Flaws persist in tests for Year 3;Letter

19th March 1999 at 00:00
I HAVE just received a copy of the Qualification and Curriculum Authority's guidelines, Making use of optional tests, and I find that my worst fears about the quality of the tests, and of the whole testing process, are confirmed.

In the section on the Year 3 mathematics test, it states that "In question 3 ... even higher-attaining children such as Michelle .... failed to recognise that the size of the rectangle needed to be different rather than just the orientation." This, despite the fact that the question merely asked for two different rectangles. Surely Michelle would have every justification in claiming that she had drawn two different rectangles and that, if they wanted two of different sizes, they should have said so? The question appears to have been set to catch out seven-year-old children, rather than to find out what they know.

In fact, on looking at Michelle's actual answer (which is reproduced in the document) it becomes apparent that she has drawn two rectangles which are not only different in orientation but also in size. One is five squares by two squares and the other four squares by two! Thus, the flawed question has been accompanied by flawed marking, and the error compounded by including it in the authority's flawed advice to teachers.

What hope have we for the future when the success, or otherwise, of pupils and schools is measured in such a chaotic fashion?

Ben Holdsworth

St Mary's RC primary school Glenure Road Eltham, London SE9

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