[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 4 February, 2005, 01:50 GMT
Maths tests 'putting off pupils'
Exam room
Pupils sit four national maths tests by the time they are 16
Too much "high stakes" testing from the age of seven is damaging pupils' enthusiasm for maths, a report claims.

The Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (Acme) says children in England should "not always be studying towards the next test".

Otherwise, "important mathematical skills may be inadequately taught, or not taught at all".

But a government spokeswoman said testing helped every child "reach his or her potential".

The report by Acme - a group made up of academics and maths teachers - found even A-level maths students were put off the subject by first-year AS-level exams.

Poor results

The "poor results and high failure rates" stopped many continuing into the second year of the course, it adds.

The number of entries for final A-level maths exams in England in 2001 - the last group not to sit AS-levels - was 47,959.

By 2002, it had fallen to 38,512.

The number who had sat the AS-level in 2001 was 46,610. This represents a drop-out rate of 17.4%.

Pupils' maths skills are tested at ages seven, 11, 14 and 16, before they decide whether to go on to do an A-level in the subject.

Acme's report calls for a cut in the "overall volume and frequency" of tests.

School league tables are worsening the situation, it adds.

Acme's chairman, Sir Peter Williams, said: "Pupils must be given time to develop an excitement for and interest in learning maths and should not always be studying towards the next test.

"By the time that pupils in England are 16 years old they have already done four national tests in maths.

"There is a danger that this can lead to an 'exam mentality' - for both pupils and teachers - where learning is just about passing tests."

A Department for Education and Skills spokeswoman said tests gave "objective evidence, against a national standard" of children's learning.

She added: "Teacher assessment draws on evidence from classroom work, observation and discussion throughout the year.

"The evidence from both types of assessment provides valuable information to support the future learning of each pupil and helps to ensure that every child is able to reach his or her potential."

  • Acme's report is titled Assessment in 14-19 Mathematics.

    Maths exams 'fail at all levels'
    20 Feb 04 |  Education
    Action plan to rescue maths
    24 Feb 04 |  Education
    Darts players 'amazing at maths'
    04 Jan 05 |  Education
    Tories' bursary plan for maths
    12 Nov 04 |  Education

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


    News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
    UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
    Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
    Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific