My blog post for today concerns an article on BBC News about the new grammar, spelling and punctuation tests planned for 11 year olds. The test is part of the SATS tests and will cover maths (including mental maths) and english.
Apparently the tests are designed to “re-teach” what children may not already know, such as use of punctuation, correct grammar and “sentence enhancers” such as adverbs and adjectives. The specimen questions reveal children will have to circle correct answers or add words to the beginning and ends of sentences to gain marks.
An extended writing assessment is no longer included.
According to a report many youngsters are now failing to meet the minimum requirements of literacy and maths and these tests will help in reminding children how to write well and creatively.
I’m all for stretching children’s imaginations and helping them achieve full potential but circling a word on a piece of paper? I don’t think this is the most engaging and inspiring method that could be used. I couldn’t agree more with the General Secretary of the National Association Head Teachers who said: “Just because you can circle an adverb on a multiple choice test doesn’t mean you can use one properly. This test distracts us from teaching a generation to write clearly and elegantly.”
In my opinion a written assessment is vital in landmark tests such as this; it not only illustrates a child’s spelling, puncutation and grammatical capabilities but also portrays fluency and creativity, something which I feel cannot be proved through the circling of a word. The danger with multiple choice also remains that a lot of the answers could be gained through sheer luck of the draw, especially when there are only a few answers to choose from.
Here is the article if you would like to read it.