I want this to be my only comment on today’s KS2 English GPS tests [questions and spellings] because I’ve banged on this door many times before but it is shut tight, locked, bolted and welded closed forever it would seem.
But I can’t promise.
The following question isn’t from today’s tests because I haven’t seen these, but it is from this year’s Notes for readers in the English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests and so is illustrative of the types of questions asked, and I have supplied other ‘real’ examples elsewhere on this blog:
I genuinely do not understand the point of such a question. I say this in the context of such a test being linked to the teaching and learning of Writing. This example presents/asks a number of things that seem quite meaningless:
It uses the term ‘simple present’ as if this is a known term, and/or an important term, but of course the question can be answered/completed without knowing the term.
Answering these three questions won’t really tell us much, will it? It will tell us if the student can answer the question correctly or incorrectly. So what? Even in the constriction of teaching/testing tense cohesion, it would be more ‘telling’ to ask a student to write three sentences in the past or present tense.
And what is the problem with my suggestion immediate above? Simple. It can’t be assessed as a right/wrong answer in the crass simplicity of a national test with a prescribed mark scheme. Such an approach to testing has to be uniform and simplistic and finite. Just like what writing isn’t.
What would be a more interesting and engaging way of using the frame of this question to explore a student’s ability to write, and to write with variation?
How about asking students to supply alternative words to those given? Would it matter if they were past or present tense? [To a degree that is a rhetorical question as I do think tense cohesion can be an important aspect of writing, and a common problem of maintaining in students’ writing, not that I would test it like this, not that the question we are looking at is testing this – if you are following].
But for my wider point, what about encouraging:
My mum’s clock shocked me at 6am.
My mum’s clock startled me at 6am.
My mum’s clock laughed loudly at me at 6am.
You know what I mean. I’ve gone this route before. But it is an important point and idea.
Could this be tested? Not on a national basis with prescriptive mark schemes which couldn’t countenance, let alone encourage such endless variation. Writing has to be finite. It has to be right or wrong. Just like the worst writing there is.
But teachers could assess this.