Are SATs a fair way to assess our children?

Apologies for the scant contributions of late, but my mind has been preoccupied by essays, assignments and assessed teaching practice – the pearls of continuing my education, this time into the realms of tutor / teacher training (in the lifelong learning sector!).

I’ve not stopped studying since leaving school, some sixteen years ago; such is my thirst for knowledge! And if anything I am more committed to studying than I ever was in my younger years. But perhaps that is because my preference for nights down the pub and late night parties is now diminished! Time with my family is now much more precious. And none so important as time with my ten-year old daughter. I have recently been helping her to ‘swot’ for her Standard Assessment Tests (SATs); tests that allow comparison of a child’s progress in Maths and English against the National Average. Tests that, to all intents and purposes, have precipitated a waterfall of salty tears in my home; begging the question are SATs a fair way to assess our children?

SATs I have learned from the Directgov website are designed to assess whether our children are working at, above or below the target level, or standard, for their age. With all eleven year olds expected to achieve level four. Sounds simple, right? But surely forcing our children to participate in six hours of summative assessment is not the most accurate measure of their progress to date?! They have, after-all, spent thousands of hours, from year one to year six, engaged in classroom learning! It doesn’t seem right that all their efforts and experiences are reflected by six measly hours of written assessment in Maths & English.

And what of differentiation or multiple intelligences that make up the pedagogy of learning? For SATs take no account of individual learning styles nor offer a variety of resources. They don’t take into account the tears and stresses of our children who feel the weight of the World on their shoulders at being coerced into a formal ‘pen and paper’ scenario. SATs merely demonstrate how well each child performs under pressure.

And then when the stress of the SATs dissipates, our children will be boxed into ‘above average’, ‘average’ or ‘below average’ categories and labelled as such as they embark on their journey into secondary education. And this assessment based solely on two subjects, Maths and English!

And so, in answer to the question, ‘Are SATs a fair way to assess our children?’ – I would have to shout a resounding ‘No!’. I believe that SATs do not help our children, nor do they bear any striking resemblance to the learning process (at least not the one that I am learning to teach!). How ironic for a study owl like me!!

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