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Balancing assessment and tests;Letter

I have to respond to David Hawker's misleading letter about my article (TES, February 20). First, it was not an account of the Black and Wiliam study; it was a summary of a book based on a wide range of research which argues the same thing as Black and Wiliam.

Second, I do not assert that national curriculum tests are preventing teachers from carrying out diagnostic and formative assessment, but rather that a strong emphasis on testing leads to the "relative neglect" of other forms of assessment.

Third, he says I implicitly claim that national tests have only negative effects on what children learn and how they are taught. This is nonsense. I am one of the few researchers to state regularly that the national curriculum and its assessment programme has had some particular benefits in teaching and assessment practice in primary schools.

Finally, it is simply not true to say that the national assessment programme provides feedback to learners.

The point I was making is that we need to keep the right balance between testing and teachers' informal assessment with feedback to pupils; perhaps the Curriculum and Qualification Authority would like to produce some guidelines for teachers on the latter.

Professor CAROLINE GIPPS Dean of research Institute of Education London WC1

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