Trial by value added

5th February 1999 at 00:00
Trust the teachers, not the tests

THE USE of pupil tests to judge schools and teachers could undermine baseline assessment. This is a more controversial issue in primary schools than in secondaries because the performance of one teacher with each class could be identified more easily.

Eric Wilkinson of Glasgow University warned: "The jury is still out on whether a single baseline assessment scheme can combine the two purposes of the pedagogical, helping children get the most out of their learning, and the managerial, providing information to fulfil the requirements of value-added."

Geoff Lindsay, head of the psychology and special needs research unit at Warwick University, also cautioned against baseline assessment being "taken over" as a means of holding schools accountable rather than helping teachers "think through their teaching".

Professor Wilkinson said any scheme "should give priority to and display sensitivity to the need to promote children's learning". Assessment should take place across the curriculum rather than focusing narrowly on literacy and numeracy.

Teachers must also be adequately prepared and supported.

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