Headlines: December 8th, 2008

Six out of ten teachers do not believe that examinations are the best way to assess pupils according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors. The study also found that more than three quarters of people felt their performance in exams did not reflect their true abilities.

The majority of teachers said examinations were not the best indicator of pupils’ ability and believed they did not reflect future success in the workplace. The study also found that less than a third of respondents felt ‘a sense of pride and achievement’ from doing exams.

The deputy head of the CIEA, Graham Herbert, said the results offered further evidence that good assessment was about more than examinations. “For some, exams are an excellent opportunity to prove themselves academically, but we only have to look at the likes of Winston Churchill and Richard Branson, both poor exam performers, to see that testing is not the only measure of true ability,” he said.

Mr. Herebert cited a Cambirdge University report which showed that pupils in England sat an average of 70 formal exams during their school lives and that primary age children were subjected to more tests than in any other country. He said the recent scrapping of Key Stage 3 tests, which pupils took at 14, provided a good opportunity for teachers to focus more on classroom assessment.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families defended the number of exams pupils had to sit and said externally set and marked national tests helped teachers to see how well their students were progressing and allowed parents to see how one school was performing in comparison to others.