Tests for 5 & 11 year olds – a silly idea

Nick Clegg has proposed testing 5 and 11 year olds to measure the success of schools in reaching arbitrary standards.

There is a considerable problem with this announcement.

Children are not born with adult capabilities, these develop throughout childhood, and, in the early years especially, there are massive changes in ability.

Any given class of school children will vary in age by just under 12 months.

At the age of 5, somebody on the cusp of their 6th birthday will be ~20% more developed on average than somebody just turned 5.

At the age of 11, somebody on the cusp of their 12th birthday will be 8.3% more developed on average than somebody just turned 11.

You expect, on average, younger children to perform less well in tests than older children in the same cohort.

Even if results are averaged across a class, variations in the distribution of ages in a given class will affect this result. 

This advantage narrows as children get older, making tests at later ages progressively fairer in terms of measuring ability, but it seems a profoundly silly thing to do for Primary School age children.

 

 

 

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One thought on “Tests for 5 & 11 year olds – a silly idea

  1. Rachel Pearce (@rachelpearce)

    Exactly! It is made worse by the fact that e.g. in the summer term the youngest pupils have sometimes had only 2 terms of schooling while the older ones have had 3. And now they won’t even have had full-time schooling until they reach 5 if Gove has his way!

    Reply

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