Thursday, 16 April 2009

Scrap SATS in favour of a more rounded education.

After last year’s marking fiasco it is almost impossible to think of an argument in favour of continuing to have SATS tests in Primary schools.

The whole testing regime currently employed in schools in England, the Scots and the Welsh, wisely, have the freedom to make their own decisions on many education matters, is increasingly being questioned. A growing body of anecdotal and research based evidence suggests that much of the joy is being ground out of learning for students when teachers are obliged to ‘teach to the test.’

For example the sensible, in principle, idea of having a ‘literacy hour’ to improve student’s reading skills is being undermined in practice by a testing regime that requires students to be drilled in analyzing a particular passage from a novel, but which fails, due to time pressures, to introduce them to the idea of reading for pleasure.

There is a good case to be made for following the Welsh example and scrapping SATS tests altogether and trusting teachers to use their firsthand experience in the classroom to assess the abilities of their students.

As for the all important, since it underpins all the other skills needed to succeed in education, work and life, business of teaching students to be literate and to read for pleasure better results might be achieved by embedding literacy skills in a range of subjects rather than using an endless round of testing that for all its capacity to produce statistics does little to give students a love for learning that will be with them for life.

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