I am not an anti-test person. I used to love tests as a child. Yes I was “that” kid. I excelled in school through my primary years. I could read, write and do maths before I started so was always given workbooks for the year groups above mine. I asked for extra homework and was the proper geek with her hand in the air constantly. (Nowadays I even love data and have done a professional run down of the changes to assessment and tests for Key Stages 1 and 2 in my work blog. This blog is my personal rant though!)
I was top of the class in everything academic. Apart from one area. Handwriting. I had appalling handwriting. I now have passable handwriting which becomes appalling the longer I have to write for.
I could not possibly, under the new interim teacher assessment frameworks, be put in the “Working in Greater Depth” category. I do have a phsyical disability though. But it is not physical enough apparently and, therefore, I am not allowed a scribe or an electronic aid. I am blind in one eye. It’s one of those disabilities which is not really a disability. Mostly noone notices it. Many friends who have known me for years do not know about it. It affects me daily but mostly in ways I compensate for naturally as I have had it since birth. I bump into things. A lot. I have bruises on my left side all the time.
It didn’t stop me progressing through life and being employed (although I have been turned down for interviews based on my hand written cover letters). I do not get any benefits for it. I don’t even get my glasses for free or discounted. I had one teacher and one teacher only, in the whole of my schooling, who didn’t care about it. Every other teacher wrote it on my report every year. I quote “must improve her handwriting.” Well gee thanks that is very helpful. As soon as I get my depth perception sorted I will be all over that!
My mum had to come into school at least once in every school year to remind my teachers about it. Usually after yet another PE teacher had allowed a stray ball to smack me in the head and then yell at me “WHY DIDN’T YOU GET OUT OF THE WAY???!!!” …Ermmm gosh Miss I don’t know? Maybe I couldn’t see the ball flying at me, at great speed, on my blind side? A little heads-up would have been lovely instead of the egg now forming on my skull.
All that aside though. Noone had to actually down grade me for it. Apart from my secondary school German teacher who relished in telling me I got every question right but she only gave me B- because…you know…handwriting. (Not once when living in German-speaking Switzerland did anyone mention my handwriting while I did the shopping and ordering for my chalet btw)
With the new interim frameworks (and I have watched the test webinars for Ks1 and KS2 for clarification) I would never be able to work in greater depth. Apparently my handwriting could potentially hold me back. Now at KS2 I was definitely legible. So maybe I could scrape in. But at the age of 7, when I would have been subject to the Key Stage 1 frameworks, I wore a patch over my “good” eye to try and make my “bad” eye see (it didn’t work – sorry for the spoiler) so I was not even writing legibly at all times. I would have no “consistent evidence” for my teacher to use to back me up. I would have been at the bottom of the class instead of the top. Due to a disability which apparently does not count.
I understand the progress measure. I understand the value added. I know that if I am put into a higher grade in Key Stage 1 it puts me at a “disadvantage” in showing progress against my peers at Key Stage 2. But you see all I would have heard as a seven year old is “you didn’t do well enough” and that is not going to inspire me further. If the only thing I cannot do is something I know I will never be able to do, and through no fault of my own, then what would be the point of working as hard as I did? Why learn grammar better than the rest of the class? Why excel in punctuation? Why take as many extra spellings home as the teacher will allow? I can never get the top grade anyway.
I started writing this as Jodie the 36 year old and ended it as a very sad, despondent 7 year old.