Trends in Reading at Eight

Ian Schagen, Greg Brooks, Peggy Nastat

01 December 1997

In March 1995, NFER carried out a survey of reading attainment in year 3 classes in England and Wales. The survey followed up similar surveys carried out in 1987 and 1991. The key finding of the 1991 survey was that the average score had fallen by 2.4 standardised score points, or about six months of reading age, since 1987.

The key finding of the 1995 survey was that the average score rose between 1991 and 1994, and in 1995 had returned to the 1987 level.

Key Findings

  • The girls' "average score was significantly higher than that of the boys'".
  • Children who had been in schools for 30 months or less - who were mainly summer-born - had a significantly lower average score than others.
  • Children receiving free school meals had a significantly lower average score than those not receiving free meals.
  • The importance for attainment of home support for literacy was shown by several findings, including the higher average scores of pupils whose homes contained larger numbers of books.
  • There was a close and mutually confirmatory relationship between test scores and the children''s 1994 key stage 1 reading test levels.
  • About a fifth of the children said they never read for fun outside school, and this low frequency of leisure reading was associated with low achievement.

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