The study also revealed that more than half of teachers thought the test was “too difficult” and was largely unsuitable for high-ability pupils or those at the other end of the spectrum with special needs and English as a second language.
It also emerged that most schools were in favour of using a variety of different methods to teach reading – not an exclusive focus on the phonics system favoured by the Government.
The conclusions will be seen as a blow to the Coalition which has ordered state primaries across the country to introduce the new assessment.
As part of the reforms, pupils are supposed to accurately “decode” a list of 40 words using phonics – the back-to-basics method in which words are broken down into constituent parts.
The list includes a number of made-up words such as “voo”, “terg”, “bim”, “thazz” and “spron” to ensure pupils are properly employing the phonics system.
It is intended to mark out pupils struggling the most after a year of compulsory education – allowing teachers to target them with extra help.
The Department for Education insisted it had been used to identify some 235,000 pupils who were not up to the required standard in reading last summer.
But an evaluation of last year’s exam – based on interviews with 940 teachers and 844 literacy consultants – also found widespread apathy towards the tests.
- Phonics literacy test for young children ‘a waste of time and money’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Targets ‘risk pupil well-being’ (bbc.co.uk)