16 July 2018

South Australia’s trial of England’s year one phonics check shows why we need it

This article discusses the results of the South Australian government's trial of a phonics check at the end of year. While the proposal to introduce this check into Australian schools created considerable controversy, the authors argue that the results of the trial of the check confirm the need for its introduction. The trial showed that most students found the test items difficult, with children in reception (the first year of school) reading items correctly on 11 of the 40 items on average while those in year one had an average score of 22 out of 40. The year one performance was low relative to similarly aged English children. In England 81% of year one children achieved at least 32 out of 40, while in the South Australian schools only 15% performed at this level. Teachers involved in the trial reported that all children, regardless of their reading ability were interested in the task and did not appear anxious or stressed by the test. The authors argue this evidence provides strong support for the implementation of a year one phonics check in all Australian schools.