Schools ‘Drill Pupils For Tests’
Many schools spend too long drilling children to pass national tests instead of giving them a proper education, the government’s exams watchdog has warned.
Chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority Ken Boston said tests should not be used to achieve growth, but to measure it.
But Dr. Boston stopped short of calling for tests to be scrapped, as some teaching unions have.
The government said test preparations were key to pupils’ understanding.
Dr. Boston said the national curriculum tests, which pupils in England take at age 11 and 14, were perfect for measuring how they perform in English, maths and science. But he said they were not necessarily “equally fit” for all other assessment purposes. He added: “Fundamentally, we must focus on sustained growth in educational performance through effective teaching of sound curriculum.
“Tests are the means to measure and report that growth. They are not fundamentally the means to achieve it.
“The key to driving up performance at Key Stage 2 (age 11) and Key Stage 3 (age 14) is better teaching based on diagnostic assessment and personalised learning, not more practice drill in taking tests.”
In August government figures showed a slight rise in the proportion of 11-year-olds reaching the expected levels of achievement in three core subjects. Some 80% of pupils reached the expected standard in English, 77% in maths and 88% in science. But they also showed that four out of 10 children failed to achieve the expected level in at least one subject.
Schools minister Lord Adonis said: “Despite some popular misconceptions, children do not spend their days chained to the desk preparing for Sats.”
He claimed that the tests for 11-year-olds “take up precisely 0.14% of Key Stage 2 teaching time” – meaning sitting the actual tests. He added: “As for preparation time, the best preparation for any test is to understand the concepts being tested – mainly reading, writing and arithmetic. “That is the very purpose of teaching in the basics. So it is hard to argue that preparation is wasted time.”
Story from BBC NEWS