Scrapping tests follows Wales lead

17th October 2008 at 01:00
England's Schools Secretary also abandons league tables based on key stage 3 Sats

National testing of 14-year-olds in England has been scrapped, following Wales's lead three years ago and also following an embarrassing marking fiasco this summer.

Ed Balls, England's Schools Secretary, has also abandoned school league tables based on the results of the Sats exams at key stage 3, but only in name.

The Government intends to replace the tables by giving schools individual score cards detailing teacher assessment results and overall performance. It will still make it easy for parents to compare schools.

In 2005, the Welsh Assembly government ended national testing for 14-year- olds. Exams for 11-year-olds had been abolished a year earlier. Pupil performance at key stages 1 to 3 in Wales is now measured solely by teacher assessment in the classroom.

The failure of an independent marking system, managed by the American company ETS, in the administration of this year's key stage 3 Sats in England means some pupils are still waiting for their results. Many think the test has lost all credibility.

But despite the move, Mr Balls reiterated that key stage 2 tests would not be scrapped, a decision met with anger from teaching unions in England.

David Hawker, Wales's director of the Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills, had predicted recently the possible scrapping of the tests, but he had acknowleded widespread parental support for testing in England during an interview with TES Cymru. He said Wales had chosen the right path in scrapping the tests, claiming it had led to teaching to test.

A spokesperson for the Assembly government said Sats were scrapped because teacher assessment was better at diagnosing the needs of individual pupils.

"Over the past four years, we have also put into place robust systems for moderating and confirming teacher assessments. These systems ensure that we have reliable evidence for reporting on attainment at school, local authority and national levels."

Further reports, pages 10-11.

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