This Guardian article is one I posted on my personal Facebook page this week. Examples of the daftness include....One of the questions that caused most outcry in the spelling, punctuation and grammar (Spag) tests asked pupils to insert a pair of commas in the correct place in the following sentence: “Jenna a very gifted singer won the talent competition that was held in the local theatre.” But many who correctly put the commas around “a very gifted singer” failed to get a mark, to the bafflement of their teachers.
Another question asked pupils to insert a semi-colon into the right place in the sentence: “Come and see me tomorrow I will not have time to see you today.” Again many pupils appeared to have got it correct, placing the semi-colon between “tomorrow” and “I”, but scored zero while their peers got a mark for the same answer.
And all kinds of comments were made about this post, mostly from teachers, and so they bear rehearsing here.
From a FS teacher...One of the reasons I quit Functional Skills marking was because students who clearly knew the answer were marked down over something stupid, whilst barely literate students would get the mark. The questions were also sometimes a little ambiguous, and able students offering feasible and appropriate alternatives didn't get the mark as it the scheme was so prescriptive they were only allowed to state the obvious.
From a senior manager in education....'Time to end SATS? Do they serve any useful purpose? Are they any better than teacher assessment? Or are they really a stick with which to beat so-called 'failing schools', especially those that are resisting 'academisation'?'
So if they...
1) use a semi-colon in the first place - suggesting they're definitely getting taught this complex punctuation mark
2) get it absolutely in the right place (which takes conscious thinking)
It will be marked incorrectly if it's disproportionately large or not curved in the approved way??
That's just punishing handwriting - not real (and correct) thought. How can there be such prescriptivism while ignoring the success of the student??
From another teacher/ mother....It's also prejudiced against left handers. It's hard to judge the placement/ size when your hand is covering what has just been written...
I was a psychology and social sciences teacher for many years and now I am in the throes of a teaching and research career in HE. I care passionately about education. This blog will show you why and how.