Councils seek middle way on national tests

5th May 2000 at 01:00
LOCAL authorities remain divided over the possible introduction of externally set and marked tests as the campaign against standardised assessment gathers pace. Councils and unions, however, agree on improved assessment within the 5-14 programme.

Clackmannan believes standardised tests have a place in providing "hard" information and Glasgow is piloting external testing in two areas of the city.

But Perth and Kinross flatly rejects them, a view shared in neighbouring Angus. Renfrewshire prefers "external moderation of teachers' judgments" although it warns about costs.

May Ferries, depute headteacher at Victoria primary in Glasgow and a past president of the Educational Institute of Scotland, writing in today's TES Scotland (Platform, page 18), says teachers and parents were right to reject compulsory tests 10 years ago and should do so again.

Ms Ferrie adds: "As schools are forced to meet higher and higher targets they will have no alternative but to drill the children on past papers."

Perth and Kinross echoes her remarks, arguing that the Inspectorate's agenda "is more to do with target-setting, value added and making misleading and meaningless comparisons between schools, rather than focusing the system on the needs of the individual learner".

Clackmannan backs assessment "grounded in the professional judgment of teaching staff" but argues the case for standardised tests on communication, numeracy and problem-solving and thinking skills at the end of P3, P6 and S2.

This would provide "strong information on pupil performance to inform school, local authority and national planning".

"Parents and pupils themselves need this information," Jim Goodall, head of educational development, states.

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