I am yet to find anyone who likes the KS2 exams. Most KS2 teachers I know resent the amount of time they have to spend preparing pupils for the exams and the pressure for results they are put under.
Most teachers of year 7 I know do not trust the accuracy of the KS2 SATs. We always do a baseline test and we always find the results of that baseline test are significantly different from the KS2 SATs results.
I understand the need for a test at the end of KS2. I just think the current test is a poor one. One of the reasons for this is that it generates something that does not mean a great deal and does not tell us very much about what pupils can and can’t do.
When I get the data on my new year 7 class my first thoughts are:
- Does this data accurately reflect the Maths ability of these pupils?
- What can these pupils do?
The answers to these questions are generally:
- Not really
- No idea
I find that assumptions I make about what pupils can and cannot do based on their KS2 level are almost invariably wrong. Having looked historical data from both my current and previous schools I have found KS2 levels are a poor predictor of KS3 levels and GCSE performance. Does that not suggest the exam is flawed?
I also find that every year some pupils with profound special needs outperform their peers without special needs in their KS2 SATs but cannot access our baseline test at all. In my experience the KS2 SATs results of special needs pupils consistently do not reflect their ability.
Having used KS2 SATs paper to assess the levels of some pupils that cannot access the KS3 papers I have found that they test things that I don’t really care if pupils arrive in year 7 knowing or not. They do not test things that it is pretty crucial pupils are able to do enough.
Schools and teachers are judged based on KS2 results so they inevitably teach to the test to some extent. As they are teaching to a test that isn’t very good in my opinion it isn’t a huge shock to me when pupils arrive supposedly level 4 and sometimes level 5 unable to do basic arithmetic quickly and confidently. It isn’t the pupils fault or the teachers. Pupils can only pass the tests that are put in front of them. Teacher’s jobs depend on getting their pupils through those tests. Our local primary schools deserve a lot of credit for getting good results from pupils that are very deprived, largely EAL with well above average numbers of SEN pupils. Sadly many of them arrive with good levels and very limited maths knowledge and skills.
Surely that implies a problem with the test.