How did you find SATs week?

As SATs week draws to a close, many teachers may be wondering how other schools found the test experience this year – so we asked a handful of teachers to share their thoughts.

Thanks to Claire Lotriet, Michael Tidd, Nick Hart and Peter Richardson for their comments. 

“As I sit here in a post- SATs daze, my feelings about this year’s new style test are, as you might expect, mixed.

The week kicked off with a tricky reading paper. At first, I actually thought the texts appeared pretty reasonable, but the wording of the questions was tough and there just seemed to be too much to do in the time given. I also felt that the increasing difficulty from the first text to the last wasn’t apparent – it was all tricky!

SPaG was, well, just SPaG. There’s only so many ways to get children to underline subordinate clauses and insert inverted commas after all.

The same goes for the new arithmetic test – it is what it is. Although I’m actually a much bigger fan of the arithmetic test format than the old mental maths test. What really annoyed me were the reasoning papers. Some of the new maths content didn’t get a look in and neither did some of the old stuff. I’m not sure how good an assessment tool the reasoning papers are with such key content omitted.

Overall, it felt tougher, but narrower this year.”

Claire Lotriet, Henwick Primary School

“In a week of highs and lows it strikes me that a common trend has been the issues caused by scrapping the separate Level 6 tests. Particularly in the maths reasoning papers, the need to include the wider range of challenge within even fewer questions has meant a very difficult experience for the lowest-attaining students, and a lack of stretch for the most able.

Indeed, across the week, it seems that children who might previously have reached Level 3 have faced an arduous task of sitting through lengthy test papers, much of which is not designed to cater for them. After all, Levels 3 to 6 in theory represented 8 years’ worth of learning; how do you represent that in a single paper?

Might it also lead to much lower ‘expected standard’ thresholds than we might otherwise have thought? That remains to be seen!”

Michael Tidd, Edgewood Primary School

“It’s tempting to point out disadvantage [in regards to the reading paper].  Those that teach in inner city schools or the most deprived areas of town may argue that their children had no such experience linked to the content of the reading paper and as such were doomed to fail.  I’m not so sure.  There is no doubt that adequate content knowledge aids comprehension but many of the questions that were asked in the reading paper were entirely text dependent.  If a child had experienced frolicking in a country garden and visiting a monument to an important ancestor; if they had been to a game reserve; or if they had an unusually deep knowledge of the dodo, they may have had a slight advantage.  Comprehension of the text and the ability to answer the questions demanded a wide vocabulary and the extraction of literal meaning from what they had read.  Great teaching of reading widens children’s vocabularies, general knowledge and cultural capital.  It also equips them with strategies to continue to widen their vocabularies when reading independently.  Content knowledge is necessary not but sufficient and therefore the teaching of reading must instil the behaviours of great readers alongside word and general knowledge.”

Nick Hart, Penn Wood Primary School

“We have to be realists. We knew the curriculum expectations were raised so why are we surprised when the tests are more challenging? Whatever we personally believe, tests as the main assessment tool for Reading, GPS and Mathematics are here to stay and we need to make the best of it. Once the scores are standardised and we find out where thresholds are, then we can worry. There will always be uncertainty with change on this magnitude and we have to wait and see the test results before blind panic sets in.”

Peter Richardson, Walton Le Dale Primary School

We’d love to hear your comments about how you found this year’s SATs. Join the conversation on twitter @risingstarsedu.

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