Does stress-free assessment for students exist?
By Margaret Allen, Strategic Education Manager
Year after year, news stories hit the headlines about how testing, especially SATs, are negatively affecting young children and their mental health. The stress that SATs cause children has been criticised but, is there a way we can better prepare children for their paper-based tests that doesn’t make them feel like they are constantly being monitored and measured?
Think back to the first time, perhaps the only time, you sat your driving test. Even though you’d been learning for months, felt ready and prepared to drive alone; the moment you sit behind that wheel, and someone different is going to pass or fail you on your ability to drive, pressure hits. Palms start to sweat, knees start to shake… even though deep down you are able to drive, under these conditions everything seems different.
This is much like paper-based tests in school. All year, children are learning vital information to prepare them for their end of year tests, but when it comes down to it some thrive under pressure and others don’t. But is that a fair example of how well a student has performed over the last year? Or has the fear factor taken over and influenced the real ability of that child?
Could a form of regular assessments, that evaluate progress and support development be the answer? Determined to find a solution was River Beach Primary School, who discovered that Star Assessments could potentially dispense of the use of paper-based tests and encourage a stress-free assessment process for students.
As Joe Neale, English Subject Leader describes here, using a tool like Star Assessments, over set periods across the school year, has provided him with a detailed summary of how well his students were doing, where they needed additional assistance or intervention, and helped to accurately predict how well each student would do in their SATs tests – all without increasing teacher workload.
For Joe, and several other teaching staff across the UK, Star Assessments seems to be a valuable tool to inform and guide teachers on their class’ ability, without the formality of paper-based tests. Computer adaptive technology like this has transformed the way we think about assessments and can help us better prepare children for their SATs, by understanding where they are in their learning without putting them through a high-stake ‘pass or fail’ test environment. Instead, teachers can use the insight to inform progress and ultimately help pupils to reach their full potential.
Strategic Education Manager
Margaret Allen is Strategic Education Manager for Primary schools at Renaissance Learning. She uses practical experience from her time teaching in primary classrooms to help teachers across the UK to get the most out of Accelerated Reader.