No smell of teen spirit around tests;Letter

21st May 1999 at 01:00
YOUR gung-ho version of key stage 3 tests is wide of the mark. This is not the Blitz or Euro 96.

Our population of 14-year-olds do not feel solidarity through suffering, and certainly not in this case through enjoyment. Rather they wonder what the tests are for, and why they have to do them. The 11-plus at least was honest. National tests have no outcome, they simply offer an elaborate but crude diagnosis.

Some of your other correspondents seem to think that exams are useful because they prepare pupils for more exams. Hoops have the same function for dogs.

In any case, the key stage 3 English test bears little relation to GCSE, where Shakespeare is assessed through coursework. It is highly inappropriate to "test" Shakespeare via an exam and it is likely to damage the enthusiasm of potential students of literature.

In our obsession with assessment we have lost sight of education. Is it right to pressurise pupils to do well in tests that are more significant for school statistics than for the pupils themselves?

Graham Foster, Head of English, Midhurst grammar school, West Sussex

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