It's the tests not the teaching

29th September 2000 at 01:00
THE fact that children in Year 6 prove more able to achieve levels 4 and 5 in reading than in writing has been known for several years, so the recently-published test results should come as no surprise.

The Government appears to feel that inadequate teaching re-mains the root of the problem. Perhaps, however, the explanation for limited measurable improvement lies elsewhere.

Writing demands far more complex skills, to be applied simultaneously, compared with reading. The demands of levels 2 and 4 in reading set appropriate challenges for most seven and 11-year-olds, but the same levels in writing re simply much harder.

New teaching methods have certainly produced improved writing in the classroom. But the tests are based on single time-limited pieces of writing which allow children little opportunity for reflection and improvement, thus preventing them from fully demonstrating their skills.

The published results for key stage 2 no longer include teachers' assessments.

By failing to value these additional measures, the true extent of improvement in writing is not being recognised.

Hilary Vaughan


Holbrook primary school


West Sussex

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