Most newspapers have included opinion pieces on the testing regime in recent days, with few articles dissenting from what seems now to be the mainstream view that serious reform is needed. This, of course, has been triggered in large part by the chaos of this summer’s marking, overseen by the now-sacked contractor ETS Europe. Ed Balls, in an article in The Independent, argued that the administrative problems surrounding this year’s Sats should not encourage people to lose sight of the “bigger picture”, which is that the tests have been an important lever in “driving up standards”. There was also a defence of assessment and target-settingRead More →

Yesterday saw near blanket coverage of concerns about the testing system, fuelled largely by a report from the Civitas think tank, which found 90 per cent of secondary teachers refusing to trust the results of pupils who took the tests in year six. Teaching to the test was widely blamed. Admittedly, the sample was small: only just over 100 staff were questioned, as ministers were quick to point out. However, the survey is in line with research among science teachers published earlier this year for the Wellcome Trust, (a summary of which is here) which found that most were happier to trust teacher assessment judgements than test results, withRead More →

Researching an article on the effect on schools’  test performance of special educational needs pupils last week, I came across a report written two years ago by the Commons Education and Skills Select Committee on SEN education.   I found this replete with concerns about how the standards agenda – the drive, supported by league tables, targets and Ofsted inspections, to raise pupils’ average test and exam results – may be marginalising children with special needs.   The danger should be fairly obvious: schools which are going to be judged by their results may be discouraged to take on children who might be seen to beRead More →