Saturday, August 12, 2023

Phonics screening


Yesterday, 11.8.2023, there were the following tweets and my comments.


Some schools in England start preparing children in January to reach the target of 80% of the class getting 32 out of 40 correct responses to alien and real words in the June test (sorry, Screening Check!).

The nonsense words were; woid, ump, proy, luft, shrop etc.

My thoughts:

I have said it several times and I will say it again; I don’t agree with creating nonsense words as there are enough words in the English language to test kids. But, I thought this is another American or perhaps British invention to get teachers to continue arguing.

But all the same, I used a list of nonsense/pseudo words to prove that college students who were taught the pronunciation of sounds of letters wrongly could still read the nonsense words correctly and read fluently. How were they able to read the nonsense words correctly? This is what I asked our education guru Paul Thomas who told the world that he could navigate research to find out. That was 3 years ago. Does anyone know how a kid learns to read? Definitely not! Listen to the two college students who pronounced the letters with extraneous sounds but were able to read all the pseudo words.

If schools are teaching nonsense words in kindergarten or grade one, then there really is something wrong with the system. I checked on the internet and saw that londonjohn is not exaggerating. This is a problem with the screening test and not with teaching phonics.

Systematic synthetic phonics has nothing to do with these nonsense words.

Paul Thomas Tweeted:

Advocates of the phonics screening tests claim that they are fun. In fact, for fluent readers, it can destroy their recognition as competent readers. In one school example, a boy who came to school reading, and who continued to flourish as a fluent reader, scored 2/40! Since the test includes nonsense words in the quest to focus on decoding (he read “elt” as “let,” “sarps” as “rasp,” and “chab” as “cab,” to foreground a few! What he seemed to be doing was re-arranging the letters or sounds and reconstructing them into recognizable words that he knew made sense. Meanwhile, another child whom the teacher regarded as not being a fluent reader was able to sound out the nonsense words as well as regular words and achieve a score of 16/40, all without knowing their meaning. Thus, the raw scores from the test of each child give us no information about them as readers and how they can make meaning from text; they simply show how they decode words out of context.


Luqman Michel:

Why are teachers getting excited about what Paul Thomas is tweeting? Because he says that he can navigate research? This is nonsense – taking an isolated case of one kid who has misunderstood what is required and highlighting it as a problem with phonics.

My thoughts now:

I did not know that phonics screening test can destroy their recognition as competent readers. This is pure nonsense.

If they had retested the kid by explaining that those are nonsense words would the kid have read them correctly?

Paul says that the list of 40 words included nonsense words as well as regular words. Could the first kid who is a fluent reader read only 2 of all the words which include 20 regular words. This is definitely misleading.


I wonder how Paul will make meaning of the nonsense words. I definitely cannot.


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