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Campaign calls for new system of measuring children's reading ability

17/11/2016 Joanna

A new approach to measuring the reading capabilities of primary school children has been proposed by a campaign group.

The Read On. Get On. campaign, which is spearheaded by the National Literacy Trust, has underlined the need for a revamped and more consistent measurement system for childhood literacy, which takes into account the range of skills needed to develop a love of reading and to read well.

SAT results from summer 2016 have demonstrated a sharp decline in the number of 11-year-olds reading at the expected level for their age, falling from 80 per cent in 2015 to 66 per cent in 2016. Reading was also shown to lag behind writing (74 per cent), grammar, spelling and punctuation (72 per cent) and maths (70 per cent) in this respect.

According to the Read On. Get On. campaign, variations in assessment data and gaps in effective measures are making year-on-year comparisons of reading abilities impossible, with many schools and parents believing this year's SAT results did not reflect the progress their children had made in reading.

As such, the measures it is proposing will reflect a wider range of potential factors that influence reading capabilities at age 11, including both cognitive and affective processes such as motivation, enjoyment and engagement.

This follows recent research showing that pupils who enjoy reading very much are three times as likely to read above the level expected for their age as those who do not enjoy reading at all.

The National Literacy Trust's director Jonathan Douglas said: "In order to support our children's reading and ensure they have the skills they need to succeed, we must be able to effectively measure how they are doing.

"The recent SATs results suggest that while skills such as decoding can be more effectively measured through the tests, the complex process of reading for meaning and understanding is less successfully measured in this way."

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