Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Education Distorted to Hit Targets - MPs; Measuring of Standards Is 'Impossible'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Education Distorted to Hit Targets - MPs; Measuring of Standards Is 'Impossible'

Article excerpt

Byline: Tim Ross

MINISTERS faced calls to abolish the system of national school tests yesterday with warnings that children's education has been distorted to meet Government targets.

The Commons schools select committee condemned the widespread practice of teachers drilling pupils to pass tests and called for SATs to be radically cut back.

The MPs also demanded an inquiry into grade inflation amid fears that rising test and exam results may exaggerate the true standards of education that children reach.

And the committee warned that the Government's planned reforms, which will see pupils tested more often instead of at fixed ages, risk causing even more damage to education.

The damning report came as 1.2 million 11 and 14-year-olds across England take their SATs in maths, English and science.

Teachers and opposition politicians called on Schools Secretary Ed Balls to listen to the "groundswell of disapproval" of the school testing system.

The MPs' report said: "The system is now out of balance.

"The drive to meet Government-set targets has too often become the goal rather than the means to the end of providing the best possible education for all children.

"A variety of classroom practices aimed at improving test results has distorted the education of some children.

"We received substantial evidence that teaching to the test, to an extent which narrows the curriculum and puts sustained learning at risk, is widespread," the MPs said.

The MPs warned that the current system had become so distorted that it was virtually impossible to measure national standards from school tests. "Teaching to the test means that pupils may not retain, or may not even possess in the first place, the skills which are supposedly evidenced by their test results," they said.

Mr Balls has proposed changes to the testing system, with a pilot project under way in more than 400 schools. …

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