The “unreliable and meaningless” results of this year’s end-of-primary school tests should not be used to single out poorly-performing institutions, a school leaders’ union has said.
The NAHT has called for the floor standard – used by government to define unacceptably low performance – to be suspended in 2016 because of concerns over this year’s Sats tests.
In its submission to a parliamentary inquiry into primary school assessment, the union highlighted the fact that the 53 per cent of pupils reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and maths this year was well below the 65 per cent floor standard set by the government.
The Commons education select committee announced its investigation in September, following a year which saw a government U-turn on baseline tests for four-year-olds, complaints about the difficulty of the tougher new Sats and a high-profile campaign by some parents to boycott the assessments.
In its submission, the NAHT said: “The tests were poorly designed and poorly administered, with Sats papers mistakenly published online ahead of the test; delayed and obscure guidance for teachers; mistakes in test papers; a framework that fails to cater for pupils with dyslexia; tests which were not accessible for all children; and inconsistent moderation by LAs.”
These concerns were echoed by the NUT in its submission. “’Farce’, ‘chaos’ and ‘fiasco’ were the most common words used by teachers when they were surveyed by the NUT about their experience,” the teaching union said.
‘Discriminating against poorer pupils’
The NUT said that, pending a broader review, assessment arrangements for 2016-17 should be suspended because they “undermine, rather than support, an innovative and engaging curriculum for primary children”.
In a separate submission, academics at Education Datalab called for an end to “biased” teacher assessments being used in statutory assessments of schools.
They said teachers used cognitive shortcuts, relying on stereotypes of performance across groups. “For example, if black boys in a class tend to perform poorly in literacy, a teacher is more likely to under-rate the performance of any individual black boy compared to their true capabilities in literacy. This has been shown across numerous academic studies,” the academics said.
“The result is that teacher assessment discriminates against poorer pupils and minorities which, on its own, is a good enough reason not to use it.”
They also called for the government to stop using key stage 1 assessments to measure pupil progress in primary schools, instead calling for “a reliable and unbiased Reception baseline test” that judges children as they enter school.
The responses were among 380 submitted to the inquiry, which is due to hold its first evidence session next month.
Committee chairman Neil Carmichael said: “Primary assessment has seen major reform in recent times and, as a committee, we want to examine the impact of Sats, as well as broader issues of how primary assessment is helping to prepare children for secondary school and assist them in reaching their potential.”