Validity and sensitivity of the phonics screening check : implications for practice
Background: Introduced in June 2012, the phonics screening check aims to assess whether 6-year-old children are meeting an appropriate standard in phonic decoding and to identify children struggling with phonic skills. Aims: We investigated whether the check is a valid measure of phonic skill and is sensitive in identifying children at risk of reading difficulties. Sample: We obtained teacher assessments of phonic skills for 292 six-year-old children and additional psychometric data for 160 of these children. Methods: Teacher assessment data were accessed from schools via the local authority; psychometric tests were administered by researchers shortly after the phonics screening check. Results: The check was strongly correlated with other literacy skills and was sensitive in identifying at-risk readers. So too were teacher judgements of phonics. Conclusions: Although the check fulfils its aims, we argue that resources might be better focused on training and supporting teachers in their ongoing monitoring of phonics.