After my post yesterday about an article on TES which discussed the QTS Skills tests potential teachers are required to teach (https://mroberts1990.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/skills-tests/), I had a little discussion with @mr_chadwick and @miss_mcinerney. A point was well made that it’s ironic that sometimes people who are going into a profession that assess children don’t like being assessed themselves. I experienced this on my course. My cohort were required to take an audit test in English, Maths and Science to check or understanding and for ourselves to then go develop our understanding. The amount of complaining I heard was…a lot to say the least. I relished the opportunity if I’ll be honest! There was complaining definitely, but not pressure or fear, for this was for our own studying benefit.
Of course, children are tested much more than we are as adults, in terms of sit down exams. I’ve been in classes where on a weekly basis children are put through Mental Maths tests and spelling tests. This all cumulates, in the Primary environment, to the KS2 SATs. I read this excellent blog post here: http://theteachingnut.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/sats-necessary-evil.html
For a while now I have considered the SATs to be evil. Full stop. However, I am beginning to see value in them. Primary school and secondary school are worlds apart. I remember almost 13 years ago entering the secondary school in awe at the differences – seemingly gigantic school corridors, scary teachers who do not permit you out of your seat, a place where you buy your own school dinners, no ‘playing’ in the playgrounds (except football), and a variety of teachers you need to know. The secondary schools themselves need information on the influx of wide-eyed Year 7’s if they are too be able to teach them. A secondary school can have several feeder schools. I can’t imagine how long it might take to trawl through information (and in careful to use the word information, not data) that is not similar in methodology. The SATs, whilst limited to English, Maths and Science, can provide a beginning point for secondary educators.
So what is the stigma surrounding SATs. I can personally only see one thorn in this potentially useful assessment tool, and I’m sure many might feel the same way too – league tables.
The Premier League of education, where SATs results are analysed as might be Manchester City’s dominance over Manchester United this season. The argument for this practice is that it allows parents to be more informed of a schools ability to provide a quality education for their child. Now I, as an NQT, might well look at these tables when my son begins his education to see his best options – I am aware of schools close by, what the figures mean and the jargon of Ofsted reports. But does every parent take time to look at league tables. I imagine not. More might well do than I imagine but I guess there’s no quantitative data on that – would be interesting to know though!
From what I understand, league tables also benefit local and national government, helping them to see what schools are performing well, and which schools need a little shake up and a magnifying glass on them.
I, for one, think the SATs could be a great benefit to a child’s learning journey. But until the pressure of performance is taken away in sine measure at least, it will stay as it currently is – stressful, anxiety filled and feared.
I wonder if my University Audits were published against the rest of my colleagues and the bottom 20% were going to be given extra lectures, would there be a bit more fear and pressure then?