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Sats: New 'flexible' writing assessments to stay – despite teachers' concerns

Revised frameworks for assessing writing will continue from 2019 onwards

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Revised frameworks for assessing writing will continue from 2019 onwards

The government has revealed that this year's changes to the way writing is assessed for key stage 2 Sats will remain indefinitely, despite reservations from teachers.

Teachers have been given more flexibility this year in how they assess children’s writing. The changes follow an outcry over the reforms in 2016, which meant children had to meet all the criteria in a particular standard – something that was seen as unfair.

Previously, pupils who missed out by one criterion were assessed at the same standard as a pupil who did not meet any of them.

Now under the guidance for 2018, teachers are allowed to overlook a pupil’s “particular weakness” in some cases and award the standard.

Assessment changes 'as clear as mud'

But the changes this year have been criticised as being as “clear as mud”.

And a recent Twitter poll conducted by Michael Tidd, headteacher of Medmerry Primary in West Sussex and Tes columnist, found that more than four in five teachers felt that the new system would not produce “honest and accurate” results.

Now the Standards and Testing Agency has published details of the frameworks which will be in place from 2018-19 onwards – and the key stage 2 writing framework is unchanged.

The news was greeted with despair from some:



Oh *&^%

— Craig Westby (@eggegg80) February 14, 2018






— Rachael Shaw (@res_ed) February 14, 2018




It's not that I want it fiddling with - it's credibility is just so completely shot that it needs scrapping

— Michael Tidd (@MichaelT1979) February 14, 2018



The KS2 teacher assessments for the 2018-19 academic year cover teacher assessments in writing and science.

While the framework for assessing writing stays the same, the assessment for science is worded slightly differently – although the content covered remains the same.

Teachers will no longer have to make statutory assessments in reading and maths – a change which was announced in September in response to the consultation on primary assessment.

As well as being assessed by their teachers in writing and science, 10- and 11-year-old pupils take tests in maths, reading and spelling, punctuation and grammar (spag).

'Standards are rising'

At key stage 1, pupils are tested in maths and reading. There is also a non-statutory spag test.

Test results at key stage 1 are not reported separately but are fed into teacher assessments, which are reported, along with assessments in writing and science.

The writing framework at key stage 1 remains unchanged, but the reading, maths and science frameworks have been changed. There are minor changes in reading and science, but in maths some of the requirements have been removed.

Nick Gibb, school standards minister, said: "Academic standards are rising in our primary and secondary schools, thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers. Nine out of 10 schools are now rated 'good' or 'outstanding' and there are now 1.9 million more pupils in schools rated 'good' or 'outstanding' than in 2010.

"This year’s primary school results show that pupils are continuing to rise to the high expectations of our new national curriculum, with an 8 per cent increase in the proportion of pupils reaching the expected standard on last year. It is vital that we have an assessment system that continues to support this. These updates to the teacher assessment frameworks were made following feedback from schools and will ensure that teachers can continue to provide the excellent primary school education pupils deserve."

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