Tuesday 31 January 2017

17% of children good at phonics but not good at reading? How come?

Here are some raw stats about the present year 3 children in state schools in England:

At the end of Year 1, 91% of those children reached expected level in the Phonics Screening Check.

At the end of Year 2, 74% of those children reached expected level in Reading.

In other words, 17% of the cohort were good at phonics but not good enough at reading.

Really? Why or how could that possibly happen? Surely phonics helps you to read. Well not for that 17%.

(Note: some people from the phonics school of teaching-to-read are claiming that it's bad phonics teaching that is holding children back. Really? Surely that 17% got very good phonics teaching because they reached the expected level. Only 9% of the cohort didn't reach the expected level. )

So is the fact that 26% of children didn't reach the expected level a problem? Is the fact that 17% of children were good at phonics but not good at Reading a problem?

Well, apparently it's not a problem because no government minister, no national newspaper is making a fuss about it.

I suggest it's a massive problem and it's to do with whether children get enough opportunity to read for pleasure, to read widely and often, to talk about the books they are reading.

Here's the link to my Dear Justine Greening article today:


Here's Professor Stephen Krashen's reply to my article in the Guardian:

Michael Rosen explains the difference between a phonics test and a reading test ("Dear Justine Greening, whatever happened to ‘eradicating illiteracy’? Jan. 31). In a phonics tests, children pronounce words presented to them in a list. In a reading test, children have to understand what they read.
Of great interest is the consistent finding that heavy phonics training only helps children do better on phonics tests. It has no impact on reading tests. Research also tells us that the best way to get better on reading tests is reading: The best predictor of reading achievement, in study after study, is the amount of recreational reading children have done.
The problem is not insufficient phonics teaching, as some claim. It is insufficient access to books. For many children of poverty, their only source of books is the library. Research also tells us that better libraries are associated with better reading test scores. The implication is obvious: Invest in libraries and librarians, not in phonics tests.
Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

original article: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jan/31/justine-greening-literacy-schools-phonics-teaching

Impact of phonics on tests.
Harris, A. and Serwer, B. 1966. The CRAFT Project: Instructional time in reading research. The Reading Research Quarterly 2: 37-57.
Garan, E. (2001). Beyond the smoke and mirrors: A critique of the National Reading Panel report on phonics. Phi Delta Kappan 82, no. 7 (March), 500-506.
Garan, E. (2002) Resisting Reading Mandates. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Krashen, S. 2009. Does intensive decoding instruction contribute to reading comprehension? Knowledge Quest 37 (4): 72-74.
Pleasure reading.
McQuillan, J. (1998). The literacy crisis: False claims and real solutions. Portsmouth: Heinemann.
Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Libraries Unlimited.
Krashen, S., Lee, S.Y. and McQuillan, J. 2012. Is the library important? Multivariate studies at the national and international level. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 8(1): 26-36.
Lance, K. (1994). The impact of school library media centers on academic achievement. In C. Kuhlthau (Ed.) School Library Media Annual, vol. 12. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited. pp. 188-19