Student assessments

As with all learning, tracking progress is often essential to ensure that the person is learning everything they need to and progressing as they should. When children first start school their academic standard is tracked. As a child gets older this is often tracked using some sort of exam whether it be a practice exam or a written exam.

Many parents and some teachers worry about a child’s progress being tracked so early on and if this will be a concern for the child, but at the very early stages of learning, their progress is often tracked in such a way that they are not even aware that it is being done.

Tracking progress is not to see which students are bright and which are not but more to see if they are receiving a good level of teaching and also to highlight any areas that they may need additional help in.


Exam revision

Exams can be an extremely daunting time for students regardless of their ability and skill levels. Revision is proven to help improve your chances of passing exams and allows you time to revisit topics that may have been taught a number of months ago to refresh it all in your mind.

Some people plan their revision in weeks if not months ahead of time. They will work out all the subjects they need to revise for and split the revision period up in to blocks for each subject. This can take quite a bit of planning time but can often mean that you make sure you fit all the revision in. Other students prefer to pick and choice when they do their revision and what subjects they revise for. Often students will leave revision until the last minute. This is often not advised by schools or the education department but for some students it still can work well for them and is definitely better than doing none at all.


Are SATs too hard

With the year 6 children recently taking their SAT exams, it has again come in to question as to if they are too hard. Many teachers feel that there is a lot of pressure out on students to do well during these exams and that as the papers are getting harder the pressure increases.

It is not only the students that are under pressure when it comes to exams but also the teachers. Not only do they worry as to if they have covered each topic in enough detail as is needed for the exams but also as to  if they have taught it in such a way that all the pupils can understand it and most importantly, remember it.

Exams are a good way to measure progress of individual children and also to see how a school is achieving overall, but maybe it’s time to take a step back and remember what education should really be about.


Baseline assessment changes

From 2016 all schools that wish to show progress for accountability purposes will need to adopt an approved baseline assessment scheme. In order for the DeF (Department for Eductaion) to track the progress of pupils form an early age, the government introduced baseline assessments. This is where an assessment is carried out on each child at the earliest school age, so usually within a few weeks of them starting reception.  At the end of Key Stage 1 another assessment will be carried out to check their learning progress. A test (SATS) is done to help the teacher identify which level the student is currently at. The levels as they were are now being changed and no longer are set in to 2,3,4 etc the levels this year are more likely to be based on if they meet the standard expected for a child of that age, excel it or are below it. It is also much harder for a child to reach the expected level they need to be at this year than previous.

At the end of Key Stage 2 (year 6) the children will undergo another test and this will then be sent away to be marked. This again will form part of their overall assessment for the level they are at academically.


Stop testing and more learning

Many parents and teachers are pushing for the government to look in to the number of exams and tests that young people have to endure. The exams are not only getting more frequent but also more intense and pass rates are often dropping due to the percentage of questions that must be answer correctly to pass increasing.

Exams can cause a lot of students stress and some simply do not cope well with exam situations although they may work well in class. Many subjects are now made up of part practice and part written or part course work to allow the students who struggle with exams to do well.

Teachers often have to spend too much time teaching children how to pass exams rather than teaching them the skills and experience they need in the working world. With children being tested as young as 5 is there call for a change in the education system?