This week year 6 children all around the country have been sitting their Key Stage 2 SATs, in Maths, Reading and Writing. As a teacher and parent I have mixed feelings about these tests. On the one hand, I approve of the standardising of tests, as it should mean our children are assessed fairly. On the other hand, the tests place a great deal of pressure on children and teachers, narrowing what could be (and often is) a creative, well-rounded curriculum down to ‘the three Rs‘. With the abolition of a science paper, the field has become even more narrow in recent years.
My biggest gripe is that the Maths paper is, in reality as much a comprehension paper as anything else. Although I agree that children need to be able to explain concepts and understand what is being asked of them, I do not see how the decoding of so much text can be a true test of their mathematical understanding. Yes, we can read the paper for children who struggle, but that doesn’t take away from the complexities of the language itself. Teachers spend a great deal of their time focussing on what the questions actually mean, but doesn’t that detract from the teaching of mathematical concepts? I don’t have a straightforward answer, I’m just putting it out there.
From my standpoint as a mum, our eldest has jumped through the hoops well and our middle one has just done the same this week. In fact middle chicklet has done so well that she is being ‘rewarded’ with the level 6 papers next week. Yes, I’m a proud chicken, but also very aware of how worried she is about it. Should a ten year old know what stress is? And how many of the markers would be capable of writing at such a level? I question the process, especially when you consider that the majority of children then sit a new round of tests when they enter secondary school. Wouldn’t they be better off having thorough teacher assessments, which are moderated? This may result in a more interesting, engaging curriculum which encourages our children to look forward to the next stage in their learning.
Anyway, that’s it. Mild rant over. If I had the definitive answer I’d be very happy, but I’m not sure that I do…