As part of the Catch Up Literacy package we encourage schools to use standardised test scores to help them in identifying which pupils need additional one-to-one support and we recommend the ‘Salford Test’ in particular, now named Salford Sentence Reading and Comprehension Test (SSRCT). Here at Catch Up we also provide tracking tools so that schools can use pre- and post-intervention test scores to measure the difference that the additional support is making. As well as suggesting that schools use SSRCT, we have also used the test for many years here at Catch Up for our own literacy research and development projects as a way of measuring pupil progress. So, SSRCT can be used as a screening test that has the advantage of having been standardised so that progression can also be measured.
Catch Up Literacy is a structured one-to-one literacy intervention for learners who find reading difficult and it includes a very strong emphasis on comprehension. We have found the SSRCT to be particularly suitable because it also includes a comprehension score. In line with this, it is really pleasing to see that the newly published version of the test now includes comprehension in its title! But which will probably still be referred to as ‘the Salford Test’.
For over 20 years Catch Up has been recommending that schools use the SSRCT. Over that time ‘the Salford Test’ has been updated several times so that it takes account of curriculum, teaching and learning changes but the various versions of the test have continued to be easy to administer with the pupil data being reliable, valid and easy to access. The newly published SSRCT is the result of the latest comprehensive review and development process. This has included updating the test standardisation and extending the age range of pupils so it is suitable for pupils from 5 years to 16 years of age, which is particularly suitable for our current research with Reception-age pupils. This age spread means the SSRCT can be used across several year groups instead of having different tests for different year groups which also helps staff who only need to be familiar with the one test.
The sentences used reflect the correct level from the National Curriculum. Another improvement is the additional listening comprehension exercise, which can be used with pupils who are unable to read the first sentence in order to still get a measure of their understanding. This feature uses a three point scale to provide a useful feel of how a learner is progressing even if they are still working towards a more formal reading age assessment.
The test can be used by any professional who is working with pupils in schools and elsewhere, including teachers and Teaching Assistants. We have also trained research assistants to administer the test where appropriate. The user manual gives very clear guidance on how to administer the test so staff can be trained quickly but with the confidence of knowing that the test will be administered to a consistently high standard. The manual also provides full information, which is clearly set out, on how to use the scores to produce reading ages or standardised scores. There is also technical, background information (for those who are interested) about the reliability and the validity of the test. The test is easy to administer and takes only a few minutes.
One excellent feature that has been kept from the original test, and that is particularly relevant for pupils who may be struggling, is that it is still a one-to-one test which pupils find to be very positive and supportive. A pupil’s attitude and confidence can have a very real impact on their learning. For a pupil who already feels they are dropping behind and ‘failing’, sitting a group test can be a very negative experience so a high quality, one-to-one test can provide a much more positive experience. The test is designed so that the test is stopped after a pupil makes six errors and is around their ‘natural ceiling’. Again, the pupil’s experience is much more positive since it avoids a pupil having to work to the end of the test and having to tackle questions that are far too difficult which can lead to the pupil experiencing failure unnecessarily.
Overall, whilst still being very manageable, SSRCT will provide an even wider range of high quality information about a learner as a reader and for an extended age range. And in a very learner-friendly way. This is a test that we have been waiting for here at Catch Up!
, baseline assessment
, key stage 1
, key stage 2
, key stage 3