Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Teaching To The Test Update


Further Excellent News!
On the authority of Comrade Commissar Balls, Senior Assistant Commissar More-Andrew-than-Adonis of the Department for Children, Schools and Families (National) today announces Order of the Day 2692:
"Today's primary school children have achieved the best set of Key Stage 2 results we have ever seen, and I congratulate all pupils and teachers for their hard work and achievements.
Over the last ten years there has been substantial and sustained improvement at Key Stage 2. Compared to 1997, 100,000 more 11 year olds are achieving the target level for their age in English and 90,000 in Maths.
But there is still more to do."

Er, yes... there certainly is, My Lord.

True, the percentage of 11 year olds hitting KS2 target level 4 has crept up again since last year. But one in five kids are still failing to reach what is a pretty basic level of achievement- which means they are leaving primary school functionally illiterate and/or innumerate.

Moreover, as we blogged here, even those who pass the test may well not have the skills. It's now well established that, with such high stakes, schools routinely teach to the test rather than teaching for understanding. And they routinely adopt "triage" techniques to concentrate resources on marginal pupils, rather than those at the bottom who have the really serious problems.

The Commissars were tickled pink with their little selves when all their tests and national strategies seemed to crank up 3Rs performance virtually overnight- see table below. But as everybody now understands, that mainly reflected schools learning how to teach to the test. The problems of the hardcore 20% at the very bottom haven't been addressed at all.


Update: the proportion of kids achieving level 4 in all three Rs - reading, riting, and rithmetic - is only 60% (Grauniad)

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