In this chapter, the children’s encounters with standardised national examination systems are described. They talk about the process of sitting the examinations and the conclusions they come to about their own capabilities. In the NCEA system they were classified - and classified themselves - by examination results as Achieved, Merit or Excellence students. Some children had had to sit screening tests on entry to secondary school and the results were used to place them in ability streams. The children judged their mathematical capabilities almost solely on the results of standardised examinations, and for those whose results showed a decline, they sought explanations including lack of studying, feeling overwhelmed by the volume of material to be committed to memory or loss of interest in the subject. Most had come to believe that facility with mathematics was innate, a part of personal makeup, and that those who were good at mathematics were particularly intelligent. The case of one child with learning difficulties is examined for the ways in which the standardised examination system failed to recognise his capabilities.
KeywordsMathematical Ability Internal Assessment Good Mathematician Smart Learner Enter Score
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