Quite Clearly Arses

I Should Be Marking – never have I meant that so literally, but I felt the need to catch with a few thoughts rattling around.

So, to address the title of the post – I can’t figure out what else QCA might stand for.

The reason for this outburst is that it now appears that the Year 9 ICT tests, organised jointly by the QCA and RM, may now become optional or possibly even be scrapped according the BBC. Some are hailing it as a wonderful decision, and a small number of people I’ve spoken to are not so sure that it’s a good thing.

The main thing that seems to have gotten everyone’s back up is that we’ve spent the last 3 years piolting this thing and using countless man (and woman) hours in installing the (buggy) software, filling in forms to describe the state of our current ICT facilities (sometimes in triplicate), dropping shemes of work, designing new schemes of work, preparing students, boring students, drilling students and generally wasting everyone’s time.

My HoD’s first thoughts were that we would have to go back to a teacher assessment which means more workload and a ‘sit down, do the test, accept the result’ system was arguably fairer, quicker and more consistent. My personal opinion is that we will gain more flexibility in what and how we teach, we don’t have to spend more time focussing on Office applications (I acknowledge their importance but too often it seems that the whole of secondary ICT is geared towards churning out the next generation of receptionists).

Another problem with the tests is that they cannot possibly hope to assess all of the levelling criteria. The test is geared towards assessing skills, not pupils’ understanding of how ICT impacts on society or how to evaluate their own work. I’m not against online assessment, I just think that it has to be seen for what it is – another assessment tool that should help teachers as they form their professional opinions of how well the pupils are able to work and understand the particular subject.

My biggest caveat of all is that one news report does not necessarily signify the end. It might be that this suggestion is ignored and the tests plow on regardless. I know of a number of teachers who have immediately gone running to SMT with the good news. They’re back planning their SoW, abandoning the software and moving on. I hope they’re not setting themselves up for a fall. I suspect we’ll carry on for this year and see how it goes. Maybe we’ll carry on with the optional test, but only use it as a part of the curriculum and as part of the assessment.

Anyway, I have another 60 collections of coursework to get through this weekend, and I still haven’t managed to get my KS3 levelling done (hmmm, maybe a summative test isn’t such a bad thing :p).


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