The gossip on the Phonics Screening Check front is that 'the results are all over the place'. Oh dear, the very worst scenario of all for exam- and test-crazy governments: a national test whose results are so varied that it's hard to deduce a pattern.
This is only a rumour, but it rather seems as if the results coming in from the schools are causing the needle to whizz to and from - there are schools down in the 30 per cent pass rate and others in the 80 per cent pass rate. Why? No one's quite sure. Are the 80 per cent passers the ones who have most successfully taught to the test? If so, what does that prove? That the school will produce the most and the best readers? That can't be shown or proven yet because the phonics check is not a 'reading' test. It simply and only tests the decoding of individual words. That is not 'reading'.
And what about the 30 per cent pass rate schools? What will that show? That this is a school that won't or can't produce readers? That seems like a dodgy conclusion, given that the average rate of being able to read WITHOUT exclusive, intensive, systematic, synthetic phonics is 80 per cent.
And we must beware of false conclusions here. I suspect, like the story in the Independent that I put up here yesterday, more and more experts will try to claim that failure at the PSC show 'reading problems'. I suggest that we will have to work very hard to point out that the only problems they could possibly show are 'phonics problems' which is a different matter. As we know, it's quite possible for children to be good readers and fail the PSC.