Are “Sats” tests harmful?
What do improving exam statistics really mean?
What effects are targets and league tables having on education?
These are some of the questions which Education by Numbers: the Tyranny of Testing seeks to answer. The book came about because I was uncovering, in my day job as a Times Educational Supplement reporter, copious evidence of the downsides of England’s test/target/league table regime of school accountability. I felt this had to be set against the system’s claimed benefits to answer the central question: is what has been deemed “high-stakes testing” helping or hindering the quality of pupils’ learning?
The book was also fuelled by the sense that there was more to a good education than a satisfactory set of exam results, and that teachers – and their pupils – were being let down by an accountability system, which I have called hyper-accountability, that always seemed to assume the worst of them. A more humane set-up, for pupils as well as for teachers, must, surely, be a possibility and should be fought for.
This website aims to provide more information for those interested in these issues, with references to the many studies of relevance to this subject, plus articles I have written and speeches I have made in connection with the book. Happy reading.