Monday, 12 May 2008

Test overload

The Daily Mail reports that MPs are warning that an obsession with testing threatens to damage a generation of schoolchildren. An influential report will recommend the national testing regime be scaled back.

In its first major report since forming last year, the Commons schools select committee is expected to say tomorrow that the current system is not fit for purpose. The MPs will point to concerns that children spend too much time being drilled to pass tests at the expense of real gains in their knowledge and understanding. Under the current mass testing, backed by the Government, pupils face compulsory tests in the three Rs at seven, 11 and 14.

The Labour MP told the BBC's Panorama programme: "There's something wrong with the amount of testing and assessment we're doing, the quality of testing and assessment and the unseen consequences for the whole school culture. It is still a culture where the success of a child, of a teacher, of a school, is linked to testing, testing, testing, that is the problem." He also attacked proposed reform of the Sats system, under which pupils would be tested at any time from the age of seven. Mr Sheerman said that would put them under continuous pressure.

The all-party committee is expected to recommend a greater role for teacher assessment and a consideration of a sampling approach which would see only a percentage of pupils tested each year.

But Schools Minister Jim Knight MP has defended Sats. He said: "I look at the fact that our results are improving year on year and standards in our schools are rising, and part of the reasons for that are tests and tables."

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