Measuring academic progress and inspiring creativity without the stress
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An education expert from ACS International Schools, which has campuses in Cobham, Egham and Hillingdon, answers your questions
I don’t want my kid to be a fact robot, but how do we escape the exam treadmill?
The NSPCC reported in May 2018, in the midst of the exam season, that the number of referrals by schools in England seeking mental health treatment for pupils had risen by more than a third.
This is worrying and undoubtedly, standardised national tests, such as SATs, which require students to revise a specific subject for a formal exam, can be a source of stress. We also know that ‘teaching to the test’ discourages children from developing inquisitiveness and their ability to explore a subject independently. However, there are ways to measure academic progress and inspire creativity without the stress for students, parents and teachers.
ACS use a range of assessments to build a picture of children’s strengths and areas for growth. One of the standardised assessments used is called Measure of Academic Progress (MAP). MAP involves ‘smart tests’ which are taken on a computer and, as students work through the test, the programme adjusts the questions based on the individual’s ability. Students can’t revise for these tests as each one is unique.
When considered with many other forms of assessment, MAP testing helps to give a clear picture of each student’s progress and allows teachers to give every child the individual attention they need to thrive; they are able identify where extra support is needed and differentiate tasks for those who particularly excel.
ACS provide a challenging and rigorous study program, but it’s a personalised and inquiry-based approach which suits different types of learners. The emphasis is on developing students’ creative, imaginative and critical thinking skills as opposed to high-stakes assessment.
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It’s a good idea to ask your child’s school how academic progress will be monitored and see if you are happy with the balance proposed. There are certainly other options out there apart from SATs.