The above chart is for California and whilst it may look impressive at first glance the proportion of readers at 3rd grade who are considered to be proficient in the reading test is only 44%. However, this is still not a true reflection of reading ability as the county results vary considerably :
This exciting new website is designed to encourage younger readers and is packed with features such as quizzes, inspiration sections and downloadable content and reading comprehensions. There are some great tips for both teachers and parents and interesting activities for young children. You can also buy the Read it Yourself books direct from the Ladybird website.
The six book challenge is a new and exciting initiative sponsored by the reading agency. The idea is to support less confident readers and offer them incentives to improve their skills. Participants are asked to keep a diary of six books and then enter these for certificates and chances to win prizes. I think this is an excellent, well supported idea – for example - Mike Gayle will be publishing a story called Men at Work for World Book Day in support of the scheme.
Whilst I may not agree with many of the new Government’s policies there is one I am a strong supporter of – more focus on literacy and in particular reading and even more in a particular literacy assessment. I remember being a child in primary school and pretty much the whole day was taken up with the 3 Rs – Reading, Riting and Rithmatic ! I can still remember the excitement when were able to do something just a little bit different such as history. I think this has been a failing of consecutive Governments – the focus SHOULD be on reading and writing in the early years because without these basic skills how else is a child meant to access the rest of the curriculum. The concept of a test for all 6 year olds is sound – it gives all teachers a standardised assessment of where a child is. A group test – as suggested by the Government also provides an insight into how well groups of pupils are performing in relation to their peers across the country. The output data from these literacy assessments is hugely useful in identifying which pupils need additional support and the effectiveness of literacy intervention strategies being used.
Scientific Learning did some research on tracking literacy development and found that regular testing and intervention with suitable strategies is important. Checkout their video about what they found :
This reading series have had great success in the USA and have been put together by teachers with pupils who do consistently well on standardised assessments. However, there is always a danger that the pupils are being taught to the test and so any standardised data that come from tests that can be seen in advance by teachers should be treated with caution.
Here is a short clip from the Rock and Learn series – maybe you can decide for yourself about their standardised tests.
Mr Andrews has also proposed a literacy and numeracy test for teachers but it is not yet clear if this is for current practising teachers or teacher trainees. The WAG decision is no real surprise as Wales lagged terribly behind many stated in the recent Pisa tests. Interestingly enough, the day after the outrage expressed by WAG about the Pisa results the BBC disclosed a funding gap of over £600 per pupil in Wales compared with England.
So it seems that a new reading test for Wales is on the way – it will be interesting to see how WAG will deal with the bilingual nature of the country in the assessment.
Lindsay Paterson who is professor of educational policy at the University of Edinburgh, said that as things stood, teacher training courses were “simply not intellectually challenging enough”. It is currently understood that the teachers will have to pass literacy tests and writing tests when they apply for teacher training courses.