Belfast Telegraph

Teachers: end assessments now

Burdensome numeracy and literacy procedures 'not fit for purpose'

BY ANNA MAGUIRE

A leading teachers' group has called for key stage assessments to be scrapped after a survey of its members slated the controversial procedure as "not fit for purpose".

Education Minister John O'Dowd will announce changes to the assessments in the coming weeks, following talks with teaching unions. The General Teaching Council (GTC) is calling for key stage assessments to be axed and replaced with an annual statutory test, which would be used in 'blind' tests in 10% of schools here.

It is understood that changes being drawn up by the Department of Education will focus on the management of the assessments.

Key stage 3 assessments – or communication and using mathematics – are based on teacher assessment of pupils' classroom work in numeracy and literacy skills in Year 10 (pupils aged 14).

A survey by the GTC, published today, reveals:

* Between 82% and 89% believe the results of key stage assessments are of limited or no use. l Just one of 500 schools said it believed the process of key stage assessment is manageable.

* 91% considered the process "burdensome or very burdensome".

* 88% said the assessments are of limited or no reliability.

Education Minister Mr O'Dowd pledged to make changes to the controversial assessments. "I have decided to move to new arrangements that I believe will reduce the pressure on teachers and schools, whilst maintaining the primary purpose of the levels of progression – to assist teaching and learning," he said.

GTC registrar Carmel Gallagher said there was a fear that schools may be under pressure to "massage" or "manipulate" the results of key stage assessments.

FACTFILE

Key stage assessments are based on teacher assessment of pupils' numeracy and literacy skills. In August, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that one in four post-primary schools did not return assessment results or returned incomplete results because of industrial action over the assessments.

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