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NFER evaluation of the Year One phonics check May 2014

 
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debbie



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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2014 2:46 pm    Post subject: NFER evaluation of the Year One phonics check May 2014 Reply with quote

This is important and very interesting reading - a report by the National Foundation for Educational Research commissioned by the Department for Education in England regarding teachers' responses to the statutory Year One phonics screening check:

Quote:
Phonics screening check evaluation Research report

May 2014


Matthew Walker, Shelley Bartlett, Helen Betts, Marian Sainsbury & Jack Worth - National Foundation for Educational Research


https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/phonics-screening-check-evaluation

It indicates that many, if not most, teachers are likely to be using multi-cueing reading strategies (research has shown over and again that there are inherent dangers in the mutli-cueing approach for at least some learners) in addition to their systematic synthetic phonics teaching.

Around two-thirds of teachers indicate that they are in favour of systematic synthetic phonics teaching but a significant percentage of teachers are not in favour of the Year One phonics check - and many appear to have a somewhat limited view of phonics provision in that it is described as 15 or 20 minutes a day based on 'Letters and Sounds' (the official publication brought out in 2007 presented as a 'high-quality six phase teaching programme' but on closer analysis it is not really a 'programme' as it is incomplete and does not provide any teaching and learning resources - teachers therefore have to equip the 'Letters and Sounds' document and translate it into a programme).

This confirms that the phonics provision in schools can still be wide and varied considering the differences in the level of support and guidance in the various well-known systematic synthetic phonics programmes compared to 'Letters and Sounds' (but all with no multi-cueing reading strategies as the underpinning guidance) - and the variation in time allocated to phonics teaching within the main commercial programmes compared to schools doing more limited phonics teaching along with multi-cueing reading strategies.

The literacy results (in England) taken into consideration nationally, then, are not likely to be based on true Systematic Synthetic Phonics Teaching Principles as these principles preclude the use of multi-cueing reading strategies.

When I get time I shall select parts of this report to write comments about the findings to date.
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Last edited by debbie on Thu May 08, 2014 4:37 pm; edited 4 times in total
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debbie



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PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a superb, detailed report (a 'must read') of what can be achieved by adherence to the Systematic Synthetic Phonics Teaching Principles (Dr Marlynne Grant, May 2014).

The underpinning SSP programme for these outcomes is Sound Discovery which is based entirely on the SSP Teaching Principles.

Well done to all the teachers (including teaching assistants) and children who have taken part!

Quote:
Longitudinal Study from Reception to Year 2 (2010-2013) and
Summary of an earlier Longitudinal Study from Reception to Year 6 (1997-2004)

The Effects of a Systematic Synthetic Phonics Programme on Reading, Writing and Spelling -
with whole classes of children who started with the programme for first-time teaching in Reception (aged four to five years) and received small group teaching with the same programme for catch-up as required


Dr. Marlynne Grant
Chartered and Registered Educational Psychologist


http://www.rrf.org.uk/pdf/Grant%20Follow-Up%20Studies%20-%20May%202014.pdf

I agree entirely with Dr Grant's statement with reference to the NFER findings about teachers' continued misunderstandings and the prevailing teaching practices in England:

Quote:
In spite of the government initiatives to raise literacy standards through synthetic phonics, the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), on behalf of the DfE, reported the following evaluation findings in 2013 and in 2014 about the teaching of phonics and the attitudes towards phonics in schools (10). There is “wide misunderstanding of the term ‘systematic synthetic phonics’”. About 90% of literacy coordinators “feel that a variety of different methods should be used to teach children to decode words”. “Many schools believe that a phonics approach to teaching reading should be used alongside other methods”. “Teachers in general have not yet fully adopted” DfE recommended phonics practices (1). In other words, despite the government initiatives for schools in England, the situation has still not been achieved in which all children are receiving the best start to their literacy. Nor are all struggling learners receiving the most effective teaching for intervention. The implications are that literacy standards may not be raised as expected and that some vulnerable children may continue to struggle to learn to read.


Furthermore, I agree entirely with Dr Grant's summing up statement:

Quote:
Some critics believe that formal teaching of literacy should be postponed until children are older. In the studies reported here all the children benefited from synthetic phonics in their early years of school, including children in potentially vulnerable groups and those with learning difficulties.

Another government initiative, the Year 1 phonics screening check (37), should assist in the process of raising standards. It will focus schools’ efforts on teaching children to read early in their schooling when they are most receptive. The phonics screening check will assist in identifying children who are struggling, so that they can receive extra help to keep up or to catch up at an early stage.

Early phonics teaching should be set in a rich and balanced curriculum which develops oral language and provides high quality literature. Children have the greatest chance of becoming literate if they develop both accurate and fluent word decoding as early as possible in parallel with developing their language comprehension.

This so-called ‘Simple View of Reading’ (5) will simply provide all children with the greatest chance to realise Nick Gibb’s vision, “Through phonics we are ensuring all children learn the mechanics of reading early in their school career. Helping children to develop a love of reading and a habit of reading for pleasure every day is key to ensuring we have well educated and literate young people by the time they leave school” (3Cool.

These studies challenge the national findings of the Boys’ Reading Commission (3Cool that the reading gap between boys and girls is increasing. On the contrary, these studies found that boys’ achievements were high and often significantly higher than those of girls and of other boys nationally.

The National Literacy Trust believes that lives can be “transformed through literacy” (39). The International Literacy Centre believes that “being literate is an essential, a right and a joy” and that “all children should receive the support they need to become effective, efficient and enthusiastic readers and writers” (40). The United Kingdom Literacy Association “is committed to promoting good practice nationally and internationally in literacy and language teaching” (41).

These are laudable aims. However, these organisations do not promote teaching with systematic synthetic phonics as described in these studies. This report provides evidence of how such aims, aspirations and objectives can be realised for all children through government approved systematic synthetic phonics teaching which is simple and effective.


© Dr Marlynne Grant, 2014
Chartered and Registered Educational Psychologist


This is the diagram of the Simple View of Reading model mentioned in Dr Grant's report - an excellent model for appreciating the two main processes involved in 'being a reader' - 1) the ability to lift the words off the page (decoding) and 2) the language comprehension to understand the words:


http://www.phonicsinternational.com/The_Simple_View_of_Reading_model.pdf
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debbie



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PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dr Grant identifies a number of vulnerable groups in England and then goes on to illustrate that the needs of these groups educationally are all addressed with good Systematic Synthetic Phonics teaching without the multi-cueing reading strategies:

Quote:
This most recent study (2010-2013) is set in the context of government initiatives to improve reading standards in England through “high quality phonic work” (4, 5, 6, 7). In the UK there are many disadvantaged children who still struggle to learn to read in school and there are specific concerns about a variety of vulnerable children. In this study the following groupings were identified from official Department for Education (DfE) classifications:

• boys,
• children from low-income families who qualify for free school meals,
• Pupil Premium children - pupils who have been registered as eligible for free school meals at any point in the last 6 years or have been looked after in public care for 6 months or longer,
• children whose ethnicity is non-white British,
• children whose first language is not English,
• children with special educational needs,
• children with summer birthdays.

In this study the school also identified two vulnerable groups:

• children who are struggling learners for whom the school provided extra teaching in order for the children to keep up – in so-called ‘catch-up’ groups,
• children with significant social, emotional and behavioural difficulties who were identified in Year 2 as a ‘challenging behaviour’ group, requiring additional managing.


I would like to draw attention to these vulnerable groups as it is very likely that behaviour in Year 2 will deteriorate because of teachers' prejudices and tendencies to continue at least to some extent with multi-cueing reading strategies.

Moving into Year 2 is a danger point as this is when the emphasis for teachers is on the forthcoming national teacher assessments based on higher-order literacy achievement (for reading and writing - the end of Key Stage One national assessments).

Many teachers stop or greatly reduce their daily systematic phonics teaching which creates grave danger of setting weaker learners back in their progress-to-date.

In other words, when a more 'whole language' approach becomes more likely, the behaviour issues, or learning difficulties, of many children is likely to be exacerbated (made worse).

It is not advisable to allow a scenario where multi-cueing becomes, or remains, a dominant approach to reading - especially for these weaker groups.

This suggests that we now have to be very vigilant and analytical about the progress (or lack of) of the weaker groups - particularly now when virtually all teachers say they are doing 'systematic synthetic phonics' but, in reality, they are not doing it according to the leading-edge research and classroom findings as they look like they are still mixing it with multi-cueing reading strategies.

In other words, we are fighting the corner for the most vulnerable children moving forwards.

Those teachers, and others, who have the mindset that 'some children need something different' or 'learning to read needs multiple reading strategies' (which amounts in reality to a lot of guessing) is very, very worrying.

Also, we can identify the worrying mindset: 'the children have been phonicked to death and that didn't work, now they need something different' - and we know that many of these children then go on to receive intervention programmes underpinned by multi-cueing guessing strategies (such as Reading Recovery and cheaper clones of the RR approach) which may seriously undermine synthetic phonics teaching and lead away from automatic blending application as the reading reflex for lifting the words off the page.

Consider this, when the picture clues disappear from texts, and the vocabulary in the texts becomes more challenging and previously unknown to the reader so there is no prior knowledge to call upon, how is the reader to lift the word off the page?

There IS only a phonics route!

Phonics provides lifelong knowledge and skills for reading and spelling, and should be understood universally as underpinning lifelong, adult literacy.

In Year 2 and beyond, high quality phonics teaching must not fizzle out particularly for these vulnerable groups.

The entire teaching profession and those involved with teacher-training, and politicians, and indeed the general public, should be aware of the issues raised by the NFER report and Dr Grant's report.

This is fundamentally important stuff because reading and writing underpins education and life chances.
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debbie



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PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2014 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://phonicsinternational.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1658#1658

I am cross-linking this thread with the thread 'Will the multi-cueing reading strategies ever go away?' which provides links to international research and conversations on this very important topic.
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debbie



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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is yet another important report linked to the Year One phonics screening check in England - ironically also published in May.

I am currently writing an article looking at all three of these May 2014 reports, their inter-relatedness - and what information we can draw from all three of them collectively. When my article is available via the internet, I'll flag it up on this thread.



http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9817.12029/full

See the postings below for comments about this report:
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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I already linked the Snowling et al study to the thread I've built up with the topic of the Year One phonics screening check where I wrote the following comments:


Study looking at the validity and sensitivity of the phonics screening check for identifying children who may need catch up. Please note, however, that children needing catch up at the end of Year One are better identified in the earliest stages of systematic phonics teaching (Reception - at the beginning) in order to aim for 'keeping up' rather than addressing their learning difficulties at a later stage for 'catch up' purposes:


Quote:
Quote:
Validity and sensitivity of the phonics screening check: implications for practice

Fiona J. Duff1,*, Silvana E. Mengoni2, Alison M. Bailey3,4 and Margaret J. Snowling5

Article first published online: 13 MAY 2014




http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9817.12029/full

Quote:
Abstract

Background


Introduced in June 2012, the phonics screening check aims to assess whether 6-year-old children are meeting an appropriate standard in phonic decoding and to identify children struggling with phonic skills.

Aims

We investigated whether the check is a valid measure of phonic skill and is sensitive in identifying children at risk of reading difficulties.

Sample

We obtained teacher assessments of phonic skills for 292 six-year-old children and additional psychometric data for 160 of these children.

Methods

Teacher assessment data were accessed from schools via the local authority; psychometric tests were administered by researchers shortly after the phonics screening check.

Results

The check was strongly correlated with other literacy skills and was sensitive in identifying at-risk readers. So too were teacher judgements of phonics.

Conclusions

Although the check fulfils its aims, we argue that resources might be better focused on training and supporting teachers in their ongoing monitoring of phonics.



I think the Year One phonics screening check is very important.

It has raised awareness of the effectiveness of phonics teaching and how this can vary school to school and even from one local authority to another.

We have yet to have any attention paid to the effectiveness of different phonics programmes and training - and sufficient awareness raised that 'Letters and Sounds' is not a full teaching programme as it is incomplete in its content and provides no teaching and learning resources.

Thus, the most commonly-used publication continues to be 'Letters and Sounds', but most teachers appear to be still using 'multi-cueing reading strategies' according to the indications of the NFER report on the phonics check commissioned by the DfE (May 2014) - and yet the underpinning guidance within 'Letters and Sounds' is NO multi-cueing reading strategies.

All as clear as mud, then.

Some schools reporting to commercial programme authors and publishers - myself included (but not just for Phonics International and the ORT Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters programmes) - describe results of 9o+% in the Year One phonics screening check.

So, this is arguably what all schools should be aiming for - suggesting we have room for greater teaching effectiveness across England generally.

For example, I received this email from a headteacher on 12 May, 2014:

Quote:
Our first Floppy's cohort (Reception 2011) are due to graduate from Y2 this summer - 98% are L2+ in Reading, and 40% L3+. Our previous baselines, you may remember, was 50% L2+ and less than 10% L3. Our 1 child not achieving L2 came to us at the beginning of Y2 from another school. This stuff seriously WORKS - but then you know that!

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Walker of Sounds-Write writes a more detailed commentary than me about the York paper (noting some of the same issues as I raise above) via his 'Literacy Blog':


http://literacyblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/how-valid-is-phonics-screening-check.html


Quote:
Friday, May 16, 2014

How valid is the phonics screening check?

The Journal of Research in Reading has just published an important and timely paper on the government’s phonics screening check ‘Validity and sensitivity of the phonics screening check: implications for practice’ (Duff, F.J., Mengoni, S. E., Bailey, A.M. and Snowling, M.J.

It asks two ‘critical ‘ questions: First, how well do scores on the screening check ‘correlate with reading skills measured by objective tests’? And, second, ‘is the check sensitive?’, which refers to how sensitive is the check is in detecting children ‘showing early signs of being at-risk of encountering a reading difficulty?’

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PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is my article commenting on the three reports published in May 2014 - all of which bring important information to the table - but need to be read and understood in the broader context:


https://www.senmagazine.co.uk/articles/articles/senarticles/where-next-for-phonics

Thank you to the editor of SEN Magazine who very kindly published this ahead of the original intention so that the article would be as current as possible.

Quote:
Debbie Hepplewhite looks at the progress, practice and problems of synthetic phonics teaching in schools

Three different, but inter-related, reports on synthetic phonics were published in May 2014. All three reports are interesting and informative but, in some ways, they leave us with more questions than answers. They certainly raise serious questions regarding early literacy provision for children generally and for widely recognised vulnerable groups:

*do teachers embrace in full the systematic synthetic phonics teaching principles described in government guidance and in the core phonics programmes that they purport to follow?

*what does the widespread objection to the 40-word Year 1 phonics screening check actually reflect?

*what approach and programmes really serve children best, particularly those who are slower to learn or with special needs?

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2014 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reference to Dr Marlynne Grant's May 2014 report in 'American Thinker':

Quote:
June 20, 2014

Reading: The Con Continues

By Bruce Deitrick Price


http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/06/reading_the_con_continues.html

Quote:
In his famous 1955 book Why Johnny Can’t Read, Rudolf Flesch said he looked at all the research. There were 11 studies from 1913 to 1948; in all of them, phonics was superior.

Now, a century after that first study, Malkin Dare, a Canadian expert, summed up the latest research from the UK:

There is no such thing as a silver bullet in education, but systematic phonics comes pretty close. Doubters ought to read this report by Dr. Marlynne Grant, an English educational psychologist. Dr. Grant is actually reporting on two studies. The first is a two-year study of…children who were taught to read using systematic phonics. At the end of two years, when they were just six years old, all 30 children were fluent readers who could read well above grade level….The second study is a larger longitudinal study following up on a much-earlier cohort of 700 disadvantaged children who had been taught to read using systematic phonics but then received no special treatment. At the end of grade 8, the group as a whole could read significantly above the national average and not one child had difficulties with literacy.

What else would an intelligent person need to know? We have a hundred years of research showing that phonics is best. (That’s where you start with letters, sounds, and blends.) But our ideologically impaired Education Establishment schemes continuously against phonics and in favor of “whole words.” (That’s where you treat each word as a unitary design.)

The result is that you find, across the country, every possible degree of real phonics, adulterated phonics, and no phonics at all. There are school districts so benighted that they are almost entirely Whole Word, just as almost all school districts were 50 years ago.


And here Bruce points out the irony of the excuses which then leads to children being given an intervention based on multi-cueing reading strategies and not systematic phonics - Reading Recovery (which also happens in our context in England):

Quote:
What do they do with all the troubled readers? They have an array of excuses, crutches, and interventions for every age, all the way to high school, often including the expensive one-on-one approach known as Reading Recovery.

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