Quality can be tested? Wrong answer

20th December 2013 at 00:00

George Bethell dislikes Colin Richards' scepticism regarding testing but ignores long-justified doubts of testing as performance measurement. Even if tests reliably measure what they purport to measure, they test only what can be tested.

Mr Bethell asks for an alternative definition of quality. As a former inspector for Ofsted and, later, a quality consultant in Sweden, I offer the following factors, which virtually guarantee high-quality teaching.

- Subject competence.

- Work planned to relevant curriculum requirements, not tests.

- Challenge.

- Good relationships and levels of interaction.

- Relevant use of time, space and people, as well as resources.

- Effective and relevant engagement of students' own experience, knowledge and ideas.

- Evidence of the teacher's ongoing evaluation to inform future planning.

Could Mr Bethell devise a test for these factors? And yet they are the essence of effective learning and teaching. That is exactly what so many of us are critical of in a system where major and often misleading claims are made based entirely on narrow testing. Parents should expect better, but who tells them so?

Mervyn Benford, Shutford, Oxfordshire.

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