Are You Concerned About The Phonic Screening Check 2014?

This year the phonics screening test can be taken at any time during the week commencing 16th June. If a child is absent during that week, they may take the check any time until Friday 27th June.
What Is The Pass Mark For The 2014 Phonic Screening Check?
Previously we all knew that to 'pass' the test children had to score 32 out of 40. For the 2014 check we will not know the pass mark until after the phonics screening test has been administered. The threshold mark for the phonics screening check will not be included with the check materials. Instead, the threshold mark will be available on the DfE's website at on Monday 30 June. The reason for this change seems to be that very few children scored 31 in previous years and there was a spike in the number of children scoring 32.
On a recent course I was discussing this spike in the number of children scoring 32 with other Year 1 teachers. One commented 'Well, if they can score 31, they can jolly well score 32!' If the difference between a child passing or failing the check is one small mistake then why shouldn't the child be given the chance to read a word again in order to pass the check?
Another teacher commented that children either 'get it' or they don't. She said her children either scored in the low 20s or over 32, with very few in between.
We speculated on where the pass mark would be. The majority of teachers felt the mark would be higher by about 2 marks, but some felt it would be lower.
At the end of the day we don't know and this is making us all nervous. There is so much at stake because the results will appear on RAISE online, OFSTED use it as an indication of how successful the school is in teaching early reading, and some teachers will have a percentage target of children passing the check as part of their appraisal arrangements?
I think there will be more careful monitoring this year of school's scores and to ensure that the results reflect children's unaided work. Ten percent of schools in each local authority will be visited to see if they are following the security arrangements and administering the test correctly. Maladministration of the test can lead to the results for all, or some, of the children being annulled.
How I'm Preparing For The Phonic Screening Check
I'm carrying on using my pseudo word cards as part of my practice for the test. I've been focussing on the different ways of representing one sound. On Friday we looked at /or/aw/ and /au/. The children each had 3 sound cards with those digraphs written on. I looked out all the /or/aw/ and /au/ cards in the phase 3, 4, and 5 pseudo word cards. I held up each word in turn, the children looked for which of the /or/ digraphs they could see and held up their matching sound card. They then read the word. It worked because one of the things children forget to do when reading the alien words on the test is look for the digraphs.
By Barbara Townley

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