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SATs for all 11-year-olds ‘to be scrapped

8 May 2009 1,692 views No Comment

By Laura Clark Mail
_40023940_classroom203SATs may finally be scrapped in favour of teacher assessment.
Ministers have accepted ‘in full’ proposals that called for a move away from traditional pen and paper exams.
Children’s Secretary Ed Balls announced the scrapping of SATs in science from next year in favour of assessment by teachers and formal testing of just a few pupils.
Changes ahead: Pupils now face teacher assessment instead of SATs
While pledging that tests in English and maths – under threat of a teacher boycott – would stay for the time being, Mr Balls insisted: ‘The system is not set in stone.’
SATs for 14-year-olds have already been scrapped.
But critics say the system has become a ‘dog’s dinner’, with parents unable to keep track.
Last year confidence in SATs was rocked by administrative chaos in the marking of the tests, which led to delayed and missing results.
The group commissioned to advise on their future suggested that all tests marked externally could eventually be replaced by in-school assessment, with some marks being checked to ensure consistency.
The proposal would sound the death knell for the 18-year-old system of national curriculum tests. However, Tory schools spokesman Michael Gove accused the Government of failing to ‘stand up to outside pressure and retreating on the principle of external assessment’.

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The advisory group called on ministers to ‘continue to invest in, strengthen and monitor the reliability of teacher assessment to judge whether a move away from externally marked national tests might be viable at a future date’.
The report, and Mr Balls’s response, is unlikely to derail a proposed boycott by two major teaching unions of SATs in English and maths next year.
Mr Balls, keen to avoid being seen as bowing to union pressure, highlighted the group’s conclusion that scrapping SATs now would be a ‘step backwards’.
But Margaret Morrissey, of the lobby group Parents Outloud, said the testing system for 11-year-olds had become too confusing.
Ministers had initially suggested English and maths tests may go, before vowing to keep them, and then appointing the advisory group, which has called for a long-term move away from them after all.
‘This is a dog’s dinner and is very difficult for parents to keep track of,’ she said. ‘The system has been cut about so much now it is causing chaos and confusion.
‘Ministers need to take the politics out of this.’

Also under the proposals, pupils will not in future receive their SATs results until after they have moved to secondary school because the exams will be taken in June instead of May.
The review group said secondary schools should place greater reliance on reports from primary schools when placing pupils in ability sets.
The group also called for continued trials of a system of shorter, more frequent tests, which could replace SATs in two years.
In other proposals, league tables would be replaced by report cards ranking schools on achievement, pupil progress, pupil well-being, and parents’ and pupils’ views.

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