Letters extra: a test by any other name

27th April 2001 at 01:00

Why do contributors to The TES refer to Sats as if they actually exist? There is never any sense of irony, no suggestion that this term is slang, a nickname, a misnomer.

True, last summer it was reported that Mr Blunkett was interested in the idea of introducing real Sats for the first time ("Scholastic Aptitude Tests" - from the USA) but nothing has been heard since then.

True, during the gestation of the national curriculum, trainers and teachers struggled to come to terms with the concept of assessment through banks of "Standard Assessment Tasks".

However, two things happened in 1992. Firstly, it was decided that classroom tasks should be replaced by national tests - this meant the end of UK Sats at a stroke. Secondly, the Assessment Authority discovered that, even if it wanted to pretend that its tests were Sats, it could not - because the American agency responsible for Scholastic Aptitude Tests held the copyright on the acronym.

A response I have from the QCA on this matter includes the following: "We stopped using the term [Sats] in 1992, and since then have referred to the tests as 'end of key stage tests' or 'national tests' in all our publications and correspondence. We have brought this to the attention of schools, journalists and the public in many and various ways..."

So, why, oh why ...?

Peter Tallon
Cannock, Staffs

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now