Thursday, 17 July 2008

Key Stage 2 English Test marking

From today's Times comes a fine example of, I'm not sure what actually...

Two 11 year old pupils answered a (presumably creative writing) question. The first child wrote about Pip Davenport, a fairground inventor:
“If he wasent doing enthing els heel help his uncle Herry at the funfair during the day. And had stoody at nigh on other thing he did was invent new rides... Becoues he invented a lot of new rides he won a prize. He didn’t live with his mum he lived with his wife."
The second child wrote:
"Quickly, it became apparent that Pip was a fantastic rider: a complete natural. But it was his love of horses that led to a tragic accident. An accident that would change his life forever. At the age of 7, he was training for a local competition when his horse, Mandy, swerved sideways unexpectedly, throwing Pip on to the ground, paralysed."

Let's take a look at the two answers and as they used to say "compare and contrast" them. The first has appalling spelling, poor punctuation and has a last sentence that seems to have little relationship with the rest of the story. Assuming spelling is of importance then I don't see how it could be marked any higher than a 'D'. The second answer has no apparent spelling mistakes, rather decent usage of punctuation (although I would have put a semi-colon rather than a comma after unexpectedly) and tells a story well. I would have marked that as an 'B' for an 11 year old.

In fact
"both children were awarded five out of eight for sentence structure. Child A was given eight out of twelve for composition and effect while Child B received only seven marks."

Yes that's right, both children were awarded five out of eight for sentence structure which seems pretty unbelievable. Even more incredibly the first answer was awarded one mark more for composition and effect. Unless the first answer received extra marks for effect for making the examiner sit up and go "what the heck is that about" then I fail to see how the examiner made such a decision. Surely the examiner didn't make the decision based upon the perceived class of the writer: one writing about funfairs and one about horse-riding.

I know that I have moaned about the dumbing down of education for quite a while now but it is an important issue. Far from building a "knowledge based economy" the Labour party seem intent on destroying any excellence within our education system and levelling down so that nobody feels excluded. This "all shall have prizes" approach is counter-productive and I believe actually evil.

No comments: