Key Stage 2 SATs – Should They Stay or Should They Go?
As I spoke about in a previous post, the potential upcoming SATs boycott by NUT and NAHT members of Key Stage 2 SATs is bringing the issue right back to the top of the news. As well as being an issue for individual schools, it’s also a hot topic for governors – especially if you’re in a school with a head that decides on a potentially illegal boycot.
So what do you think. Separate of the strike issue, should KS2 SATs go?
You can discuss this issue further on our Facebook page. I’ve set up a discussion board on this very topic. See the next post for some of the interesting feedback on whether governors should be paid.
SATs are the wrong tool for the job. It’s entirely right that primary schools should be held accountable for their performance at the end of Year 6, but this could be much more effectively done through teacher assessment than through blunt national tests. The government, school inspectors and the public feel that the results are ‘scientific’ when presented with this performance data – but the reality is that these tests are highly variable and often do not provide a true measure of a child’s ability.
As it stands the SATs ruin the whole of Year 6, and bend all the teaching that year towards a dull exam curriculum that focusses on drilling to the test to the exclusion of all other things. What with the challenges of transition in Year 7 that’s a whole 2 years of a child’s education disrupted.
More than that, pupils do realise that these tests are a big deal (for the school at least) and it’s unfair to put pupils through such testing early on in their lives.
Nobody says that SATs like this are a perfect measure of performance, but they are the best, the fairest and the easiest for schools to deliver. If the results that SATs give can sometimes be variable what about the variance in teachers’ judgements in teacher assessment – the only credible alternative. The pressure to ‘mark up’ will be even higher in a high stakes environment such as Year 6.
Look what’s happened in schools that are no longer forced to do the Year 9 SATs – most of them still opt to do the test. Why? Because teacher assessment is laborious, because national marking is fair, and because with a national test you can benchmark your performance against that of other schools more easily.
If the problem is that schools deliver a dull exam based curriculum in Year 6 is the problem really the test itself? Surely if there is a problem it lies in the accountability regime that prevents schools from gaming the system and dare I say it with the schools themselves that allow themselves to get sucked in to a state where they’re subverting a child”s education to climb league tables.
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