Testing tyranny - the facts

11th May 2001 at 01:00
Although delighted by your headline "The most over-tested nation in the world" (TES, April 27) which graphically drew attention to the tyranny of testing in primary schools, I need to point out some slight (but important) inaccuracies in your report.

I did not find that most children sit more than 30 papers or tests by the time they leave primary school. They are subject to more than 30 national assessments (largely tests but also including nine teacher assessments), the most extensive system of national assessment at primary level.

My count of assessments deliberately did not include the use of othe standardised tests increasingly used by schools because of accountability pressures.

Currently only Year 1 is free of national assessments. The pressure exerted on teachers to "measure" pupils' progress because of performance-management arrangements will very likely lead to their introduction in Year 1 and thus add at least another two or three to the count of assessments. How long will it be before national assessments of information communications technology become mandatory, adding yet more tests to the testing burden ?

Professor Colin Richards

1 Bobbin Mill, Spark Bridge, Cumbria

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