Another attempt from me to try and blog regularly – we shall see…:
Many teachers (particularly Year 6 teachers such as myself) will have heard this news on Tuesday and felt a small spark of anticipation: https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/nut-calls-sats-be-suspended-after-widespread-criticism-new-assessment
Yes, the teaching unions have finally decided enough is enough with the upcoming assessments in May and have called for the 2015-16 SATs to be abandoned for a number of reasons: over-realistic targets, too short a time between exemplifications and assessment and chaos over schools monitoring of progress and attainment with no clear way offered by government to support this being a few of the arguments.
Such arguments are founded on sound reasoning but here I list a few reasons why this current Year 6 should sit the national assessments this May:
1. To keep schools accountable for progression in learning
The main principle of statutory assessment in primary education is to keep schools in check to ensure they are not doing our children a disservice in poor quality learning. They do not take these results with them into their future lives and it will not have an impact on which secondary school they are placed in. As such, this has to be considered when deciding whether to abandon the SATs. If the SATs were to be abandoned, then how could Ofsted possibly decide before they enter a school how well the children learn and progress in the school and make a pre-judgement?
(Although…due to the clear lack of communication about how the new assessments link to previous levels and no direction on how even to monitor progression in schools, a single result this summer will not represent progression that this cohort have made since Reception…so forget that).
2. To assist secondary schools in providing well-pitched teaching and learning from September
Whilst children’s SATs results do not influence what secondary school they are placed in, they do help the high school determine what level children are at (approximately) so they can provide the sufficient support or challenge for each child. This indication is vital if the secondary school is to help children hit the ground running in their learning and make as much progress as possible from when they start in September. If the SATs are abandoned with this cohort, they will be denied the opportunity to make this effective start as secondary school will only have the primary schools assessment and, with multiple schools feeding children into the high school, it won’t be possible to effectively discern a child’s level of understanding.
(Although…let’s be honest, most secondary schools assess the new intake within the first few weeks anyway because time has elapsed over summer since the SATs – as well as a Summer 2 term of limbo – and a one time assessment in May is only a snapshot of a child’s abilities. I had a child who was achieving Level 2/3 in their Reading test as we prepared for the SATs consistently and when the real ones came he achieved a Level 4! To this day I don’t what the secondary school he went to thought when they received this child who has a Level 4 in Reading and then sees what he can actually do…so that point is void!)
3. To help parents see which schools help children learn the best
The SATs are an effective measure for parents to see which schools they would want their children to go to because they can see what percentage of children achieve what they’re meant to if they attend this school. Not only this, but the very helpful leaders in education collate all this data into league tables, helping the world to see just which schools should be sought after.
(Although…if educators and schools are in a state of confusion about what assessment is these days I’m not sure what these poor parents will make of it. They live busy enough lives as it is without trying to decipher where their child is at in their learning. The number of puzzled faces I got when I told these parents “Your child is meeting the current expectation of a Year 6 child in Maths” was embarrassing. Although I guess I can now pull out a handy exemplification document which shows them exactly what that means…all in a 10 minute Parents Evening appointment! So…I don’t think that point has much standing either…)
I think by now you may have recognised my view on this. Usually, I am not one to say that SATs are a waste of time/are useless/have an adverse effect on children – but with the poor organisation, communication and expectations imposed, I am struggling to see how this year’s SATs will be bemeficial to the children sitting them. The reasons for having them are in disrepair due to how they have been implemented. The unions are meeting today – I shall look forward to the next installment of this saga…