Thursday, 6 December 2007

SATs results annulled

The Daily Mail reports that, rising numbers of high-performing primary schools are having their national test results annulled because they cheated. Some have been found to have doctored pupils' scripts prior to marking. Other breaches include giving candidates more than the allotted time for tests, allowing them unsupervised breaks, and verbal coaching.

In this year's tests, four primaries had all their results cancelled out across the three subjects tested – English, maths and science. A fifth had its results cancelled in one subject. Figures from the exams watchdog, the National Assessment Agency, show it is the highest number of schools to be punished across all subjects since 2001.

Heads said the trend for bending the rules displayed the "extreme pressure" schools were under to meet performance targets. However ministers insisted it was "unacceptable and unnecessary" for any teacher to cheat. Education experts compared the practice to the problem of drug-taking among top class athletes.

A spokesman for Hackney Learning Trust said an internal disciplinary investigation was being conducted on behalf of the governors Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "It is deeply sad to see some schools fall into the trap of malpractice. This demonstrates the extreme pressure that some schools and some teachers feel to perform to targets which may not reflect the ability of the children in their midst. We need an assessment system that promotes professional integrity and this one does not."

I thought one of the comments on the Mail's website summed up how I feel about this:

Brilliant! The government spends millions setting up the tests, millions checking the tests and then millions finding that the results don't mean a thing anyway. Let us try getting the setters, checkers and all the others involved TEACHING the children then perhaps standards might go up. I just wish "prudent" Brown and his pathetic ministers would get out so that "proper" people can get on with the job of running the country and teaching and not box-ticking our young.- David, Romford Essex

Whilst I disapprove of cheating, I find it understandable. Schools are under such pressure to show high standards that it's no wonder that some schools bend the rules a little. Like the comment said, SATs seem to be an endless drain on financial resources - money to set the tests, money to check the tests and money to check that the results are right or wrong.

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