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Monday, 17 February, 2003, 15:12 GMT
Tests 'misused' by politicians, say heads
School tests
Heads warn against "misrepresented" test results
Test results are being misused by governments around the world, warn head teachers attending an international meeting of school leaders.

Head teachers meeting in Ottawa in Canada, under the auspices of the International Confederation of Principals, said that political pressures on test results could distort education systems.

Many tests appear to be more about responding to public pressure than about providing timely, relevant and meaningful information

Nola Hambelton, International Confederation of Principals

And this over-emphasis on tests and league tables could become an obstacle to the efforts of pupils and their teachers.

"Principals are not opposed to testing, but they are increasingly concerned about how the tests and the results are being misused and misinterpreted," said Nola Hambelton, a school principal from New Zealand and president of the International Confederation of Principals.

"Based on the experiences from several different countries, many of the tests our members have had to administer appear to be more about responding to public pressure and lobby groups than about providing timely, relevant and meaningful information to parents, students and teachers."

'Pointless'

League tables were also criticised by head teachers.

"Ranking schools is a pointless but popular exercise, especially with the media, that does very little to help parents understand the various and several reasons that influence student achievement," said Hugh Fraser, a school principal from Winnipeg.

"Whole school boards are now 'teaching to the test' and having their teachers coach students in taking the test, rather than teaching them the regular curriculum," said Mr Fraser.

A head teachers' union from the United Kingdom, the National Association of Head Teachers, was among the organisations represented.

And Sue Sayles, head of Riccall Community School in York, said that "national testing is an issue facing school leaders around the world".

"Coming from a country where the curriculum is driven by testing, it is important that we share with colleagues the dangers of governments going down this route.

"Teaching to the test and narrowing of the curriculum are not beneficial to students".

See also:

23 Jan 03 | Education
29 Nov 02 | Education
24 Sep 02 | Education
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