The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0136 Tuesday, 20 January 2004
Date: Monday, 19 Jan 2004 22:41:52 -0800
Subject: Shakespeare Test to Be Dumbed Up
[SHAKSPERians will remember in February 2003 when the UK education
authority announced a Shakespeare test in which, as the Guardian
observed, "more than half the marks will be awarded without youngsters
having to read any of the Bard's plays." Thread at
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2003/0241.html Only 11 months later
there is the sequel:]
'Dumbed Down' Shakespeare Test Set to Be Scrapped
By Dominic Hayes, Education Correspondent, PA News
The Scotsman, Jan. 20, 2004
A school test criticised by teachers for "dumbing down" Shakespeare
looks set to be scrapped, it emerged today.
Hundreds of thousands of 14-year-olds had to answer two sets of
questions on Shakespeare last summer, but the set worth the most marks
required little, if any, knowledge or understanding of his plays.
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), which set and marked
the test, was expected to announce later this week that, following
consultations with teachers, it will be replaced in 2005.
This follows a review ordered by Education Secretary Charles Clarke.
Questions designed to test pupils' knowledge of three plays - Henry V,
Macbeth and Twelfth Night - were worth a total of 18 marks.
But a creative writing test linked to the plays but requiring no
detailed knowledge was worth 20 marks.
Pupils who answered the question "linked to" Macbeth had to produce a
"short, light-hearted piece for a book about villains" , said the QCA's
own analysis of last summer's tests.
English teachers were furious that pupils could get more than half the
marks on Shakespeare-related questions without having to show a deeper
understanding of his work.
A QCA spokesman said the regulator's response to the consultation would
be published on Thursday.
He said: "We plan to write to English teachers this week and inform them
of the outcome of the consultation."
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