At the Scottish Learning Festival last week I attended an interesting seminar on a new (to me) assessment of reading with which I was very impressed. It replaces the Neale Anaylis to some extent.

Maggie Snowling  heads the team which developed this assessment. She is a well known proponent of the links between phonological processing ability and literacy acquisition and highly regarded.

The York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension (YARC) enables teachers to assess their pupils’ reading skills from an early age through to secondary school. It focuses not just on decoding and sight reading, but crucially on reading comprehension.

The assessments at passage level concentrate on reading for meaning, enabling pupils’ reading and reading comprehension to be regularly assessed and progress easily monitored. Questions linked to each passage demand the use of deduction and inference to arrive at the answers, giving teachers vital information about their pupils’ skills far beyond decoding and retrieval of information.

In addition to the passages for pupils, YARC also includes four short tests:

• letter-sound knowledge,

• sound deletion (supported by pictures)

• sound isolation

• early word recognition.

These are specifically designed for five and six year olds, although data will be available for the age range four to seven years. Assessing alphabetic knowledge, phonological skills and word reading, these tests are especially useful at identifying any underlying difficulties in phonological awareness and the acquisition of letter-sounds that could hamper progress in pupils’ reading.

The Passage Reading set comprises two equivalent passages for each year from Reception (P1) to Y6 (P7), each with eight comprehension questions of increasing complexity. A version of GL Assessment’s Single Word Reading Test is also included as a benchmark test.

The secondary reading tests include Passage Reading to assess reading comprehension skills, Reading Fluency and Single Word Reading.

Well worth checking out in my opinion.