SCRAP SATS – Teachers better than tests at predicting grades

Demonstration against SATs outside the Department of Education

CHILDREN across the UK began sitting their Sats tests yesterday, with parents at many schools boycotting the exams and taking their children out of school. Meanwhile, a new study from King’s College London (KCL) has concluded Sats are no better than teachers at predicting pupils’ GCSE and A-Level results.

The study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry yesterday, found teacher assessments at age seven, 11 and 14 are just as effective as using Sats results to predict pupils’ subsequent exam success.

Dr Kaili Rimfeld, one of the report’s lead authors, said: ‘We have shown for the first time that teacher assessments predict GCSE and A-level results just as well as earlier exam scores.

‘The fact that exam scores correlate so highly with the teacher assessments raises questions about the value of the testing culture that characterises compulsory education in the UK.’

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary, of the National Education Union said: ‘These research findings could not be more timely.

‘They show that teacher assessment is as reliable as exams to predict student achievement.

‘Surely we must now question the amount of testing which we subject our children to at primary and secondary level.’

Currently, children take Sats at the end of their final year of primary school, while the tests for seven-year-olds are being phased out in favour of ‘baseline assessments’ for children at the end of Reception. This will test children in their first week of school, when they are as young five or even four-years-old.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced that if elected, he would scrap Sats because primary school children are ‘unique’ and should not have to go through ‘extreme pressure testing’. Corbyn said that children should be ‘encouraged to be creative’ and allowed to ‘let their imagination roam’ rather than be subjected to the ‘unnecessary pressure of national exams’.

At one of the many schools around the country in which parents are boycotting the tests, fifteen parents of pupils in Bealings School near Woodbridge, Suffolk, pulled their children from school yesterday saying ‘over-testing was ruining the pupils’ education’.

Heather Chandler, one of the parents, said it was ‘far too early’ for the children, aged six and seven, to be tested.