SATs and why I (almost) like them

A blog post today as a follow on from something my daughter said on the morning of the SATs and the subsequent twitter chat on the subject.

SATs are compulsory national tests for primary school pupils. Children in England are required to take Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) at the age of 11 (school year 6). SATs were first introduced in 1991 for Key Stage 1 (KS1)
SATs are given at the end of year 2, year 6 and year 9. They are used to show your child's progress compared with other children born in the same month.

It won't have escaped your attention that some parents kept their children away from school for the day (risking fines) as a protest.

My daughter is 16 and currently revising for her GCSEs. She was surprised at the kerfuffle, and stated that while she didn't love tests or exams, starting them early, including 'big' tests' has helped to prepare her for the ones she now faces and she thinks that starting testing early is good as it starts to make tests common place and takes away the fear often associated with them.
She went on to say, that in her opinion, it is the adults making a fuss about the tests (and she included teachers, parents, and I suspect, the media, in this 'adult' group) that is the real problem, not the tests themselves, which she said she didn't really even notice when she had the first ones at age 6 and was OK with at age 11 as the teachers didn't make a big deal about it.

I've always held by the belief that tests are a useful gauge of how teaching is going, and can pick up on children that are falling behind, or leaping ahead of their peers, it can help to stream classes and that can be a good thing. But I also don't think that testing children more and more will improve teaching.

you don't make a pig fatter by weighing it

Improving teaching is based on lots of things, mainly the teachers themselves, and the curriculum they are given. I think a wider curriculum is better as it is more likely to capture childrens' imaginations. (currently I think teachers feel compelled to teach to do well at exams)

So, I was interested that a child that has recently done the tests was in favour of them, though many adults are telling me they have changed since she took them. And that opens up a whole new can of worms about changing the ways schools, teaching and exams happen; I firmly believe that constant change is a bad thing. Changing in education has become a thing that politicians seem to do now for the sake of it. We really need to look at why we are schooling children. To make good workers? To improve their minds? To help them think? And then look at the best way to achieve that goal and stick to it (sorry I have rambled off of the point)

My own view is that testing is needed. It should start early with the emphasis being that it is the teaching being tested and the children should not even be told it's happening to begin with. (am I the only parent that remembers the 'school inspectors' of the 70s visiting the school and sitting in the back of class making notes, and on the day before the visit the teachers begging us to behave?) But constant testing won't improve teaching or learning, so let's let teachers get on with that too.

If you fancy telling me what YOU think, pop over to Facebook where I have a page that would love your thoughts, or tweet me.
Thanks for reading.

"Mummy is a Gadget Geek" also wrote on this subject here

and you can try your luck at a mini SATs here (I scored 6/10)