Twisted values of art examiners

10th August 2001 at 01:00
As a former officer for art and design at (exam board) Edexcel, I have to say that the deluge of letters about art assessment ("Don't let the tick-boxers destroy art", TES, July 13) is entirely predictable.

I would not wish to absolve Edexcel of responsibility for the present debacle, but have to say that the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and government departments are equally culpable.

Those of us who spoke of the unique and different nature of art and design in the early stages of syllabus development, were either undermined by the anxiety of exam boards about market share; or unable to modify bureaucratic language intent on quantifying everything, while understanding the value of nothing.

The "tick-box" mentality is indicative of a philosophy that joins a zeal for critical and cultural studies with a competency-based style of assessment.

Expressive, creative and aesthetic values highlighted by professionals in the field cannot be given a numerical value, at least not easily; hence they are at worst ignored or subjected to meaningless assessment schemes.

Once again we witness the drive towards accountablity undermining and sidelining good practice that has been built over the last 30 years in schools.

These assessment schemes are not about quantifying the progress or achievement of students, but about measuring the performance of staff.

Essentially numbers make better league tables, which provide "evidence" of improvement, which makes re-elected governments. Call it sour grapes if you like, but I can't help thinking that I told you so!

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