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SATS who are they for?

(31 Posts)
jacobibatoli Sat 01-Nov-14 18:31:59

dc has just finished doing SATS, spent most of the year practicing for SATS tests all year (or seemed like most of it)
not really learning anything new just practice, practice.....
end result good SATS results but for who? (the kids, the primary school, the secondary school or the next batch of prospective primary school parents?)
what does the secondary school do?
ignore them, as they are skewed results
so the secondary schools do CAT tests and stream according to those results
so my question is who are SATS for?
they do not benefit my dc
they do bot benefit the secondary school because the results are so skewed?

TheFirstOfHerName Sat 01-Nov-14 18:33:32

Why is your DC doing SATs in October? Or do you mean they did them last May?

TheFirstOfHerName Sat 01-Nov-14 18:34:42

The official line is that they measure and quantify progress. In reality, I'm not sure who benefits.

jacobibatoli Sat 01-Nov-14 18:43:01

last May

AICM Sat 01-Nov-14 19:05:35

Speaking as a Year 6 teacher I can promise you they are of little value to the children. Secondary schools ignore them and do their own tests.

The tests are used to measure the performance of schools.

jacobibatoli Sat 01-Nov-14 19:11:20

thanks, that doesn't surprise me
so do our kids have to participate?

spanieleyes Sat 01-Nov-14 19:18:53

Sort of!
It is a legal requirement on SCHOOLS to ensure that children sit the SATS tests, but it's not a legal requirement on parents!!
The difficulty is, the first thing most parents look at when assessing a prospective new school is the OFSTED report and the league tables, both of which rely on good SATs results. Would you send your child to a school where the majority of children achieved level 3 and made little progress?

Littleturkish Sat 01-Nov-14 19:21:54

I don't think they're very good tests- questions are poorly worded, texts are dry and boring and they don't help facilitate the most able express their more complex ideas, nor do they help the least able scaffold their more limited responses.

Bin them.

jacobibatoli Sat 01-Nov-14 19:27:44

it is a dilemma
I wouldn't mind but it seems that the last year is just devoted to producing SATS results for the next set of prospective kids and that seems to be a bit of an own goal, because it is of no use to the secondary schools that inherit these super SATS results
Perhaps prospective primary school parents & OFSTED should be looking at the secondary CAT test results instead or as well

spanieleyes Sat 01-Nov-14 19:32:06

That's a school problem, not a SATS one. I teach year 6, we don't spend all year revising/practising for SATS, we teach the year 6 children just the same as we teach the year 3/4/5 children, what they need to know based on what they know already and what they don't!

snowmummy Sat 01-Nov-14 19:55:04

They are a tool for measuring the effectiveness of the school. Unfortunately, if the results are poor, the school/teachers are judged so what happens is that the kids are drilled, tested and uit under pressure all year to do well. Dreadful!

jacobibatoli Sat 01-Nov-14 21:06:11

that was my experience of this last year, pressure on the kids, even free breakfast put on in school the morning of each test!

LePetitMarseillais Sat 01-Nov-14 21:10:07

Our secondary uses them to set in Year 7.I asked a week ago and they definitely do.They said the groups were fluid at times but clearly the kids coming from schools which get high results will start off with an advantage.

PastSellByDate Sun 02-Nov-14 09:05:55

Hi jacobibitoli:

My DD1 also took KS2 SATs last May - and indeed I posted here about the bizarre decision of the school to split her single form Y6 class into those struggling to achieve NC L4 (they were taught by the Y6 school teacher) and those secure to achieve NC L4 or better (they were taught by supply teachers for one term and then due to parental complaint - not mine I hasten to add (I'd completely given up on the school by that point) - a KS1 teacher was suddenly promoted to teaching this group with claims of her new found expertise in mathematics - oddly that wasn't obvious in KS1 with either DDs).

So having been through this what do I think about purpose of SATs.

FOR GOVERNMENT: Well this is a system most countries utilise to ensure that schools (largely paid for by tax payers) are educating children to the appropriate standard. To date no country has come up with an alternative solution to determining whether children know how to add/ subtract/ multiply/ divide - read at their age level - (and these are notionally the main targets of primary/ elementary education) - other than testing.

FOR PARENTS: This is a means of getting feedback on your child's performance which is totally independent of the school's. Some schools are notoriously generous in assessing pupil performrance/ others are possibly too hard. Obviously it's performance on the day - and no one test can sum up your child - but it does give you a concept of how they're doing against national standards.

This will become more important since in England we're leaving the national NC Level system apparently - and how children are assessed is now being devolved to each school.

FOR PUPILS: Testing is one of those things kids dread and can get wound up about - but it is also part and parcel of school life. Quizzes, exams, tests, etc... all occur. I don't hear anyone objecting to a swimming coach evaluating whether their child can move up to the next group against agreed targets or a ballet teacher subjecting a child to a exam. Indeed I don't think either parents/ children get that worked up about it.

Perhaps our mistake is treating academic examinations as if they're somehow different. You've worked for weeks on these things - the test is your opportunity to shine - just as it would be in a piano exam or a dance exam. Sure it's a bit nerve wracking - but it's a right of passage. I think parents have to signal to their children that this is just part of the job - whereby after doing the work for a certain period of time you have to demonstrate that you can successfully work to that ability level/ recall facts under pressure.

FOR TEACHERS: Performance Related Pay and 'school league tables', as well as floor targets - all play a huge part in a school's/ teacher's decision about how to handle Year 6. For us, our school has been working perilously close to the older 60% floor standard (achieving a worrying 62% in one year) and skating dangerously near the new 65% floor standard (65% of all Y6 pupils in a school are required to achieve Nc L4+ at KS2 SATs). I don't know - but I strongly suspect - this is why Year 6 becomes a SATs preparation hot house.

Now I don't completely understand whether children with disabilities/ SEN are included in this floor target or not - but notionally 65% of pupils achieving NC L4 isn't a terribly difficult or unachievable target. Most schools are currently achieving this.


Other countries do handle this differently - by making the test content and the test date a total surprise. Logic being if it's too hard - well it's too hard for everybody. Tests are delivered the day before near the close of day - so there can be no 'leak' to pupils - and are collected at the end of the day of the test.

It's often a one day event in other countries - and this is particularly where I think England over cooks things - by making it a week long affair. Yes it is daunting to have questions you can't answer or problems you find difficult. The English SATs clearly have been designed as a two tier system - whereby bright students have to undergo further testing to establish their ability. Maybe I've missed something, but my impression is nobody questions whether that's fair to the bright students.

Personally - I think they need to devise a test that starts at NC L4 and goes to NC L6 (possibly higher) - if you can't access any of the questions there's a serious problem. It would halve the bill to tax payers for marking and for printing KS2 SATs exam scripts.

Maybe the solution to schools heavily coaching for SATs is to make testing content and date a total surprise - at any point between May - July. Something that happens toward the end of Y6 but doesn't restrict regular class work during the course of the year.

Certainly as a parent - I viewed the panic stricken decisions DD1's school was making in Y6 as an admission of total failure. They had consistently been teaching 6 months - 1 year behind what other schools were doing, there was no homework to reinforce (let alone enhance) learning and there was a general complacency amongst staff that many parents would 'do the job for them' by coaching or tutoring their children for the 11+ (grammar schools are state funded here - but entrance is by exam results).

Looking back - I'd say that I'm not against testing - DD1 had a fantastic result in Maths and very solid results in English and Teacher Assessment of Science. We're very pleased with her - and we also know that her attempt at the 11+ made a lot of difference to her results. Indeed my impression of the English primary system is that the ghost in the corner of the room is that pupils with parents who seriously support learning at home/ encourage going for the 11+ are the ones that achieve.

TeenAndTween Sun 02-Nov-14 09:22:32

For DD1 the year 6 SATs year was extremely beneficial.

There was no stupid pressure that I read of on here.

But there was review, filling in gaps, and solidification of knowledge (as well as learning some new stuff) that I don't think would have happened without the SATs target. This meant that her skills in maths (and to a lesser extent English) were much better grounded when she went to secondary, which has enabled her to learn more in secondary than I believe would otherwise have been the case.

It is also to some extent a 'right of passage' helping to end primary and mentally step them up to secondary.

NynaevesSister Sun 02-Nov-14 09:34:01

I thought that SATs were also used to measure teaching performance at secondary? So a pupil getting a level 4 in SATs would be expected to get at least a C in GCSE.

I have heard of unscrupulous schools focussing on those pupils and just ignoring late bloomers/those with the potential to do well but who maybe had a poor school/bad year 6 etc, just to keep their ratings up for Ofsted.

jacobibatoli Sun 02-Nov-14 09:57:39

gosh that was a mammoth post, (sorry this doesn't do it justice)
most of which I agree with and makes sense

the worrying part for me was the performance related pay aspect
I just wonder whether this is based on absolute results or improvement?

and the ghost in the corner, not necessarily just the support learning for 11+, but more importantly the support for learning at home

I think that the Yr6 hot house SAT results should be corrected to become consistent with the CAT tests, this may stifle hot-housing which gives skewed results which do not help the secondary schools

jacobibatoli Sun 02-Nov-14 10:05:13

It is nice to hear your experience was good wrt SATS
I have a different impression, there certainly was, maybe gentle, but increasing pressure for SATS and may be some of that is good
it just seemed like 6 months of SATS revision, culminating in free breakfast club on the morning of SATS

mrz Sun 02-Nov-14 11:12:10

Our local secondary schools do use SAT results to set children in Y7 and they are used by all schools to set GCSE targets.

mrz Sun 02-Nov-14 11:15:57

The performance related pay myth [groan]

TeenAndTween Sun 02-Nov-14 14:06:25

Jacob It may be a factor of age, my DD1 did SATs 5 years ago - she's currently busily preparing for GCSEs. On the other hand I do still have my second DD at the school so have seen y6s come and go, and I still think the school is not overly pressured, though there is a bit more focus now.

Our school also does the free breakfasts in SATs week. It ensures the children get to school on time and have had food to eat. Sadly that is not the norm for a significant minority of children here.

Strictly1 Sun 02-Nov-14 14:11:47

We teach our children properly as we do in all year groups, however, we were recently criticised by Ofsted for not playing the game and boostering etc!

snowmummy Mon 03-Nov-14 07:57:03

Strictly, if children are taught properly throughout all the years, there should surely be no need for all the boostering. I think your school has it right.

bruffin Mon 03-Nov-14 08:08:20

Secondary schools ignore them and do their own test

Nonsense, my dcs secondary school didnt ignore them and even in 6th form their raw scores are on their Go4Schools page. Any decent school will look at lots of different aspects of the child including SATS. My dcs school actually are one of the few schools in our area that set from day 1 using CATs and SATs (cats are taken on transfer day in July)
For what its worth my DC really enjoyed the challenge of Sats, even my DS who has spld. He got the top mark in the school for science and it really boosted his confidence for secondary school. There was not a huge amount of pressure, but they did have a breakfast club which was not compulsary but all the children went anyway.

My friend said her ds was complaining that they hadnt done any history all year6. Yet my ds had come home with a project on Motte and Bailey castles they had done.

Toomanyhouseguests Mon 03-Nov-14 08:12:20

Indeed my impression of the English primary system is that the ghost in the corner of the room is that pupils with parents who seriously support learning at home/ encourage going for the 11+ are the ones that achieve.

Very true in our area as well.

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