Most of my pupils’ arithmetic (especially addition and subtraction), knowledge of timetables, and concepts relating to practical use of time and money were significantly higher. Yet these pupils could not answer these types of questions when presented in an exam paper. Poor command of the English language meant they never fully understood the question they were reading.
One 15 year old pupil resorted to writing “CBA”, (can’t be arsed) on a KS1 SATS question on the area of a rectangle and refused to finish the second half of the paper. He would rather pretend, doing the paper was waste of his time, than an accurate test of his knowledge.
After the exam I quickly established that he did not know what the words perimeter and area meant. So I agreed that the paper was not an accurate test of his knowledge and said, let do something different.
“Can you work out how much paint you would need to buy to paint the walls of the classroom?”
I explained how to work out paint needed for 1 wall and he was able to work out the surface area of the classroom walls.
I then asked him, would you paint the glass on the windows?
He asked for his worksheet back then correctly subtracted the areas of the windows and the door from the total.
I then asked him, how much skirting board would you need for the room, he correctly deducted the width of the door from the total and realised the skirting boards would be present under the window.
I looked at the paper and laughed, saying you were right; the maths paper is not an accurate test of your maths knowledge, since the questions you just answered were a lot harder than the one you were asked.
I then picked another question, about how many rides a boy at the fairground