What are exams for? Are they fit for purpose? KS1

Every KS1 teacher I have spoken to about the KS1 exams thinks they are pointless in their current form for a range of reasons.

  • They don’t tell anyone anything they don’t know already.
  • They are marked by teachers that can be pressurized into inflating the levels.
  • Pupils sometimes get more help with the tests than they are supposed to.
  • Pupils can do well on a test one day and terribly the next so their test results don’t necessarily show their ability.
  • Nothing worthwhile is done with the results.
  • They are done for the benefit of OFSTED and SLT, not for teachers or students

They are supposed to generate a level but to what end? The entire system of giving pupils levels is not useful in my opinion. I don’t find that knowing what level a pupil is tells me a great deal that is useful. I find that knowing what level a pupil got on 1 test a couple of months ago is even less useful. Sub-levels are made up nonsense.

They are supposed to help judge infant schools. There are several problems with this.

  • It doesn’t make sense to judge schools based on a test they mark themselves or teacher assessment in the current climate of teacher and school accountability.
  • I question whether we are judging the right things if we are judging schools based on KS1 SATs.

They are supposed to give year 3 teachers an idea of pupils starting point. Most year 3 teachers I know disregard KS1 SATs results completely and do some form of baseline assessment at the start of Year 3.

So in answer to the question I posed in the title my answers have to be:

If KS1 exams do anything then I have no idea what beyond informing us whether pupils are any good at KS1 exams. They certainly do not seem to tell us much that is useful about pupils abilities in Maths or English.

I’d be interested to hear the thoughts of any Year 2 or Year 3 teachers about this as my view is informed by the views of an admittedly small sample of primary teachers that I know.

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2 thoughts on “What are exams for? Are they fit for purpose? KS1

  1. Pingback: How would I change the exam system KS1-5 | mylifeasacynicalteacher

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