Minister for school standards, Nick Gibb, is clear. Children who pass the phonics screening test are ‘on track to be fluent readers in primary school’.
But passing phonics screening doesn’t guarantee children will reach the expected reading standard at the end of primary school. Figures posted last week showed some children who Gibb said were on track towards reading fluency fell off the road at the end of Key Stage Two (KS2).
88% of pupils who met the expected phonics standard when they were in Year One met the expected standard in this year’s KS2 reading test. 12% failed.
62% of pupils meeting the expected standard in phonics in Year Two having failed to do so in Year One, went on to reach the expected reading standard this year. 38% failed.
Conversely, 30% of pupils who didn’t pass phonics screening in either Year One or Two went on to reach the expected standard.
Decoding, which is what the phonics test checks, is not reading. Reading fluently involves comprehension as well as being able to sound out words. Passing a phonics test doesn’t mean those who pass will meet the expected reading standard despite all the waffle produced by the Department for Education (DfE).
Perhaps it’s time to stop wasting money and time on mandatory phonics screening. It has no educational worth and tells teachers nothing they don’t already know.