Thanks again Warwick for your work on testing (http://www.educationbynumbers.org.uk/2011/07/18/the-unions%E2%80%99-reaction-to-the-outcome-of-last-year%E2%80%99s-sats-boycott/ ).
These are comments that i regularly hear in secondary schools, which in my opinion is not based on any factual evidence.
1. That KS2 assessments are flawed because all ‘they do’ in Yr6 is teach to the test.
2. a, for example, Level 4 at KS2 is not the same as a Level 4 KS3 because it assesses different skills
3. A student with a level 3 on entry will not make the same progress at those with a L4
4. We find that a student graded at a L5, isn’t a level 5 when we start to work with them
With the new 3 levels of progress measure these debates are becoming more passionate in secondary schools. I disagree with all of the statements above because I worked in an all through school and could see for myself the work that Yr6 students and their teachers made.
Interestingly the same arguments as number 4 are made by sixthform colleges and universities. All of us forgetting that there could be a gap of 4 months from sitting the test and starting again in September and students just forget what they have learnt, which obviously raises the question about how ‘deep’ the learning is when you have summative tests.
I have started to ponder the issues with 3 levels of progress based on a flawed system. However, I believe that this kind of progress measure is far more useful to make a judgement about a school than raw attainment, but:
Firstly, that having some form of knowledge of where the students are when they enter secondary school is very useful, but as pointed out in http://thoughtweavers.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/whats-the-point-of-sats-2/ students have a much more holistic education than we give credit for.
Secondly, that there are some extremely useful tests that the students can take (CEM Centre’s MidYIS or NFER’s CATs) that can give you some information on students. These also show up interesting differences between test results and ability. For e.g a student with a low SATs score, but a high non verbal reasoning score can show someone with a higher intelligence, but issues with literacy. You can also discover hard working students who do well in SATs, but raw ‘ability’ might cause them issues in GCSEs and A Levels.
Thirdly, secondary schools need to rapidly improve their knowledge on what is actually learnt in primaries, so that we don’t just end up repeating what has been taught.
Fourthly, the high risk testing (the flaws of which are well put in the blog I have listed above) does encourage shallow learning to ‘get through’ the test.
Conclusions??? Well I am not sure without fence sitting in the extreme and suggest that we start to use more than high risk testing to inform conclusions about student’s abilities and therefore good/bad progress.