We never taught reading 'badly'

20th April 2001 at 01:00
YOUR article on reading tests ("National reading tests have become 'easier'", TES, April 6) quoted the Government's claims that "reading was taught badly in too many schools before the literacy hour and its teaching has greatly improved" and that "the national literacy strategy has sent primary standards soaring since 1998".

This is an incredible insult to the efforts of nearly half a million teachers up and down the country, as well as being a long way from the truth. But tell a lie or half-truth long enough and it will be believed.

The Government's claims are now beginning to look like simplistic twaddle in the face of the confusion and worry over testing that has been expressed during the past year.

We've read reports of cramming for national tests, headteachers' worries about softer marking ad widespread frustration over inaccurate marking. Now you report worries that the changes in the difficulty of the English tests themselves over the past three years account for the apparent rise in standards.

This measurement craze trivialises what we do, and sets children up to be knocked down.

What does it take to convince teachers that the only people qualified to decide what is taught and how it is evaluated are teachers?

Polite disquiet will not change a damn thing. We should be getting our act together and, with one voice, demand that we take responsibility and power for what we do best - teach.

That means what and how we teach and how we evaluate it. In the meantime, children are being prepared for exams but not for life.

Michael Todd 27 Main Street Askham Bryan York

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