Thanks to our guest blogger and Deputy Head teacher Michael Tidd for the following article.
Where do you keep yours? We all have them somewhere, often hidden out of view, but ready to be pulled out and used at any moment.
I’m talking, of course, of old test papers. They’re usually stacked in a cupboard somewhere, often in increasingly-tatty boxes with hastily-scrawled labels on them. In many cases, there are papers there that are older than the children in our classrooms. Chances are, there’ll be at least one for which the mark scheme has long since disappeared.
It’s time to let go. It’s hard, but necessary. Clear the shelf-space, fill the recycling bin, and enter the brave new world. They’re redundant, like it or not, and their time has passed. If it helps, keep a copy of each for posterity. After all, it seems harsh to discard Evelyn Glennie and Sharon Brown the lorry driver entirely.
Why am I urging the previously unthinkable? Because the new curriculum is here, the new tests are on the horizon, and assessment needs to change. We know that the tests are now useless as a predictor of success in the new tests: for a start, a level is meaningless in the new word of scaled scores. More importantly, the tests no longer assess the content we are required to teach.
There’ll be those who argue that sitting a test is still good practice. And I agree. But there are new tests that match the new curriculum that serve this need more effectively. Others will say that the questions are still a good assessment tool, and there I agree again. But sitting three maths test papers for the benefit of a handful of diagnostic points is overkill. Why make children sit through papers with questions on probability and modal averages that they’ll not need to reach the expected standard for at the end of the Key Stage? Continue reading →