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Neale reading analysis is sound

I am writing in response to your article "Reading test that failed London boroughs may be unreliable" (TES, September 20).

All NFER-Nelson assessments have a development plan and it is within this framework that the Neale analysis of reading ability (NARA) is being restandardised. Your first paragraph is, therefore, untrue. The standardisation of NARA has, in fact, been timed to coincide with the very substantial work we are undertaking on the redevelopment of the British Ability Scales and the Phonological Assessment Battery. This will facilitate improved identification, diagnosis and educational planning for children who have reading difficulties.

The insinuation that the results of NARA may be inaccurate and prejudicial when used to test children with special needs is unsubstantiated. It is also untrue to assert that NARA is used in all tribunals. Nevertheless, it is precisely because we are aware of the growing importance of NARA in local education authority and special needs tribunal decision-making that we decided to ensure that the norms were completely up-to-date.

The reference to the Gregory and Gregory paper in Educational psychology in practice ignored the fact that in the same journal there is also a paper written in response by Halliwell and Feltham which answers the questions raised and shows that the case is unproven.

The fact that you did not talk to us, the test publisher, seems somewhat misguided. Although the NFER often undertakes development work on our behalf, it is NFER-Nelson who should have been consulted in the research for this article. We could then have discussed all the above points and thus saved the unnecessary concern to users that this article may have caused.

MICHAEL JACKSON

Managing director

NFER-Nelson

Windsor

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