Over-testing still widely loathed

29th April 2005 at 01:00
Chris Noon, of Edexcel, contrives to miss the point (TES, Letters, April 15). By trying to make the standard assessment tests run on time, Edexcel is very far from providing a service for teachers, students and parents.

Tens of thousands of us oppose the present over-testing regime because it is damaging, demotivating and dulling, and because it depresses standards in schools by widening the gap between higher and lower attainers.

Students in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and even the island of Jersey are not subjected to compulsory SATs-style tests, and nor do private schools in England have to inflict such tests on their students. Only the English state system forces our children through testing.

In return for this privilege, it now makes us pay a private company. The National Assessment Agency was set upby the Government at a cost of pound;100 million. A substantial sliceof that money will go to Edexcel and hence to its owner, the multinational media and publishing conglomerate Pearson, whose managers and shareholders will require a profit.

Readers may already know that AQA and OCR, the alternative "unitary awarding bodies", or examination boards, are "exempt charities" operating on a not-for-profit basis.

The involvement of Edexcel in elements of the national testing process exemplifies yet againhow public funds are being quietly siphoned out of the public service into private hands,in this case to pay for theupkeep of an over-testing regime rejected by the rest of the UK, properly scorned by verymany in the teachingprofession and loathed bycohorts of students.

Patrick Yarker

Dols Hole Cottage Hall Road, Beetley Dereham Norfolk

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