fri 01-Apr-16 00:11:20

Reading ages aren't accurate and should be avoided. I would question the validity of the program.

Beeziekn33ze Fri 01-Apr-16 00:21:43

Sad that a previously competent (and keen?) reader has been put off. I suspect the tests or administrators are at fault, not your DD. Will she read recipes, craft instructions?
I was a teacher and successful at both teaching reading and getting children to enjoy, use and value books. Phonics to me are simply a crutch to help in the early stages, IMHO there is now an overemphasis on them. I have seen 5 year olds sound out words they can read because some muppet has made them think they have too, oh dear!

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 01-Apr-16 20:29:53

TBF Beeziekn33ze, that isn't phonics, per se, that's bad teaching of phonics.

The difference between 12.11 and 12.6 is't significant. I wouldn't view that as an issue. She shouldn't be getting a score 2 years lower on a similar test though. Although this could be down to the accuracy of the AR tests though. It might be worth trying to find out what caused that. As PP have said, there are a number of innocent explanations for it. Given it's a computer based test, it might not be possible to do that very easily.

sashh Sat 02-Apr-16 21:48:50

You mention SEN is it dyslexia? My dyslexia can 'play up' some days and I have been known to not be able to read for pleasure even as an adult who always has a book on the go.

catewood21 Mon 04-Apr-16 14:29:53

I think she probably muddled through with a good 'sight' vocabulary in her primary school tests.In secondary school she will be coming across more and more unfamilar words.Can she read 'nonsense' words?
Also sometimes reading finer print throws up problems with words moving on the page

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