The government’s claim that today’s key stage 2 results were a “good start” to its new “rigorous” tests has been questioned, with teachers also taking to social media to vent their concerns.
While not directly comparable to last year, as children are being tested under a new curriculum and framework, it is a dramatic difference in the 80 per cent who achieved a level 4 in 2015.
Nicky Morgan, education secretary, said: “This is the first year we have assessed pupils under the new more rigorous system and it is no surprise that this year’s results look different to previous years, but despite that the majority of pupils have achieved above and beyond the new expected standard.”
She said today’s results were a “good start”.
But Anne Watson, emeritus professor of mathematics education at the University of Oxford, questioned Morgan’s claims. She said: “The aim to raise standards has resulted in a new way to measure performance so that no comparative judgements can be made.
“This means we do not know from the data alone whether the government has done a good job or a bad job and whether the test designers and score-scalers have done a good job or a bad job.”
She added that all we know is more children might now be “labelled as ‘failures’ in these tests”.
As yet, the new shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has not commented on today’s results.
But her predecessor Lucy Powell (pictured right), who held the position until nine days ago, in response to journalist Robert Peston’s comment questioning if the government should be “celebrating a 53 per cent pass rate” tweeted that the government’s position was a “disgrace”.
In a tweeted statement, Powell said it was a “total shambles” and said the results could not be “dressed up”. She pointed to “chaos and confusion” in this year’s assessment.
She said: “There’s no dressing these results up – there has been a big drop in results and standards have fallen due to the chaos and confusion in assessment caused by Tory ministers past and present.
“Despite their best efforts children taking SATs this year have been guinea pigs. It is no wonder that there is no confidence left among parents, teachers and school leaders in this year’s primary assessments.”
Speaking to Schools Week, Andy Fawkes, headteacher at Linchfield Community primary school in Lincolnshire, said he thought there would be “thousands of headteachers” who were “up at the crack of dawn looking at their results in disbelief” [schools were able to view their results from midnight].
He said: “We had to wait until 11am until we knew what the national picture was. So many people must have just been wondering what on earth was happening with their results.
“These results mean 47 per cent of children in this country are, according to the government, not ready for secondary school. How do you tell children and their parents that? That surely is not right.
“The system is a debacle.”
The system is a debacle
Teachers have also said that it is concerning that teacher-assessed writing, traditionally the lowest result, has come out “top” (at 74 per cent).
The KS2 tests have been marred with confusion and chaos over the last few months.
And, a “rogue marker” was blamed for an attempted leak of one of the test papers. The spelling, punctuation and grammar test was uploaded onto a password protected site, before being passed to a journalist.
The National Union of Teachers, which is on strike today, at its national conference also called on the DfE to cancel primary testing, citing concerns about the tests’ age-appropriateness and difficulty.
Today, the union’s acting general secretary tweeted:
The DFE should be ashamed of what it put children (and their teachers) through. These were bad tests. https://t.co/NB9vHV1EI5
— Kevin Courtney #StayHomeForTheNHS (@cyclingkev) July 5, 2016
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said it is “regrettable” today’s results were “marred by the Government’s mishandling of curriculum and assessment reforms which has created deep anxiety, confusion and uncertainty for pupils and schools”.
She added: “Despite the efforts of teachers and pupils, the value of this year’s test results will be poured over and questioned and schools face the prospect of being held to account unfairly on the basis of this year’s results data.”
The union has reiterated a call for the government to conduct an “open review” of the issues surrounding this year’s tests and “ensure that we have a system of assessment that is fit for purpose and commands the confidence of teachers and the public”.
The government also this morning published the “scaled scores” for this year’s tests, which show how many marks pupils needed in each test to meet the expected standard.
Schools Week has also published the national results in full, broken down by each test.