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A New Era for Reading Assessment at NOPA

posted 6 Feb 2016, 01:58 by Craig Nicholson   [ updated 6 Feb 2016, 01:59 ]

North Ormesby Primary Academy is pleased to announce that it now has a new reading assessment scheme for Key Stage 1 and 2 children in school. Another test from the same institution is already being used within school for the Early Years Assessments. 

The York Assessment of Reading Comprehension (YARC) tests are a more up to date, comprehensive way to monitor and assess reading age and overall reading progression throughout primary school. It is much more thorough and prescriptive than the Salford tests – its predecessor in our establishment. Having commenced the first of two rounds of testing for the academic year, we conclude so far that, unlike the Salford test, the YARC has much more to offer to aid assessment. It does, for example, give a reading rate score as an outcome which is massively advantageous in the way that we have used it: as a guide to pinpoint those children who lack fluency by perhaps reading robotically or by ignoring punctuation. It has also already helped us select the children who may struggle when it comes to SATs as they would presumably take longer to read the text prior to completing the answer paper, thus limiting the allotted time. This has allowed us to quickly assemble small support groups to work closely with staff to focus on catching up and improving fluency in time for the upcoming examinations in the summer term.

The two other scores the test provides are the reading rate and comprehension age. These results flag up which children read fluently but do not fully understand the content as well as the children who read below age related expectation but can easily deduce meaning from the text. From these results staff can observe which children need to find more of a balance between the two and assisting them in doing so. The aim here is to give our students the support they need exactly where they need it for maximum impact.

The only negative perceived by staff was that some of the texts were non-fiction texts and the children found the accompanying questions easier than the fiction. This is because a higher percentage of the questions focused on fact retrieval rather than questions which supported inference and reasoning skills.

Other highlights noted by staff were the benefits of the tests, used in conjunction with the Early Years Assessments, in assisting the learning of NTE (new to English) and EAL (English as an additional language) children. The test draws attention to where the specific gaps are in the learning of phonics as well as emphasising the phonetic sounds that may be affected by any language barrier that may exist, or where well spoken English is heavily accented. From this we can also tailor-make group sessions for appropriate support, particularly for the NTE children, so we can make the new language transition as comfortable as possible.

The second stage of testing is due in the latter weeks of the summer term and we will be proud to share the progress of the children with you then!

Lyndsey Frost (Teaching Assistant) - 1st February 2016