Testing is the only way to drive up standards

Testing is the only way to drive up standards

I am deeply disappointed that the government looks to have caved into parent and teacher pressure, with SATs for seven-year-olds set to be scrapped.

This is the latest example of successive governments losing their nerve on testing.

First SATs for 14 year-olds were shelved, and now the government is planning to scrap those for seven-year-olds, leaving us with just Key Stage 2 SATs for 11 year-olds and GCSEs at 16.

This will mean that there will be no national measure for two very long periods in a child’s education – seven years from four to 11 and then another five years until GCSEs.  Those gaps are in my opinion far too long.

Testing is the most effective way to drive up standards, and as our position in the international league tables shows, we desperately need to improve educational attainment in this country.

We must have assessments or tests to check where children are at certain points in their educational journey.

These should be formalised and organised on proper educational grounds with levels and grades, otherwise, the information is useless. National standards have to apply and this information is essential.

Testing children when they first start school is largely ineffective because they have only limited literary and numeracy skills. It is only possible to test something once you’ve been taught something.

A lot of the fears that are spread around testing are more to do with perception than truth.

The myth that we test too much has been perpetuated by those who do not seem to have much regard for ensuring that children have grasped basic skills.

The progressive wing of education has always been less rigorous, and their understanding of what children need to learn appears to be more blurred and less focused.

In reality, teachers are testing children every day- a certain thing is taught and then the teacher needs to know that the child has grasped it.

So we question them, by setting exercises and practice tests to check the child has understood the information.

It is perfectly natural to formalise this at certain points so we can check the data against performance elsewhere.

I also suspect some teachers fear national testing in case it exposes poor teaching -if that’s what’s needed, so be it. If we do our jobs properly as teachers there should be no problem with this.

In my view; literacy and numeracy should be rigorously tested at 7, 11 and 14.

We all want independent, free-thinking children that can problem-solve, but this will only be achieved when children have a good grounding in numeracy and literacy skills to begin with.

Not every child will be academic but children need to have those basics in place to succeed in almost every area of life.

Unfortunately, the statistics show that there are too many children not achieving the minimum benchmark- and my fear is that with less testing, even more will slip through the net.