The uk government have just announced the roll out of tests for 5-6 yr olds to check that they can do phonics properly. The test takes the form of the children being taken out of a class for ten minutes to read a series of real and made up words.
I object to this on a number of levels. Firstly, as a parent I don't want my daughters having to go through tests at five. No matter how you dress it up, if theres a test sooner or later schools will be judged on it and if school are judged on it they will change how they present it to the kids. I trust the teachers I give my daughters to and I know they will tell me if they're doing well or need a bit of a boost.
Secondly, I don't believe this test will help reading standards in the slightest. All this test will do is suggest whether kids and put letter sound together. Being able to read in a functional way is much more than that and so really all this test is doing is forcing schools to teach reading in one particular style. Phonics is good but it's not the god of all reading techniques. My three year old is already learning to read and it's got bog all to do with phonics coz we haven't been 'teaching' her. Phonics is massively flawed in some respects particularly if you have a regional accent.
So what is this really about? Is it about making sure all kids can read (which this test won't do)? is it about a government who fundamentally doesn't trust teachers? Is it a London centric educational establishment trying to undermine regional variations? I don't know but I bet it's got a hell of a lot more to do with political whim than what's best for kids. For goodness sake, the counties with the best educational outcomes don't even start formal education until seven but we're going to be testing our kids two years earlier!
Well, one thing this has done is given me a question to ask the primary schools I'm going to be visiting in the run up to applying for my three year olds place for next year: Dear schools, I don't want my daughter taking that test, or SATs for that matter, do I have the option to opt them out?