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Test results for third of primary students wrong, says study

November 2nd, 2007 by Graham Attwell

There is nothing surprising in the report in the Guardian on a study by Cambridge University on standards in primary school. Perhaps most shocking is that it has taken so long fro someone to say this. And that in the face of all the evidence the UK government still refuses to acknowledge that the test and target regime introduced in English schools is a failure: a failure in raising standards, a failure in imposing unreasonable stress on students, a failure in terms of constraining pedagogic approaches and a failure to trust in imagination and learning.

“As many as one in three primary school children is given the wrong marks in national tests, according to a report on standards in primary schools.

Sats for seven- and 11-year-olds, which are used to assess their progress and feed into national school league tables, are unreliable, put pupils under psychological pressure and have had little impact, the report says.

The researchers accuse the government of ignoring academic evidence, backed by the then Statistics Commission, that the dramatic rises in results in the run-up to 2000 were “exaggerated”.

The report commissioned for Cambridge University’s review of primary education comes after the prime minister pledged to put testing at the heart of the next phase of the government’s plan to eradicate failure. Ministers believe that without nationally comparable tests teachers are not able to target pupils who are falling behind.

The reports document research showing that up to one in three pupils is given the wrong mark at the end of the tests. Short papers with questions that have a narrow range of possible answers mean that pupils’ skills are not rigorously tested, leaving a wide margin of error.”

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