It’s Cito time (see Alphabet Soup) once again. Some 85% of the country’s primary school children will sit this annual test which will be used to determine the level of secondary school education they will enter.
The Cito test is not just one paper – it’s dragged out over several days – adding to the tension and the sleepless nights.
Nor is it taken by everyone. Teachers can decide not to enter less able pupils and so boost their school’s average Cito score which figures largely in school league tables. Other schools refuse to join the annual circus, arguing that 200 multiple choice questions on spelling, sums and topography say very little about how well a child is likely to do in the big bad world of secondary education.
But every year the press carry front page photographs of bright-eyed 12-year-olds with pen in hand and their good-luck toy on the edge of their desk. And every year there are endless articles about what the real aim of the Citotoets – and how really important it is.
Just to add to the hype this year, those brain boxes at the NOS public television channel are running a special Toetsjournaal (test news) every day this week. The six-minute bulletin will offer pupils and their parents ‘news, background and tips’ – just the thing the nervous 12-year-olds need when they come home to relax!