"All things are wearisome, more than one can say." - Ecclesiastes 1:8

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Teaching to the test (again - sorry)

Perhaps by the time I've retired and am happily dribbling away in a home for the bewildered in Duntocher or somewhere, eventually the tide will have turned/pendulum will have swung, [delete/insert cliche of choice] on the whole death by asessment culture in modern education. Presently there are signs of glacial movement, like the criticism of SATS from the head of a school in Engerland that actually did rather well in them:
"Lorraine Cullen, head of Hall Meadow Primary School, Kettering, said drilling pupils to pass only achieved short-term success.

It follows high-profile attacks on the existing examinations system which critics claim forces schools to "teach to the test" to maximise their scores."
No doubt people will say no-one's forcing them - and this particular headteacher claims they don't do much of it - but I wish people would understand the bureaucratic inevitability of it; if there are tests, people will teach to them - period. The institutional pressure to do so is almost irresistible. If you don't want a narrowing of the real curriculum, then the amount of formal assessment in schools has to be reduced. It's as simple as that. Perhaps this sort of thing is a sign that the penny's beginning to drop. On the other hand, the Torygraph wouldn't have repeated the opinions of a headteacher whose school performed badly in the SATS, now would it?

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