6 comments on “Testing Times

  1. Excellent blog post, Bill (as always). I am cautiously optimistic that we in Scotland are moving in the right direction in terms of assessment (and one of its subsidiary purposes, qualifications) although constant vigilance will be required. I would disagree with Professor Boyle, however, when he refers to Gove ‘tinkering’; in my opinion, Gove is deliberately and systematically undermining the very basic principle of free state education, with the aim of privatising all aspects of it in England. Another powerful reason for maintaining the independence of the Scottish education system.

    • Thanks Gordon – much appreciated. Pring himself actually singles out for praise the principles of Curriculum for Excellence but tempers it somewhat by expressing a dislike for the ‘outcomes’. In terms of ‘teaching-to-the-test’ syndrome, I do agree that we are making progress, up to a point, the point being somewhere around the middle years of secondary school when in most schools the focus on examinations and grades becomes all-consuming. In that respect I don’t think we are (yet) very different from the rest of the UK, although I agree entirely with your comments about maintaining an independently Scottish approach.

  2. Fascinating, Bill. Almost three years ago I wrote a piece, stimulated by the same series of The Wire, on exactly the same issues: http://www.alexwood.org.uk/2012/04/lessons-in-hope-from-a-world-on-the-wire/
    What is also true is that judging schools by test results can lead to a variety of forms of cheating: excluding students who are unlikely to boost a school’s exam resultsand directing students to subjects with high pass rates and plain; moreover, what has also become apparent is a narrowing of the curricular content so that coaching for exam technique becomes the substitute for teaching.

    • Wow. Thanks Alex. You know, I can honestly say that your article was not even in my sub-conscious as I haven’t read the TES for at least four years now, so ‘great minds’ and all that! As you rightly suggest, the issues touched on in the blogpost are only the more obvious ones but the list is endless. I’m convinced we have the right curriculum on paper here in Scotland now but translating it into reality in the secondary sector remains a major challenge.
      Love the website incidentally – all the best and hope to bump into you again soon.
      Bill

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