Saturday, 9 May 2009

Science SATs to be scrapped

It's hard to believe the timing of the news about Science SATs. In our school we've just spent five school weeks revising for the Science SATs, and just a few days before the children get stuck in, they get the news that next year's Science SATs won't even take place. How frustrating for this year's children! I'm sure it's going to have a negative effect on this year's Science results, too. After all the children are now bound to think that they are pointless. What's the point - they are about to be scrapped!

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the SATs being scrapped altogether, but once again Ed hasn't got the Balls to do the right thing and has only agreed to drop one of the three subjects. Teacher assessment clearly gives a better representation of a child's ability. But, for the time being, apparently tests give a better indication of standards in English and Maths.

If the SATs are set to continue, I wonder how long it will be before an ICT SAT is introduced...

The Guardian reports:
Ed Balls, the education secretary, today backed a drive to improve teacher assessment to the point where it is robust enough to replace national Sats tests in England.

Accepting a report from an expert group on assessment, he announced that Sats tests in maths and English for 11-year olds would be retained, but tests in science would be scrapped in favour of teacher assessment.

The review argued that while the current tests were beneficial and gave parents objective information, teacher assessment provided a richer picture of children's learning, and it appeared to open the way for scrapping Sats in the long term. This type of national testing was dropped in
Wales and is not used in Scotland.

The group, including the former chief inspector Sir Jim Rose, urged the government to "invest in, strengthen and monitor the reliability of teacher assessment, to judge whether a move away from externally marked national tests might be viable at a future date".

Rose told a press briefing: "Clearly if you had a situation where you had teacher assessment that was so robust that you were confident the information it was delivering was as good, or better, than national testing, then by God wouldn't you go for it? Meanwhile, you would want to run both together, wouldn't you? We want a belt and braces job."

But retaining Sats in the short term sets the stage for a confrontation with two of England's biggest teaching unions, the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Head Teachers, who are to ballot on boycotting next year's tests if they are not scrapped.
A move towards teacher assessment has already happened for seven- and 14-year olds, and will now take place in science at the end of primary school. Single-level tests – taken by children when the teacher thinks they are ready – also involve more teacher input. A pilot study of these tests in 400
schools has been extended for a third year, and they could form part of the eventual replacement for Sats.

League tables based on Sats results will not be abolished, but Balls accepted the expert group's recommendation that report cards sumarising a wider range of information on each school's performance should be developed.

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