A 14 anni (ossia all’età equivalente a quella ufficiale della fine della scuola media italiana) i risultati ai test strutturati nazionali inglesi di matematica (i test alla conclusione del ciclo "Key Stage 3") sono inferiori alle aspettative.

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Inghilterra: gli standard prefissati per l’inglese e la matematica non sono stati conseguiti

"The proportion of 14-year-olds in England reaching the required standard in maths tests fell slightly this year" è il sottotiolo dell’articolo di BBC News. C’è dunque stata una leggera regressione. Le cose non vanno per il meglio nemmeno nel sistema scolastico inglese ed il governo è accusato di fornire un’informazione compiacente sui progressi conseguiti negli apprendimenti fondamentali (matematica; lettura e scrittura in inglese).

Non è facile pilotare l’insegnamento e le scuole di un sistema statale. In Inghilterra, per esempio, i ragazzi hanno fatto progressi nella comprensione in lettura ( risultato che potrebbe essere imputato all’ora quotidiana di lettura obbligatoria) ma sono regrediti nello scritto. In altri termini si scrive meno bene, ossia meno correttamente. Questa è un soggetto di preoccupazione per le autorità scolastiche e per il governo, ed un risultato denunciato da molti (famiglie, padronato, docenti di liceo, ecc.).

Le ragazze sono migliori dei ragazzi nelle quattro materie fondamentali (core subjects): scrittura e lettura in inglese, matematica, scienze e informatica. Secondo il governo, non c’è da allarmarsi eccessivamente. La tendenza dominante resta orientata verso il bello e la progressione spettacolare dei punteggi nei test da dieci anni a questa parte non è smentita. Per il governo conservatore ombra invece i risultati sono deludenti ed allarmanti. La metà delle scuole medie (le secondarie di primo grado), come lo sostiene l’OFSTED, non sono abbastanza buone.

Come al solito, senza avere in mano i dati originali, è difficile prendere posizione su una diatriba come questa. Rimane però certo che non è facile migliorare i risultati scolastici anche laddove le competenze essenziali sono ridotte alle discipline fondamentali e sono valutate in modo sistematico e rigoroso. Questo esito dovrebbe raffreddare un poco la retorica ministeriale italiana che invece continua a tratteggiare pomposi ed ambiziosi programmi, senza obiettivi precisi da conseguire, in un sistema che annaspa e che è altamente disuguale.

Anche in California si osserva lo stesso fenomeno, ossia un rallentamento del miglioramento dei risultati in matematica. Si veda l’articolo California Students Show Only Minimal Test Gains, a cura dell’ The Associated Press, apparso sul settimanale americano Education Week, leggibile solo se si è abbonati. [1]

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Fewer teens achieve maths target

BBC News, 14 August 2007

The proportion of 14-year-olds in England reaching the required standard in maths tests fell slightly this year.

Some 76% reached Level 5 or above, against 77% in 2006 after a three-point rise over the previous year.

There was an increase of one percentage point in the proportions of pupils meeting English and science standards, to 74% and 73%.

But the government had set a target of 85% reaching Level 5 in English and in mathematics by this year.

Within the English results, there was a six percentage point increase in the share of boys meeting the required standards for reading but a drop of two percentage points in writing.

Some 65% of boys met the standards for reading compared to 78% of girls, while 80% of girls met the standards for writing compared with 67% of boys.

Boys’ writing was highlighted as a particular concern when the primary school results for 11-year-olds were published last week.

In English overall, 80% of girls made the grade compared with 67% of boys.

In fact girls out-performed boys in each of the core subjects.

Some 76% of girls and 75% of boys met the mathematics standard, and 73% of girls and 72% of boys meeting science standard.

In information and communication technology (ICT) 74% of pupils met or exceeded Level 5.

Upward trend

This is a three percentage point rise since last year and a 24 point rise since 1997.

The Key Stage 3 results are seen as important because they are seen as an important indicator of GCSE success.

Schools Minister Jim Knight said the results were consistent with the trend of "unprecedented improvements" over the last decade.

"Whilst I’m disappointed to see a drop in maths and writing, it’s important to put this into context.

"The overall trend remains upwards and there have been dips in the past that have been quickly reversed," he said.

Soul-searching’

"Confident literacy skills can help boys succeed in all subjects," Mr Knight said.

"We know that boys tend to read less than girls.

"That is why we are funding every secondary school library to acquire new books targeted at teenage boys and introduced initiatives such as every child a reader."

But schools needed to continue to do better, he added.

The general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, John Dunford, said: "Key Stage 3 tests should be treated as a staging post on the way to the more important examinations at 16 and 18.

"They should not be turned into league tables which create days of national soul-searching."

The government said the tests ensured schools were accountable for children’s progress.

The National Association of Head Teachers said the way that standards were rising year on year needed to be celebrated.

Complacent’

Shadow Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the results confirmed Ofsted’s view that half of secondary schools were performing at a level that was "not good enough".

The government was being complacent.

Secondary schools needed to learn lessons from the best, with a rigorous focus on better behaviour and classes organised in sets in all academic subjects so children were taught in groups of similar ability.

Liberal Democrat spokesman Stephen Williams said the government had fallen "woefully short" of its own targets.

"Any progress previously made has now stalled or is even going backwards," he said.

"Ministers must now say when they expect to reach their targets and what measures they will put in place to help teachers and children achieve them."

[1] Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.