Against the proposed Y6 Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Tests - your views needed!

(149 Posts)
KarenInglis Sun 16-Dec-12 19:01:11

All - please read this open letter to the Times Educational Supplement from Alan Peat about the proposed grammar, punctuation and spelling tests for Y6 children. I don't know Alan - this just happened to pass my Twitter feed. But I am glad that I read it.

My children are all grown up now but as an author and being passionate about encouraging reading and writing I think what he has to say needs a very close look.

If you agree with what he has to say please do tweet/FB etc using the hashtag he has supplied. He is clearly trying to raise the profile of his piece to ensure that it will be picked up by the TES.

Best wishes,


Malaleuca Sun 23-Dec-12 10:23:28

Well, as I said earlier, there may be new stuff for teachers to learn too! What's the definite article now called?

mrz Sun 23-Dec-12 10:30:38

a determiner

learnandsay Sun 23-Dec-12 10:33:31

Are both the indefinite and the definite articles called determiners?

learnandsay Sun 23-Dec-12 10:35:02

If they are I'd teach the old terms and then tell the children that some people now call both of them determiners and that's what the test expects.

FactOfTheMatter Sun 23-Dec-12 10:40:12

Hehe, 'or whatever' is actually part of what secondary teachers have to say - for the reason you give, learnandsay We don't know what the percentage will be!

Hamishbear, these tests will be used to rank schools. It's not about what pupils know - teachers can assess that without this sort of testing. But the 'beauty' of test like this one is that it appears to be an objective measure, but in reality probably disadvantages school with a high number of EAL learners (ie non-English-speakers) or pupils from more deprived backgrounds. To take an example from the test linked to earlier, I think very few of my pupils would know that 'scaled' can mean 'climbed'. But they can fluently speak two or three times as many languages as the people saying that this test is the measure of their educational achievement.

I think the 'old' (hah!) National Literacy Strategy referred to articles as 'determiners'.

mrz Sun 23-Dec-12 10:43:01

yes both definite and indefinite articles are called determiners as are possessives my, yours, its, theirs etc, quantifiers such as few, many and demonstratives such as this and that ...all determiners

pointysettia Sun 23-Dec-12 16:51:28

Hamishbear so do you not have a problem with norm referencing then? Because I do.

Norm referencing presumes that every year, only a certain % of the pupils will score passing/good/excellent grades. This means that once the exam papers are in and marked, the exam boards get to look at the results and set the grade boundaries accordingly. In a strong year cohort, you will need to score a higher number of marks to get that pass than in a weak cohort.

So if you're a middling student in a strong cohort, you could find yourself in a position of having done better than someone in next year's cohort, but having a lower grade. How is that fair?

And to posit an extreme hypothetical situation - what if by some statistical miracle, everyone in a cohort scored, say, 100% correct answers. How would you use norm referencing then?

If someone scores 80% correct answers in year X, they should get the same person as someone who scores the same in year Y. The people who set exams should have the skills to ensure that the difficulty of the exams remains stable.

pointysettia Sun 23-Dec-12 16:52:42

mrz I am horrified by this talk of 'determiners' for types of words which had a perfectly useful and sensible name and definition. How can a possessive be classed the same as a definite or indefinite article? That isn't grammar, that's bollocks!

learnandsay Sun 23-Dec-12 19:55:32

Definite and indefinite articles haven't lost their meaning any more than English has been replaced by strak, noop, and jobe on account of the phonics test. The pupils who are taking the more difficult test will have to remember some daft terminology in order to do well. People looking on the bright side will be able to say that at least the children will be introduced to definite and indefinite articles, even if in the process they're having it explained to them that for the purpose of this test some moron in Whitehall has classified them all as determiners!

mrz Sun 23-Dec-12 20:00:48

" People looking on the bright side will be able to say that at least the children will be introduced to definite and indefinite articles" no they won't they will be introduced to "determiners" now

pointysettia Sun 23-Dec-12 20:06:03

Precisely, mrz - and I'd much rather my children were able to used definite and indefinite articles accurately in their writing than that they could identify a 'determiner' in a test. Which in fact they can, because their teachers know what they're doing. Only you'd never get The Govester to see that.

FactOfTheMatter Sun 23-Dec-12 21:09:16

What's very neat is that if they do use norm referencing here (and I'm speculating) and the top (say) 5% are awarded a level 6, they will then be the ones to go on to get a level 8 at the end of Key Stage 3, and ultimately the same 5% to get the A* grades at GCSE. No actual teaching required ;) They just stay 'top' of their cohort.

Malaleuca Tue 25-Dec-12 21:18:16

I can't see what is to be gained by the change in nomenclature but the UK government can't be blamed for that. It is grammar theorists according to wikipedia.

Ruprekt Sat 02-Feb-13 18:27:47

THIS is the thread I was looking for!

maizieD Sat 02-Feb-13 18:38:45

Well, Congratulations, you've found it! wine

Why were you looking for it?

Ruprekt Sat 02-Feb-13 18:46:57

Because I wanted to check out the SATS papers for Grammar for this year. grin

and i have just gone through one with my eldest and he did really well.

Feenie Sat 02-Feb-13 18:48:40

That's the same link I gave you earlier though, isn't it? confused

Curiosa Sat 02-Feb-13 22:37:13

Delighted by contents of sample grammar test. A lot of young primary school teachers have been let down by their own education and have poor grammar themselves so these tests are good for teacher and pupil and future employer!

Ruprekt Sat 02-Feb-13 22:39:58

yes it was Feenie but I wanted to re-read the comments!

goingmadinthecountry Sun 03-Feb-13 11:35:28

Are definite/indefinite articles now officially called determiners, or is it something just for school grammar?

mrz Sun 03-Feb-13 11:40:33

determiners are -

1 Article a boy the girls

2 Numeral two cars the first day

3 Possessive Adjective my job their friends

4 Quantifier some coffee few tickets

5 Demonstrative Adjective this tape those books

goingmadinthecountry Sun 03-Feb-13 11:51:43

Thank you. Is the fact they are determiners all they need to know then or do they need to know they are quantifiers/demonstrative adjectives etc?

Sample test looks pretty fair. Personally would like a section on "we done", "my pen don't work" and "should of" as well....

Ruprekt Sun 03-Feb-13 11:52:43

Oh I agree goingmad!! Should of............aaaaaargh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

mrz Sun 03-Feb-13 12:32:14

I prefer the level 6 test because it actually requires children to demonstrate they can use correct grammar in their writing

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