Page last updated at 13:24 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

Teachers' scores 'added to Sats'

By Angela Harrison
BBC News education reporter

Child taking test
Next year 11-year-olds will sit tests in only English and maths

Next year's Sats results for England's schools will be published alongside teachers' assessments of pupils' work.

The move could head off a threatened boycott of the national tests by teachers and heads.

Education Secretary Ed Balls said the change did not signal the end of the tests but he was "not closing the door" on further reforms.

Heads say league tables drawn up from results of tests taken by 11-year-olds do not reflect a school's achievement.

Earlier this year, the government's expert group on testing recommended ministers look at improving teacher assessment to see if it would be possible to "move away" from externally marked tests, in the future.

Teacher assessment in this case means when teachers say which level they believe individual pupils to be working at.

Schools already have to give this information to the government.

'Objective validation'

Mr Balls told journalists today: "I'm absolutely not closing the door on long term reform, but we would only move away from externally marked tests if we were 100% confident we could provide for parents that objective assessment and validation".

He said the idea of publishing teachers' assessments of pupils' achievements alongside the Sats results had come from Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers - one of the two unions threatening to boycott next year's Sats tests.

He said: "I think Mick is making good suggestions and we want to work together in partnership on this".

But he said parents - and head teachers - accepted there was a need for "externally validated" assessment of how children and schools were performing.

From 2011, the teachers' assessments would be validated locally - meaning samples would be checked for accuracy.

'Concerns'

Pupils in England take Sats in English and maths in the final year of primary school. Similar test results are not published in other parts of the UK.

Sats for 14-year-olds were scrapped last year after large-scale marking problems. Earlier this year the science test for 11-year-olds was abolished.

NAHT leader Mick Brookes welcomed the changes - as far as they went.

"It is good to have teacher assessment acknowledged as being important as part of the way in which children's work is assessed," he said.

"Although it is a step in the right direction, it is not a step far enough yet. There are other things we need to secure our aims.

"NAHT will not rest until every child leaves their primary school with information about their academic progress that is 100% accurate," Mr Brookes said.

The other union campaigning against Sats tests, the National Union of Teachers, also backed the change.

This is a shift from the school being held accountable to individual classroom teachers shouldering this burden
Chris Keates, NASUWT

Its general secretary Christine Blower said: "The fact that Ed Balls has repeated that testing and assessment are 'not set in stone' is welcome. The fact that he speaks warmly of teacher assessment is also welcome.

"However, his enthusiasm to tell us that he wants what 'works best for pupils and schools' is not borne out by his decision to both maintain the Sats next year and publish the results.

"The NUT has always supported teacher assessment as the best indicator, both of what children and young people can do, and the best way to support their learning."

However, the other big teachers' union, NASUWT, has attacked the plans as the "worst of all worlds for the classroom teacher".

General secretary Chris Keates added that the change would also "create confusion for parents".

"This is a shift from the school being held accountable to individual classroom teachers shouldering this burden," she said.



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SEE ALSO
Unions considering Sats boycott
17 Sep 09 |  Education
Appeals rise over schools tests
05 Nov 09 |  Education
'Concern' over English Sats test
18 Mar 09 |  Education
Testing pressure condemned by MPs
12 May 08 |  Education
School tests boycott: Deja vu?
27 Mar 09 |  Education
Head teachers back ballot on Sats
02 May 09 |  Education

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