Primary school tests ‘should be standardised’

TEACHERS are calling for the introduction of standardised testing into primary schools so that areas of academic difficulty can be highlighted from a young age.

The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) welcomed confirmation from Minister for Education and Science Mary Hanafin that she has no interest in developing an assessment scheme aimed at generating school league tables.

According to the INTO, external tests, bought from educational companies, are being used on an ad-hoc basis in Irish schools and this practice must be regularised.

“What we need is the agreed usage of standardised tests in relevant curricular areas at agreed, regular times to be decided within the context of the school plan,” INTO general secretary John Carr said.

The INTO said that they are open to discussions on the matter with the Department of Education, but said they want a guarantee from the department that “appropriate intervention will automatically follow an assessment that identifies a particular need”.

They say that results and data from the tests should be made available to the schools inspectorate during a school evaluation and overall standards could be compared, year on year, through sample surveys which didn’t reveal school names.

They also called for a regular evaluation of the system and financial support to schools to cover the costs of purchasing tests, marking them and compiling the information.

“Teachers cannot ignore international research evidence which shows that some classroom assessment is beset by shortcomings. Some testing reinforces underachievement and dampens expectations irreparably,” said Mr Carr.

“The tests that we are proposing must derive from the curriculum in our schools but must not dominate or derail the curriculum. Such testing should guide curriculum reform and investment, develop high quality teaching and learning, and inform parents. It must be of benefit and not a burden to our pupils and their teachers.”

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