Is there a method in the madness of the Sats test leaks?

Almost 600,000 pupils are to sit the test [Image: David Jones/PA].

Almost 600,000 pupils are to sit the test [Image: David Jones/PA].

Correct me if I’m mistaken:

The Conservative Government decided to toughen up testing for primary-age pupils after it emerged that educational standards in the UK are well behind other countries. Right?

But the Sats tests are already controversial as both teachers and parents have protested against them, saying they are turning schools into production lines to ensure our kids provide the right answers, rather than places where the joy of learning can be instilled into young people.

So the Tories have a bit of a PR problem. They can’t go back on their plans to toughen up Sats because then they are letting children go uneducated – but they don’t want to upset parents because these are potential Tory voters.

In those circumstances, does it seem possible that an arrangement could be made to leak the first few tests into the public domain, to bump up scores without upsetting parents?

The only problem would be the possibility that such a leak would be discovered by people who believe tests should be administered fairly – but would that occur to a Conservative MP?

History tends to show that they don’t understand fairness very well.

Cheating, on the other hand, is something they seem to understand perfectly.

The Department for Education suffered a second major embarrassment over its controversial exams for primary school pupils, after answers for a test due to be sat by all 10- and 11-year-olds in England were leaked online.

Nearly 600,000 year 6 state school pupils are to sit the test of spelling, punctuation and grammar (Spag) on Tuesday, but it emerged that both the test paper and its answers were posted to a website the day before by the department’s contractor, Pearson.

The error means that the answers – such as lists of words pupils were to be asked to spell – could have easily been downloaded, copied and distributed a day ahead of the crucial test, potentially allowing parents and teachers to teach pupils the correct answers.

Labour accused the education department of compromising the test, which was already a subject of national protests last week by parents concerned that primary-age pupils were being placed under too much pressure, and authors including Philip Pullman claimed the tests were too demanding.

It is the second time in just the space of three weeks that the department has been embarrassed in its attempts to impose tougher Spag tests on primary school pupils.

Source: Fresh humiliation as Sats answers published online for second time | Education | The Guardian

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8 thoughts on “Is there a method in the madness of the Sats test leaks?

  1. Roland Laycock

    Education is that bad at my local college two twenty year old girls in a test could not us a 30cm ruler or a foot rule they didn’t know what the marks meant, as a teacher told me they are at school to look after them while there parents are at work not to teach them

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Spelling: us/use
      there/their

      If these young ladies have special educational needs, that’s not a fault of the college.

  2. David

    The whole business of official testing on this scale is utter nonsense. Most of my generation – I left a Secondary Modern School in 1950 – only took one test: the 11+, which I had the great good fortune to fail and went on to have a very good and appropriate education free of Grammar School, its tests and GCE exams.

    My wife went to a selective girls’ school and in her education learned very little apart from a vague knowledge of which continent was which on the map, a rather dull view of history, quite a bit of French, a bit of biology and little about the glories of English Literature. Oddly enough, these things were covered very well in secondary school.

    So, do we have to have exams at all? Or should they be for those who will most benefit from them? Is there much benefit for around half of the school population who struggle to get grade D? At best such a grade might show somebody who has stuck at it and produced the work, but not much more.

    The question government should be addressing is that of learning readiness. I certainly wasn’t ready for examinations at school, apart from the informal ones our teachers used to set.

    Perhaps there should be much more investment in post-school learning where those who have left school having “failed” can pick up the threads of education again and do the learning they really want to do, starting at an appropriate level. There was a scheme, the Access scheme, some years ago where people could attend a year’s course which would eventually lead them to university. I fancy the government has kicked that into touch.

  3. hayfords

    The second test paper was not leaked into the public domain. It was behind an encrypted password only accessible to test markers.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      … who may then have taken it into the public domain. I think I saw mention of exactly that, on Twitter this morning.

Comments are closed.