Testing fudge still fails the taste test

19th December 2003 at 00:00
Our present system of 5-14 testing has always been a fudge to satisfy the powerful lobby of primary teachers in the Educational Institute of Scotland. Conservative ministers in 1992 realised they could not implement a national testing system without the consent of teachers but their solution has been loved by no one.

It is still seen by the union as summative assessment that is linked to a narrowing of the curriculum. Teachers see it as a means to batter the profession and something that does little to improve a child's learning.

But local authorities have been equally dismissive. Results tell them little and they struggle to hold schools to account for them. That is why they have independently introduced various forms of standardised testing which they repeatedly insist show wide discrepancies in English and maths between teachers' class results and more objective testing. They want a more robust system.

Parents have also complained that the reporting of levels children have reached is pretty meaningless. They want harder information.

Despite all the revisions, Ministers can still not persuade primary teachers to buy their latest compromise and authorities are not entirely convinced. This could yet be the wedge in the cosy relationship between the Scottish Executive and its post-McCrone partners.

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