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Perils of abolishing assessment;Letter

HEADTEACHERS of schools with Year 6 pupils recently received a communication from the Department for Education and Employment concerning publication of end of key stage 2 performance. From summer 1999, test results - but not teacher assessments in English, maths and science - will comprise the core data.

Historical performance for 1996-99 will also be published - again this will comprise test results but not teacher assessment. The long struggle for equal status of teacher and test assessment, which once seemed to have been won, may now have been lost.

Children may perform differently in teacher and test assessment, the latter is restricted both in time and curriculum. Most of our national published assessments, including GCSE and some components of A-level, include an element of continuous assessment. Why is this to be excluded from key stage 2?

Removal of teacher assessments from performance tables will have inevitable consequences: teaching to the tests and revision in Year 6 will undoubtedly increase. It will be essential, in order to meet compulsory targets, that 11-year-old children become expert exam-takers.

Disaffection with school for less academic children will increase, possibly more among boys than girls.

Pressures on time for the foundation subjects will worsen and children will perceive them to be of lower status, despite their high appeal, and teachers will question the need for ongoing assessment in the foundation subjects if their results are not valued in the core subjects.

Raising standards must, rightly, be seen as the major drive within schools. However, too narrow a course will ultimately fail to produce the skilled, motivated and well-rounded individuals which our society needs and of whom a good education system should be justifiably proud.

Hilary Vaughan


Holbrook primary school

School Lane

Horsham, West Sussex

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