Students find their way around the NUT strike

On Thursday 24 April, when teachers confirmed their first national strike in over 20 years, schools were locked and students were turned away from the school gates. For many students preparing to take tests and exams, this could have proved highly disruptive; not for the 800,000 SAM Learning users though.A record breaking 2,958,674 pages of the UK’s most popular online test practice and revision service, SAM Learning, were accessed on Thursday by students across the UK, from other places outside school including home. Friday, a normal school day when teaching and learning recommenced, received almost 500,000 fewer page impressions on the service.

These impressive figures demonstrate the emergence of student ownership and motivation to learn independently. When provided with alternative learning and revision resources, students are proving that they have the desire and determination to further their academic abilities and readiness for examinations. SAM Learning allows revision to be marked online giving learners immediate, relevant and palpable feedback in a self assessment environment.

Mike Taylor, Sales and Marketing Director said: “Pupils’ use of SAM Learning is 10 per cent higher than last year. With SATS and GCSE revision reaching a peak in the next weeks, nearly 100,000 of them are logging on each day. We were not sure what to expect last Thursday, but what we have seen underlines the fact that levels of access to a computer and the internet outside school continue to rise. Pupils are clearly focussed and motivated at this time of year.”

 PEN comment: You can draw all sorts of conclusions from this press release and indeed it could be taken  as a depressing outcome of the high stakes testing regime the UK. Nonetheless it does indicate how digital technologies can be used anytime, anywhere. It also indicates just how capable students are to take learning on independently. A pity this wasn’t to their own agenda and needs rather than the one imposed by the National Curriculum.

The recent posting from AERO in their e-news just about sums up the real issues both sides of the Atlantic:

NCLB Administrative Tinkering Fails to Address Flawed “Test-and-Punish” Policies Initiated by Nation At Risk Misdiagnosis; 25-Year Testing Fixation Has Not Improved Ed. Quality or EquityFairTest – National Center for Fair & Open Testing

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings should mark the 25th anniversary of A Nation at Risk by seeking an overhaul of the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) law, which stemmed from the report’s misdiagnosis of educational problems. Instead, the administrative changes she proposed today fail to address the deep flaws in NCLB, according to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest).

“A Nation at Risk launched the country’s high-stakes testing movement,” explained FairTest Executive Director Jesse Mermell. “The resulting test-and-punish policies have not led to significant improvements in the quality of public education. That’s particularly true for the minority, low-income, disabled and immigrant students society has left behind.”
“The major problem in U.S. schools was not the ‘rising tide of mediocrity’ blamed by A Nation at Risk,” added FairTest Deputy Director Dr. Monty Neill. “Then and now a yawning gap in educational opportunity dragged down academic achievement.”
“National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data demonstrate the failure of NCLB, the latest phase of the over-testing trend,” Dr. Neill continued. “Since it became law, progress has slowed or stopped entirely in both reading and math. That’s because repetitive drilling for tests undermines high-quality learning.”
“It’s time for a different approach,” FairTest’s Mermell concluded. “Government must mandate fewer standardized tests. Instead, we should help teachers use high-quality assessment tools to diagnose student needs and improve learning. Schools need better support, not counter-productive sanctions.”
The Forum on Educational Accountability (FEA), chaired by FairTest, has offered detailed recommendations for overhauling NCLB. FEA’s proposals are based on the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB, signed by more than 140 national education, civil rights, religious, disability, civic and labor groups.

Proposals for overhauling NCLB are online at and

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