Primary Education News

26 Sep '14

News Did primary school teachers in England game the phonics check?

Marks scored by primary school pupils showed a remarkably similar and unusual profile until the Department for Education changed the rules. Were teachers cheating or was something else going on?The phonics check, a simple test of reading given to five and six year-olds at the end of year one of primary school in England, comprises words and pseudo-words that children are expected to pronounce. In 2012 and 2013, the Department for Education announced in advance what the pass mark was to be. Looking at the chart below, with the yellow line for 2012 and blue line for 2013 results, can you guess what the pass mark out of 40 was?Teachers administer the screening check one-on-one with each pupil and record whether their response to each of the 40 words is correct. This mark is from 0 to 40 and for 2014, as in previous years, the threshold to determine whether a pupil had reached the expected standard was 32. In 2014, unlike previous years, this mark was not communicated to schools until after the screening check was completed. Figure 1 shows the distribution of the phonics check scores in each year from 2012 to 2014. In both 2012 and 2013, there was a spike in the distribution at a score of 32, the expected standard for those pupils who took part. However, this spike is not seen in 2014. Continue reading...

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