Teachers need more help with assessment

15th January 2010 at 00:00

It was good to read David Cameron's robust defence of the Curriculum for Excellence assessment plans (December 18). He suggests they are about assessment to support learning and represent the same model as that advocated through 5-14 - therefore, he argues, no "sea change" in assessment.

Sadly, the sea change intended by 5-14 in 1991 was effectively derailed by the introduction of testing, which began to drive both pupil assessment and school accountability in primary and secondary schools throughout the 1990s.

I well remember one occasion a couple of years ago when I quoted the 5-14 assessment document to a group of well-informed teachers, and not one could even guess the source. Assessment is for Learning may well have led some from the darkest days of testing, but clearly there's much further still to go.

I'm struck by a continuing failure to understand how hard it can be to change, especially when standardised testing still enjoys favour as an attractive, easier alternative for assessing pupils' learning.

Schools need specific guidance and practical support, not the well-meaning exhortations and broad generalities they have to make do with.

Eric Young, iTelligent Classrooms Limited, Mayfield, Biggar.

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