Exams – Do we put too much pressure on kids?

OK today’s article stems from this new test being introduced into Year 6 SATs this year. For those who haven’t read the story, it is available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-22484415

So this lead me to think about whether we put too much pressure on kids for the sake of a school’s reputation.

As someone who has recently graduated from school and am currently in uni, I can understand the amount of pressure that some kids go through. I remember taking a series of tests when I was in Year 6, including 3 Maths Papers, and an English paper and a Science paper. Within that English paper we were assessed on our spelling, punctuation and grammar. I don’t really understand why we would add another two tests to the English paper would achieve. I appreciate that the standard of grammar has gone a bit downhill lately, but that doesn’t mean we should throw another test at the kids to try and improve it.

I understand that it is important to track kids progress, I’m a student teacher after all. So you would imagine that I might be all for this testing as it’s a great way to track their progress, which in turn will help the school’s reputation and statistics. But actually I don’t like it. One of the big issues I have with it is that it has questions such as ‘circle the adverbs in this sentence’ and a prewritten sentence is given. This tests the child’s ability to recognise what an adverb is, but does it test how to use one? No. Testing a child’s written ability should be done in a writing test, much like the old system did when I did my SATs in 2003.

Another point the article mentions is that teenagers taking GCSEs in England will be given extra marks in some key subjects for correct spelling, punctuation and grammar for the first time. So basically we’re testing English in every subject. Now I am dyslexic and have issues with spelling sometimes, which is why I’m glad that I can type on a computer and then check my spellings then. I would feel pressured and end up crossing out a lot of words because I know I’m being tested on my spelling. I hated my GCSE Biology exams because I couldn’t remember the technical terms (I still got a good grade though I might add πŸ™‚ ), so I would have been even more frustrated if I had to be more careful. This will put undue pressure on the kids and not actually test what they know about the subject.

What’s your take on all this? feel free to comment πŸ™‚

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