Academic welcomes early reading screening test

Griffith University early literacy expert Dr Michelle Neumann welcomes a national early reading screening check announced by Education Minister Simon Birmingham earlier this year.

As part of her research, Dr Neumann developed and validated an Emergent Literacy Assessment app in 2016 which tests alphabet knowledge (letter names and sounds).

She is now extending the app to include other important early literacy skills such as phonological awareness, print concepts, and early writing.

“These early skills are all key predictors of future reading ability,’’ she says.

“Teaching children how to read is a balanced approach and Australian teachers follow the Australian Curriculum’s three main strands of language, literature, and literacy.

“This ensures students are taught cuing systems such as visual knowledge of letters and sounding out words, structural skills such as the way language is written with grammar and punctuation and how to comprehend and make meaning out of the words.”

Dr Neumann believes phonics is a strong component of the Australian curriculum.

“Teachers are doing a great job of assessing students to find out where their strengths and gaps in knowledge lie – whether it’s decoding, structural, or comprehension. Then they apply the best learning activities to meet individual student needs.”

“But an early literacy screening test on entry to school would be a great way to determine what children already know and where needs lie so schools can be better supported to help children become successful readers and writers,’’ she said.

A phonics check is part of a suite of education reforms under review by the Federal Government.