As a former HMI who with others wrote parts of the early versions of the National Curriculum I have been concerned over many years that the effective curriculum in schools has become ever narrower as the pressure to deliver to the test has grown.
It is my considered opinion that the SATs should be replaced in their entirety by moderated teacher assessment. The National picture could be obtained as desired by re-instating the successful and effective assessment of performance unit (APU) which through a stratified random sample of 10,000 pupils and exceptionally well designed tests gave a good measure of performance over the whole system.
Those of us who wrote the National Curriculum feared that it would become a strait jacket and it is interesting that new intiatives often allow a relaxing of these requirements as part of the incentives for schools to engage in new schemes of management and funding.
These changes would allow teachers to rediscover their independance and develop sound curricular intiatives from the grassroots up. Regrettably some teachers have already lost the ability or never experienced the freedom to implement their own ideas in an area for which they have been trained in the first place.
A J Lacey
Why is this idea important?
SATs have increasingly been a source of stress to pupils and parents and are at best a poor source of meaningful information to parents. Clearly they are now seen by some teachers as an impediment to their work and a few have had the courage to abandon them unilaterally.
I give below an example of how narrow a SAT question can be from my own area of expertise , that is Scientific investigations.
It is important that children produce a conclusion from their own observations.Discussing this with a moderator she replied "Ah the children know they must answer with an 'er' sentence. Somewhat puzzled I asked what this meant in practice , she replied that they are taught to write something like "The longer the faster, or for example the bigger the heavier" This reduces what should be independent thought to a formula which will be automatically marked as correct! This is true in most cases of direct proportion with only two variables which is usual at this level.