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Proposed government reading test 'will distort how subject is taught'

November 30 2010

Proposed government reading test 'will distort how subject is taught'

Government proposals to give children a phonics-based reading progress check at the age of six have been criticised by one expert.

Henrietta Dombey, emeritus professor of literacy in primary education at the University of Brighton and the convenor of the United Kingdom Literacy Association early literacy task group, said the test being proposed is a "very crude" exam of the kind that were discredited in the 1980s.

"The root of the problem is that the English spelling system is very complicated. A non-word reading test has various disadvantages," she explained.

"It doesn't tell you about children's progress, it is likely to distort how teachers teach reading and likely to encourage teachers to place much more emphasis on sounding out non-words than on actually reading real texts; that is going to hamper children learning to read."

The best way to measure reading progress is the way it is currently being done - by assessing reading aloud and asking pupils to take part in a simple reading test.

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