Teacher hits out at ‘vague’ tests for five-year-olds

● Email claims tests are to back idea of at­tain­ment gap clos­ing

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By TOM PETERKIN Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

Stan­dard­ised test­ing for fiveyear-olds have been set up to be “de­lib­er­ately vague” to sup­port the no­tion that Scot­land’s at­tain­ment gap is clos­ing, a pri­mary teacher has claimed.

The claim was made in an email sent by the teacher to the Labour Party which out­lines a se­ries of crit­i­cisms of the con­tro­ver­sial sys­tem of tests that pri­mary one pupils have to carry out.

Un­der the sys­tem, five-yearolds have to sit lit­er­acy and numer­acy tests last­ing around 50 min­utes. Crit­ics have com­plained that test­ing chil­dren at such a young age cre­ates un­due anx­i­ety and pres­sure.

The Ed­in­burgh-based teacher, who wishes to re­main anony­mous, voiced con­cerns about the sys­tem, say­ing in school it had taken 30 hours of teacher time for numer­acy and 40 hours for lit­er­acy to set the tests for 54 pupils.

Ac­cord­ing to the teacher, the test ques­tions tended to be “very poorly phrased – often at best they are am­bigu­ous and at worst they are so badly writ­ten that they are ac­tu­ally mis­lead­ing”.

The teacher was also con­cerned by the out­come of the tests, which have been in­tro­duced by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment for P1, P4, P7 and S3 pupils amid con­cern about fall­ing stan­dards and the lack of con­sis­tent data across the

0 Five-year-olds have to sit lit­er­acy and numer­acy tests last­ing 50 min­utes coun­try. Ac­cord­ing to the teacher, pri­mary one pupils are cat­e­gorised as either high, medium or low.

“Hav­ing watched the chil­dren com­plete the tests I also have no con­fi­dence in the va­lid­ity of the as­sess­ment of any of those three cat­e­gories,” the teacher said.

“Out of our 54 chil­dren, not one child came out as low on the numer­acy test, even though some of them only gave a hand­ful of cor­rect an­swers. This as­sess­ment does not in any way sup­port or marry up with the de­tailed un­der­stand­ing that we have de­vel­oped over the past year of the strengths, chal­lenges and sup­port needs of our chil­dren.”

The teacher went on to sug­gest the tests had been cre­ated to sup­port the no­tion that the at­tain­ment gap be­tween rich and poor pupils was clos­ing.

“The only con­clu­sion I can reach hav­ing watched this process from be­gin­ning to end is that these tests have been set up to give a de­lib­er­ately vague pic­ture which broadly sup­ports the idea that the at­tain­ment gap is clos­ing,” they said.

Scot­tish Labour leader Richardleonardraised­some­ofthe points made in the teacher’s email at First Min­is­ter Ques­tions, when he chal­lenged Ni­cola Stur­geon to scrap the tests for five-year-olds.

Ms Stur­geon de­fended the regime. She said: “The vast ma­jor­ity of teacher feed­back as I un­der­stand it has been pos­i­tive about the depth of the di­ag­nos­tic in­for­ma­tion avail­able.”

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