Thursday, March 26, 2009
There’s a report in today’s newspapers that the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) are both calling for a boycott of Key Stage 2 SATs in 2010. Is the day of liberation coming?
There’s a growing realisation that SATs tests are completely unreliable. The Qualifications and Curriculum authority (QCA) carried out a review of Key Stage 3 marking and found that 44% of grades in English writing were wrong, in reading up to a third were faulty and in science one in six.
The test results are used by Ofsted as an infallible guide to the quality of education in a particular school, Professor John MacBeath found that Ofsted inspection gradings directly correlated with exam results in 98% of primaries and 96% of secondaries.
The key stage 1, 2 and 3 tests cost £50 million in 2008, that’s enough to pay the salaries of 2,500 teachers.
So is it time to hang out the bunting? Both the NUT and the NAHT will come under pressure to retreat from a boycott. If there is a ballot I’m not confident that the NAHT will be able to deliver a majority vote. The NUT ballotted its primary school members in 2003, but whilst 86% supported a SATs boycott the turnout was only 34%. The other teacher ‘unions’ NAS and ATL have already waved the white flag and indicated that they would not join the boycott.
Amongst parents there is however a growing recognition of how useless the tests are, the NAHT carried out a survey of 10,000 parents, 85% thought that the present system of testing should be abolished and 71% wanted to see an end to league tables.
After the marking fiasco with the American company ETS the government were forced into a u-turn and the Key Stage 3 tests were abandoned.
It will be interesting to see how some Year 6 teachers cope, some of them will be like the long term prisoners who after they are released find it difficult to adapt to ‘life outside’. In Wales even though SATs were scrapped a majority of schools still used them for assessment. Doubtless Ofsted will still want to see test results.
Still, let’s dream dreams. If enough schools organised a boycott the national figures and league tables would be worthless and redundant. Hallelujah! A new day will dawn!