ERIC Number: ED374432
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1994-Jun
Reference Count: N/A
School Reform through Examinations: Lessons from the British Experience. Occasional Paper No. 38.
Freedman, Sarah Warshauer
A study examined national examinations in Britain and their effects on what and how students learn. A national questionnaire was completed by 695 teachers across grade levels and 702 of their students at the secondary level in both the United States and Great Britain. Observations were conducted in eight English/language arts classrooms in the two countries, across the equivalent grades 6-9. Two case study classes, one in the United States and one in England, were paired and students exchanged their writing with one another for an entire academic year. Observations were conducted in 1987 and 1988, when the national examination system was in a state of flux. The exam classrooms had to adhere to requirements that inhibited the teachers' abilities to build a coherent curriculum with their students and inhibited the amounts and kinds of writing the students did. The high stakes of the examiner audience and the teachers' and students' perceptions of the kind of writing that was appropriate for the exams constricted how and what students wrote. Students in the exam classes, unlike the groups of younger British students who had no exams and unlike their United States partners, showed real involvement in their writing only when they were not writing for the examiner, which was rarely. The British examination system, in 1994, has changed to include more emphasis on terminal exams and less emphasis on portfolios or coursework. Findings suggest that the path to curricular reform through examinations, though tempting, remains elusive. (Contains 10 references.) (RS)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy, Berkeley, CA.
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (Great Britain)