I hope this message finds you well rested after the holidays – even if they might seem, for me at least, a distant memory!
This week, I would like to discuss the obligatory French and Maths assessments for CP and 6ème, which have been introduced this year by the French Ministry of Education. Standardised tests of this type have had a complicated history in France; they come and go over the years, more or less in keeping with the changing of minister for education. They are praised and criticised in equal measure, considered indispensable by some and a waste of time by others.
Let me put all of my cards on the table here and let it be known that, personally, I tend to belong to the second group. The notion of a national standardised assessment that, by definition, asks the same questions and expects the same answers from thousands of children of the same age, goes against the personalised learning pathways that we, at the French Section, strive to offer each of our students.
To clarify, I don’t think it is particularly interesting for the students to have to sit these tests, but they do have some benefits. It is important to understand that these assessments are not like traditional tests – aiming to identify a child’s progress, they are looking for trends rather than individual results. We are not interested in whether a child has answered a certain question (in)correctly; we want to analyse the proportion of students who chose the right or wrong answer. So you see, the tests are much more interesting for the school than for the students. In the best case scenario, they will enable us to draw conclusions and note areas for improvement at a school level.
We must, nonetheless, be very cautious in the conclusions that we draw because there are a number of factors at play. In CP for example: the age difference from January to December is important, some children have been learning French for only a few weeks and some have simply no interest in answering the questions (the instructions are very clear: no coaxing, no clarification to encourage children to answer if they don’t want to/ can’t). I imagine, thanks to teacher feedback that the form these assessments take will be modified from year to year.
6ème classes will sit the tests in November; the CP classes did them just before the holidays. Parents of children in these classes can discuss their children’s results with their teachers during the next parent-teacher meetings. We are currently analysing the CP results according to trends in nationality, age, learning pathway (FAL, French only…) I hope to be able to share detailed conclusions with you soon.
Have an excellent weekend,