Computer-based school tests 'no longer required'


The education minister said primary schools would not be required to use computer-based tests for literacy and numeracy the following autumn, on 21 May 2013.

John O'Dowd told MLAs that a significant number of schools reported difficulties in carrying out the computer tests.

"The experience of many children and their teachers was unquestionably negative," he said.

The minister said he was particularly concerned that in some cases pupils had become distressed when they faced technical difficulties.

Mr O'Dowd said he knew schools were still planning to carry out assessments voluntarily using a range of tools.

The numeracy and literacy tests would still be available for primary schools, and the Department of Education was looking for schools willing to participate in a pilot programme examining how the assessments might develop in the future.

The minister said computer-based tests were initially chosen as they provided greater flexibility, minimised teacher workloads and could adjust the sequence or difficulty of questions in line with a pupil's ability.

Mr O'Dowd said he would make a more detailed announcement on these tests later in the year.

Education Committee chairman Mervyn Storey of the DUP described these tests as a "debacle". He said the minister and the department had "had an object failure in listening to schools".

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