The Testing Industry
BBC NEWS | Education | Parents fail comprehension test
If conspiracy theorists ever got into education, one of the first places that they might point their suspicious fingers is the tangled undergrowth of tests, qualifications and assessment.
They might well ask whether the whole baffling system had been created to be incomprehensible to parents.
Anyone with a child in the last year of primary school will already be keenly aware of the Sats tests to be taken in May.
But this week even more fog was pumped into the subject with the debate over a new type of primary school test, a kind of son of Sats, known as the “single-level test”.
The results of a pilot test involving 22,000 children were initially delayed, while officials examined the bewildering finding that younger children had got higher marks than older children.
Although "marks" is not the right word, because in these Alice in Wonderland-ish tests, pupils only take them when they are good enough to pass.
There is no mark, because no one who is deemed likely to fail takes them in the first place.
Pupils have not failed, they have suffered from an "inappropriate entry".
In terms of unnecessary complications, the primary school tests are just the nursery slopes. Secondary and higher education qualifications enter into another realm of the incomprehensible.
The national qualifications framework has nine levels of difficulty. Download the list at level one and there are more than 1,200 different options, including various Key Skills, NVQs and BTEC courses.
Each of these abundant level one options are equivalent to GCSE grades D to G. Hold on, did not D to G use to be an… inappropriate entry?
There will be even more scope for confusion when Diplomas are added to the mix. Will A-levels versus Diplomas become education's first format war? And what about the children who end up with the Betamax version for the rest of their lives?
Qualifications and testing are an industry – and any business has its own jargon. But spare a thought for the pupils, schools and parents who have to make sense of it all.
That's the whole point, the tests aren't for the kids or to provide useful information on how the kids are doing, they are are just tests for the testing industry!