National school tests reinforce sense of failure

February 6, 1998

Competitive school testing and national targets reinforce the sense of failure in low-achieving pupils, according to King's College London research published today. Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam at King's school of education conclude that it would be far better to help pupils raise their own standards and achieve individual targets. They believe this could raise standards nationally by the equivalent of between one-and-a-half and two GCSE grades in each subject.

Their paper, Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment, says that formative assessment holds the key to genuine learning for pupils of all ability ranges. It focuses teachers' skills and attention on what each pupil needs to do to improve. The paper argues against overloading teachers with national testing and inspection deadlines. Best teaching practice could be disseminated through inservice programmes. See research paper.

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